Constructing a legacy

One family's resolve to inspire future leaders in STEM

Gleb Lebedev and Michelle McLeod at the University of Adelaide

Gleb Lebedev (l) and Michelle McLeod (r)

Growing up in a single parent household through the Great Depression, Raymond McMillan knew the importance of hard work and making do with little. When University of Adelaide lecturer “Taffy” Farrent visited his high school to promote the engineering program, Ray was inspired to win a scholarship and graduated with a Civil Engineering degree in 1949. “Going to university changed the course of my father’s life, and that of our family,” said Ray’s daughter Lee-Ann Hunt.

Raymond McMillan by the River Torrens as an undergraduate in the 1940s

Raymond McMillan as an undergraduate in the 1940s 

Lee-Ann is also Director of McMillan Constructions, the family business Ray started with just £800. Initially borrowing equipment from family and friends, he reinvested the profits until he transformed the company into a booming construction business, working on projects such as the Port Pirie Silos, the Glenelg Ferry Terminal, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Adelaide Oval Grandstand, and even the University’s own Braggs Building.

Following Ray’s death in 2019, McMillan Constructions made one of the largest single gifts from a private company in the University’s history. The $4.55 million donation will support two new Civil Engineering scholarships and a new STEM Teacher in Residence Program.

“My father would be proud to see how his company is encouraging and supporting others like him. Many academically gifted students need additional support to succeed in their studies, just as he did,” said Lee-Ann.

Living independently with no financial support from family, receiving the inaugural Raymond McMillan Civil Engineering scholarship has alleviated Carla Gore of financial distress. “I have become more driven but also more relaxed, swapping long working hours for quality time studying and a multitude of other opportunities provided by the University. Receiving this scholarship was a wonderful surprise,” Carla said.

The Reverend Paul Hunt, Lee-Ann Hunt and Rachael Hunt

Lee-Ann Hunt (center) with The Reverend Paul Hunt and Rachael Hunt

The inaugural Raymond McMillan High Achiever Scholarship was awarded to Gleb Lebedev, a school leaver from Paradise. Despite not being able to afford textbooks or a graphing calculator, Gleb was awarded dux of his school and STEM student of the year.

“Raymond McMillan's legacy has had an uplifting effect on me and my studies. It has elevated my drive and passion towards academia and removed financial limitations from my personal development,” Gleb said.

Becoming the inaugural STEM Teacher in Residence Program Coordinator has been an exciting opportunity for Michelle McLeod. With development and planning underway, leading to an official launch in October, the program focuses on strengthening STEM engagement through outreach events, building teaching resources and learning activities, collaborating with secondary schools, and promoting the diverse range of STEM-related study and career pathways, research, innovations and industries.

Michelle has taken leave from her position at Immanuel College for a two-year secondment to take up this new challenge. “If you told me I could write my own job description, this would have to be it. What an amazing opportunity! The chance to inspire young people to see what they have never seen before – to capture their imaginations and help them understand what a STEM career can be to them, and what it can offer to their life journeys,” said Michelle. “It is incredibly generous of McMillan Constructions to continue Ray’s legacy in such a tangible, meaningful way.”

To find out more about leaving a lasting gift see:

Story by Alex Bassett
Photos by Meaghan Coles & McMillian Family

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