One of The University of Western Australia's alumni and a pioneer woman lawyer, Leah Jane Cohen, whose gift of almost $3 million to her alma mater will be celebrated today, started her habit of giving to the University at a young age.
After completing her Bachelor of Arts in 1934, she was one of 10 women to study for a Law degree, which she finished when she was 24, in 1937. During her studies she, along with other Law students, provided the afternoon tea for the Engineering students who were digging what is now the Reflection Pond in Whitfield Court alongside Winthrop Hall.
Her generosity to the University continued throughout her long life - she died in 2005 - and culminated with the $3 million to be divided between the School of Music and the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery which houses the University art collection. She also bequeathed two paintings, by Arthur Boyd and Howard Taylor.
The third child of a Leonora shop keeper, Leah Cohen worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs during the Second World War and was present at the inaugural session of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.
She was such a keen concert-goer that after her first visit to the opera, she kept a permanent seat at Carnegie Hall in row M. It is believed she occasionally met Eleanor Roosevelt.
"We are most appreciative of bequest gifts such as that bestowed on us by Leah Cohen, gifts that enable our University to continue as a centre of international excellence in teaching and research," Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said.
"Our University was founded on a culture of philanthropy, of giving back to the community and of investing in the future to foster the highest educational standards. This tradition of bequest gifts was begun by Sir John Winthrop Hackett - the inspiration behind the establishment of the University - nearly a century ago."
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716