Professorial Board Room
The Library's Periodicals Room in the Quadrangle, built in 1918, was converted to the Professorial Board Room in 1964 for meetings of the Professorial Board and, from 1975, for meetings of its successor, the Academic Board.
During a period of the University's building expansion in 1915 to 1921, when the number of students doubled to 3,275, the south-west wing of the Quadrangle was completed (1918) and became part of the Library as the Periodicals Room.
Government Architect McRae, who had worked with Colonel Vernon (the Government Architect) as Principal Assistant Architect on the Library's Reading Room (MacLaurin Hall), continued the style already established in the earlier sandstone buildings, although funds were not available for extensive decoration.
In October 1919 a Garden Party was held in the Quadrangle to welcome University men returned from the war and Senate decided to erect the memorial stained glass windows which light the stairway leading up to the Room.
The Room is nearly 15m long and 12.5m wide, with an open cedar roof almost 7m high, supported by large cross beams adorned at the end with heads of heraldic animals:
The corbels of Sydney Sandstone which support the main roof timbers are carved as portrait heads of famous poets, scientists and mathematicians, each carrying an emblem representative of their field of study and expressing the theme of the continuation of the Greek cultural tradition through the arts and sciences of Britain. The builders were emphasising, as in the Great Hall and the Medical School, that the European traditions of scholarship and learning were being continued in the southern hemisphere.
There are carved heads around the Room, as follows from left to right:
In the 1960's, after the new Fisher Library was built, the Periodicals Room became the Professorial Board Room and the Reading Room became the MacLaurin Hall. The Professorial Board Room was the meeting place for the body representing the academic staff which advised Senate on all academic matters - this was the Professorial Board until 1975 when it was replaced by the Academic Board. The Room was named the Professorial Board Room by resolution of the Senate on the recommendation of its Buildings and Grounds Committee.
The Professorial Board began meeting in the Room in 1964. While the Room had been altered and refurbished for its new use as a meeting room, the features described above were not altered and the effect was essentially that of the days when the wooden panelling and beamed ceilings were in vogue.
New features included:
- a wooden stall, complete with canopy (as in the ancient monasteries) for the presiding officers at the end of the room.
- opposing tiers of seats arranged along its length for the members of the Board.
- modern lighting in the form of cylindered chandeliers.
- new carpet
- blue curtains.
Due to a long-term problem of poor voice reception in the Room, a temporary amplification system for the dais was installed for the meeting held on 17 May 1982. Owing to its success, it was agreed that it be installed on a permanent basis and was operational from the Board's September 1982 meeting. It was decided that amplification from the body of the room was not required due to the technical difficulties involved.
In the late 1980's there was a fire in Professorial Board Room and the damage to the roof can be seen from the following photograph, courtesy of David Bradbury:
The Professorial Board Room was subsequently restored.
An upgrade to the sound reinforcement system was trialled successfully for the November 1993 meeting and installed in 1994.
Although the Professorial Board was dissolved on 17 June 1975 and replaced by the Academic Board, the name of the Room has not been changed and remains the Professorial Board Room.
While the Room is available to the University community for meetings, it retains its primary purpose as a venue for Academic Board meetings.