University Officers

Professor John Manning Ward AO

Professor John Manning Ward AO was a Fellow of Senate from 1974 to 1977 and from 1981 to 1990:

  • 1974-1977: Chairman of the Professorial Board (1974 -1975) and of its replacement, the Academic Board (1975-1977) and ex-officio Fellow of Senate
  • 1981-1990: Vice-Chancellor and ex-officio Fellow of Senate


(1919 - 1990)
Chairman, Professorial Board and ex-officio Fellow of Senate 1974 - 1975
Chairman, Academic Board and
ex-officio Fellow of Senate 1975 - 1977
Vice-Chancellor and
ex-officio Fellow of Senate 1981 - 1990

His early years

Professor Ward was born on 6 July 1919 and educated at Fort Street Boys High School.

He was the Smuts Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University in 1972; Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 1968 and Visiting Professor at Yale University in 1963.

He was admitted to the NSW Bar in 1948.

His career at the University of Sydney

Professor John Manning Ward was a distinguished historian, serving as Challis Professor of History from 1948 to 1979. He steered the History Department through a period of scarce resources into an era of expansion. Today it is one of the largest and most productive in Australia. He produced major books and articles on British, Imperial and Australian history which have won international acclaim. His boooks include "British Policy in the South Pacific, 1796-1893" (reprinted three times); "Earl Grey and the Australian Colonies, 1847-1856"; "Colonial Self-Government, the British Experience, 1759-1856"; and "James Macarthur, Colonial Conservative, 1798-1867", the latter being the first in a trilogy on conservatism in Australia. Professor Ward had planned on retirement to complete the other two books n the series.

He played a major role in the development of the activities of the University's Academic Board. He was the last Chairman of the Professorial Board (1974), drafted the constitution of the succeeding Academic Board and became its first Chairman (1975 - 1977).

Professor Ward took office as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney in 1981 and retired from that position on 31 January 1990. He was the only Univerisity of Sydney graduate to have held that post since the University's foundation. Professor Ward was a member of the University staff for 47 years.

He was highly regarded by staff and students for his administrative skills, international perspective and his personal qualities of courtesy and kindness. He maintained open channels of communication with University personnel in a period of financial restraints and during the introduction of devolved budgeting. In addition to the reform of financial and academic administration through devolution, he was at the helm during the institutional amalgamations and consolidations, which he believed would be of real academic benefit.

He established valuable personal links abroad which led to new graduate groups in several countries and academic cooperation with universities in Japan and Korea. An Honorary Doctorate was conferred on Professor Ward by Waseda University in early 1990. Waseda and the University of Sydney signed a Cultural Agreement in 1985, which encouraged acdemic visits, student exchange and the exchange of scientific materials.

From the University of Sydney News special edition, 8 May 1990


A studio portrait of Professor John Ward in the 1950s, photo G3_224_1993, University of Sydney Archives.


Vice-Chancellor Professor John Ward at a conferring of degrees ceremony in 1983, photo G77_1_0616, University of Sydney Archives.


Professor Franco Reviglio, Vice-Chancellor Professor Ward holding one of the 25 volumes of Lessico Universale Italian and the Chairman of the University of Sydney Frederick May Foundation, Mrs Adrienne Lussu in 1984, photo, University of Sydney Archives.


Vice-Chancellor Professor Ward signing an Agreement with two Indonesian institutions in 1985, photo G77_1_0280, University of Sydney Archives.


Professor John Ward with his wife Patricia Ward in the 1980s, photo, University of Sydney Archives.


Portrait of Professor Ward painted in 1985 by Sir William Dargie (1912-2003); oil on canvas; commissioned by the Vice-Chancellor and the Chancellor of the University in 1981 (University Art Collection, reproduced with the kind permission of Roger Dargie and the University of Sydney).


Artist Sir William Dargie and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ward at the unveiling of the Vice-Chancellor's portrait in the Great Hall on 29 April 1985, photo G77_1_609, University of Sydney Archives.

Professor John Ward

Vice-Chancellor Professor Ward in the Vice-Chancellor's garden, Quadrangle, photo G77_1_0603 , University of Sydney Archives.


Vice-Chancellor Professor Ward at his final Senate meeting on 4 December 1989, with Deputy Chancellor Emeritus Professor Dame Leonie Kramer presiding in the absence of the Chancellor Sir Hermann Black, photo G77_1_990, University of Sydney Archives.


Retiring Vice-Chancellor Professor Ward with his family Christopher Craigie, his daughter Anne Craigie, his wife Pat Ward and his daughter Jennifer Ward at his retirement dinner held in the Great Hall on 24 January 1990, photo G77_1_1049, University of Sydney Archives.

Doctor of the University

Following his retirement as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney on 31 January 1990, Emeritus Professor John Manning Ward received the degree of Doctor of the University at the conferring of degrees ceremony held on 16 March 1990 in recognition of his long years of service and scholarship.

In memoriam

On 6 May 1990, not long after his retirement, Professor John Manning Ward, together with his wife Patricia, 69, and his daughted Jennifer, 36, who were on board the 3801 steam train on a Sunday excursion run between Sydney and the Hunter Valley, were killed after a train crash near Hawkesbury River Station.

The collision between a commuter train and the steam train also killed Moira Jennings, the wife of the Registrar, as well as injuring several other members of the University.

The Memorial Ceremony for Emeritus Professor John Ward, Mrs Patricia Ward, Miss Jennifer Ward and Mrs Moira Jennings was held in the Great Hall at 11.30am on Thursday 21 June 1990.