The University of the Sunshine Coast has established its first engineering scholarship thanks to a generous donation from the local family-owned civil engineering firm Hall Contracting Pty Ltd.
In a significant gift to the Building Excellence campaign, the long-time Sunshine Coast family has provided $100,000 to endow the “Les and Mary Hall Family Scholarship”. The gift will enable the University to each year present a $5,000 scholarship to a first-year construction engineering student, distributed over the student’s time at USC.
Hall Contracting owners, brothers Peter and Brian Hall, are the principal donors. Their gift to USC has been made to honour their parents, Les and Mary Hall, who founded Hall Contracting Pty Ltd.
Les and Mary Hall honeymooned on the Sunshine Coast in 1944. They loved it so much that they returned two years later to live here. When fishing didn’t pay the bills, Les purchased an Army disposal truck and began extracting sand and gravel out of local creeks for building projects. “He would often talk about the hard times,” said his son Peter Hall. “In those days all the loads of gravel were shovelled on by hand and unloaded the same way.”
Les was born into a very poor family and never knew his father. He grew up during the depression and had very little education, eventually teaching himself to read and write when he was in his early twenties.
He and Mary were a good combination. He had the drive and she had the education. Mary ran the financial side of the business, and was instrumental in many investment decisions. Though Les had little education, he was full of drive and ideas. He built a successful business which today is run by Les and Mary’s two eldest sons, Brian and Peter, and one of their grandchildren, Cameron.
Hall Contracting employs over 90 staff and carries out civil and dredging contracts all over Australia, South East Asia and the Pacific.
Les and Mary were also active in the community on the Sunshine Coast. Les, who passed away last year, lived by the motto which he kept on a scrap of paper in his wallet: I shall pass this way but once. Any kindness I can show, or good thing I can do, let me do it now and not defer it. For I shall not pass this way again.
“Les always believed in giving someone a go, and thought anyone could succeed if they worked hard and had the right attitude,” Brian Hall said. “Peter and I feel privileged to be in a position to share the success of their business. We hope that the scholarship will give less fortunate engineering students a ‘leg-up’ to continue their studies and make a success of their own careers or business.”
Executive Officer of the USC Foundation Andrew Pentland said “Universities around the world cherish stories like the Hall family gift. It is a wonderful story to be told for years to come. They are true pioneers on the Sunshine Coast.”
USC introduced two Bachelor of Engineering degrees this year, in Construction Management and in Water and Sustainable Resource Management. The degrees are of particular relevance to the Sunshine Coast, given the region’s rapid population growth and the mounting pressure on infrastructure and sustainability.
“This scholarship lifts the prestige of our new engineering offerings, and also motivates our students to work extra hard to win it,” said Professor Richard White, the new head of Engineering at USC.Back to top