History

The Standing Committee of Convocation was established in 1939 as a result of moves to establish a Graduates Association. In 2006 the Standing Committee was renamed the University of Sydney Alumni Council.

Background

Meetings of Convocation were held in 1888, 1891 and 1896. In 1935 it was proposed that a Graduates Association be established. Accordingly, a committee, headed by Percy Spender, was set up to draft a constitution for the new Association. A general meeting of graduates was called at which the draft constitution was to be presented. The meeting was held on 24 July 1935 and was attended by about 100 graduates. It was agreed that an Association be established with a number of objectives, but which was intended to represent male graduates only.

As a result of the discriminatory nature of the Association's objectives there was widespread dissent to its constitution. A meeting of Convocation was summoned for 12 September 1935. This meeting, which was attended by 1,100 graduates, passed a motion to form a more representative association. A provisional committee was also established to draft a constitution for the new association. The committee members were: R.C. Teece, H.G. Carter, P.C. Spender, Kevin Ellis, Dr R.A.M. Allen, Dr A.M. Davidson, Dr I. Clunies Ross, Jessie Street, and Monica Flower.

On 10 June 1936, a further meeting of Convocation was held with Sir Mungo MacCallum presiding. The meeting adopted the recommendations of the provisional committee and established the Graduates Association as consisting of all members of Convocation. The meeting passed resolutions providing for the election of a standing committee of Convocation, with at least a quarter of its members being female, and requesting Senate to make the necessary by-laws and regulations to bring into effect the decisions of Convocation.

After lengthy delays, caused in part by opposition to the Graduates Association from staff and the Senate, Convocation was again summoned to meet on 7 October 1938. This meeting, attended by 105 graduates in addition to a number of Fellows of Senate, adopted the draft constitution drawn up by the provisional committee and passed a resolution requesting the Senate make the necessary changes to accept the Constitution by adopting the draft by-laws of the provisional committee. At its meeting of 7 November 1938 Senate reaffirmed its earlier decision that acceptance of the Constitution of the Graduates Association would be by resolution of Senate, and not by changes to the by-laws. However in December 1938 Senate found it necessary to rescind this decision and adopted new by-laws for establishing Convocation.

The first Standing Committee of Convocation was elected in November 1939, with J.P. Tivey as President, Dr RAM Allen as Deputy President, J.M. Gosper as Honorary Secretary, and 5 other members.

The Standing Committee celebrated its 65th Anniversary at its meeting in November 2004.

Source: adapted from material from the University Archives, Archives and Records Management Services (Personal archives of James Murray GOSPER, Group No. P.070)