University anniversaries

75th anniversary, 1927

The Anniversary Appeal

The 75th Anniversary Appeal for £250,000 was launched on on 8 July 1927 and concluded on 11 October 1928, the date of the 76th Anniversary.


– University finances:

The University is still badly in want of funds, in order to maintain its present standard of efficiency in the teaching of students and to administer properly its many other needs. The erection of new buildings (some of which have been left uncompleted owing to lack of funds) to give adequate accommodation to students, has placed an added burden on the finances for equipment, additional staff and yearly upkeep. A contributing factor to the present position has been the increase in wages of approximately £8,000 per annum of laboratory attendants and assistants since 1922.

It has not yet been possible to restore the vote from the McCaughey Fund for scientific research, which was suspended in 1923, and many requests from the various departments throughout the University for necessary apparatus, material and additional staff have had to be refused for lack of funds.

Shortly after the war, there was an abnormal increase in the number of students attending at the University, the natural outcome being a steady drop in numbers since 1920 on the completion of their courses by these students. Bedrock appears to have now been reached in this direction, and a slight yearly increase in numbers should be looked for in the future.

In an endeavour to improve the financial position, the Senate in 1926 reluctantly imposed a General Services Fee of 10 shillings per term on all students proceeding to a degree or diploma. This was found to be inadequate, and was raised to 1 pound 1 shilling per term in 1927. The imposition of this fee is a temporary measure, which it is proposed to withdraw as soon as the finances of the University will permit.

(From the 1927 Senate Annual Report)

– University grounds:

The University grounds, as the 'Varsity authorities would be the lirst to admit, are unworthy of the institution they encircle. There is ample excuse for their shortcomings. The Universlty has done its best, but its resources are quite insufficient for the purpose. The grounds are extensive, and require a large staff to keep them in decent order, let alone to make them a thing of beauty. But money that might have gone to pay such a staff has had to be diverted to meet more urgent demands. The few hands that can be employed are incapable of coping with the task, and, in consequence, the grounds, to put it bluntly, have a forlorn and shabby air.

The grounds of the University of Sydney are not in jeopardy, but the idea underlying this phase of the appeal is similar to that which prompted the creation of the Oxford society. The goal is beauty, which elevates and inspires. Those grounds are open to all, and now that the carillon is installed they will be visited by larger numbers. Let us help to make them a verdant oasis in a desert of bricks and mortar. The first university was the garden of Academia, famous for its groves, in which Plato lectured. Let our southern Academia also have its groves and its blossoming gardens to which our citizens will repair for pleasure and refreshment.

(From the 'Sydney Morning Herald', 23 June 1928, courtesy of NLA Newspapers)

Behind the Western Tower
Behind the Fisher Library

Photos published in Hermes, Trinity volume, 1927, showing the state of disrepair of the grounds within and outside the Quadrangle, courtesy, University Archives. The caption read: "One object of the 75th Anniversary Appeal is to obtain money to recondition the University grounds and roads. These photographs serve to illustrate their present condition".

Planning the appeal

At the suggestion of the Vice-Chancellor, an Anniversary Appeal Committee was established by the Senate on 13 December 1926 to consider the question of making an appeal to graduates and friends of the University on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of the University.

The Committee submitted the following recommendations to the Senate:

  1. That to mark the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of the University an appeal be made to graduates and friends of the University for financial assistance, the appeal to specify some of the most urgent needs of the University.
  2. That, without suggesting any order of preference, particular reference be made in the appeal to the needs of the following:
    (a) The Library.
    (b) Roads and grounds.
    (c) Increased efficiency in the several University Departments.
    (d) Sporting activities for the undergraduates.

The Committee was to raise funding for the University through publicity and to oversee the appeal and ensure that it was conducted correctly. The money was required to clear a deficit of £8000 amassed by the University, also to ‘meet urgent capital expenditure of a non-recurring nature’ and to provide an endowment to increase revenue for general expenditure.

The Committee was made up of the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Mungo MacCallum, and various members of the University staff and supporters of the University.

Professor E R Holme was relieved of his professorial duties and appointed as Director of the Appeal.

The 75th Anniversary Appeal, 1927 - 1928

The public appeal for £250,000 was begun at a meeting held in the Sydney Town Hall Vestibule on 8 July 1927.

Newspaper notice

Notice from the 'Sydney Morning Herald', 9 July 1927, courtesy, NLA Newspapers.

Co-operation of many leading authorities in finance, business and education was obtained, and support came from many generous friends and members of the University. The fund began with £10,000 from the Sydney Morning Herald, and £500 from the Hon Mr Justice Davidson, a distinguished graduate.

The early course of the appeal was marked by two important events at the University:

The appeal concluded on 11 October 1928, the date of the 76th Anniversary.

Some Appeal activities

  • Engineering students' working bee, August 1927 ... gallery

Some fund-raising events for the Appeal

Fund-raising events for the Appeal included:

  • The Sports Union's fete, 10 September 1927 ... details
  • Lyceum Club's Literary Dance, 18 November 1927 ... details
  • Deewhy Choral Society's University Appeal Concert, 3 April 1928... details
  • The University of Sydney pageant and mask, 8 to 12 May 1928 ... details and photos
From the pageant and mask

Miss Gretel Bellmore as Lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth and Mr Somerset de Chair as Sir Walter Raleigh, as part of the University of Sydney pageant and mask, photo from the Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 12 May 1928.