Rev. John Woolley, BA, MA, DCL

Dean of the Faculty of Arts, 1856–66

Rev. John Woolley - Dean of the Faculty of Arts, 1856–66

[image: courtesy of University of Sydney Archives G3 224 244]

John Woolley, English-born, graduated in Arts at the new University College, London, before going on to complete further degrees at Exeter College, Oxford. He was subsequently ordained as a minister in the Church of England.

Woolley was this university’s first professor of Classics (1852–66) and also the first professor of Logic (1855–66), as well as the Arts faculty’s first dean.

The Classics professor was at that time held to have the rank of senior professor of the university, a role which continued in principle until the 1880s. It was in that capacity that Woolley was appointed dean of the Arts faculty; for the same reason he also held the chair of the inaugural Professorial Board. He was additionally appointed the university’s first principal, a position which lapsed after him and was only revived in 1956.

Woolley held these posts until his untimely death at sea, on a voyage returning to Sydney from England in 1866. With his fellow inaugural professors, Woolley fought hard to ensure that, in the public mind, the faculty of Arts was secured firmly at the heart of the new university’s existence by developing and defending the strengths of the liberal arts curriculum.
Australian Dictionary of Biography