John Smith, CMG, MA, MD, LLD (hon.)

1821–85
Dean of the Faculty of Arts, 1884–85

Dean of the Faculty of Arts, 1884

[photographer John Smith: courtesy of University of Sydney Archives P209 60]

John Smith, Scottish-born, graduated with degrees in Arts and Medicine from Marischal College, Aberdeen University, Scotland.

Smith was the foundation professor of Chemistry and Experimental Physics from 1852 to 1881, when science teaching was an integral part of the Arts curriculum. On the establishment of the Science faculty, in 1882, Smith relinquished chemistry to the new faculty but he remained within the Arts faculty, as professor of Experimental Physics. He continued to teach until his death in 1885.

Being the last-surviving of the three original professors at this university, Smith was appointed dean of the Arts faculty when Badham died, to complete Badham’s term, and also served as chair of the Professorial Board. However, he resigned these offices just over a year later, in March 1885, when W. Scott was appointed to the Classics chair.

A qualified medical doctor, who had practised before coming to Sydney University, Smith had also previously served as inaugural dean of the faculty of Medicine (when it was just an examining faculty). He was a noted photographer, and to him we owe the earliest images of this university, its students and staff, including this one. Aberdeen University conferred on him an honorary doctorate in 1876, and he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1878.
Australian Dictionary of Biography

John Smith’s photographs