Susan and Harry Hartford - Supporting DCU's First Access PhD Scholarship

This year saw the creation of DCU’s first Access PhD Scholarship, thanks to support from Susan and Harry Hartford. Originally from north county Dublin, Harry Hartford now lives in Los Angeles, where he is the President and Head of Fundamental Research at Causeway Capital, an investment management firm which he co-founded in June 2001. In this piece, he shares his views on the importance of inclusion in education.
We know that students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are underrepresented at PhD level, and scholarships such as this one can help to level the playing field. What inspired you and Susan to support DCU’s first ever Access PhD scholarship?

I became interested in the Access PhD Scholarship through my support for the undergraduate Access Programme. It’s hard for a person with limited resources to do an undergraduate course, never mind a postgraduate degree. For someone with limited resources, as soon as you’ve gotten through your undergraduate degree, if you can get that far, you’re going to be under financial pressure to get a job, and that puts further study out of reach. That was certainly the case for the student supported by this scholarship.

Hannan Galeb, the PhD student supported by the Access PhD scholarship, is pursuing research into the impacts of technology on education for accountants. How do you see her research making an impact?

The by-product of Hannan’s research may change the way accounting is taught and revolutionise how accountants are trained in the future. I also hope that the Access PhD Scholarship will have knock-on benefits to society in general. Education is a really important facet of a well-functioning society. It’s my belief that the more educated people are, the greater the impact on society.

What first motivated you to give to the DCU Access Programme?

I grew up in Dublin in the late seventies, early eighties, and I had a great education. At the time, going to university here was very inexpensive. I came to the United States 30 years ago, and it’s been good to me.

Today, education in Ireland has become more expensive. It’s beyond the reach of some. I think trying to level the playing field for people who might not have the same resources is a decent way to give something back to society. Over the years, I’ve been able to provide support for students who wouldn’t otherwise have the financial wherewithal to pursue higher education through initiatives like the DCU Access Programme.

There’s an opportunity cost to society when students don’t get the support to go on to further study. If access to education is limited by one’s financial circumstances, we end up limiting access for many who, with the right resources, could end up making a very meaningful contribution to society.

What is your advice to anyone looking to give back in a similar way?

If you’re thinking about giving to any organisation, you should do it because you believe in it.

“If you have a relationship, a passion, a belief, your contribution will be more meaningful. You have to believe in the impact your contribution will make, and really believe in the mission or goal of the organisation.”


Although it isn’t what inspires us to give, the tax system in the United States is very beneficial for donors, and we believe that those fiscal incentives certainly incentivise philanthropy in the private arena.

DCU’s mission is to transform lives and societies through education and research. How does that mission connect with your own values?

I like that DCU is trying to give access to education to people from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, and to other groups who historically have been marginalised. If you can improve access to education, you will have a better-informed society, and that means a society that will function well. We have supported access to education for students from seventh grade (equivalent to first year in Irish secondary schools) to postgraduate level, and it is an area we proudly believe in.

In addition to your own philanthropic giving, you also sit on the Board of the Ireland Funds. How does that organisation make an impact?

The Ireland Funds is a non-profit organisation in the United States. It’s a donor-advised programme that makes sure 100% of your donation goes to the intended recipient. To us as donors, it is very impactful to know that 100% of the funding we contribute goes to the organisation we want to support.

Interested in Supporting an Access PhD Scholarship?