University anniversaries

75th anniversary, 1927

The Anniversary Dinner in the Great Hall, 11 October 1927

The University's 75th Anniversary Dinner was held on 11 October 1927, the date of the inauguration of the University in 1852 as "the first colonial University in the British Empire". It was attended by over 350 members of Senate, staff, graduate body and guests. Many graduates of the University who had won distinction in the outside world returned to pay reverence to their alma mater.

Academic dress was worn by members of the Senate and staff and by many graduates.

The Chancellor (Sir William Cullen) presided.

His Excellency the Governor-General (Lord Stonehaven) and the Prime Minister (the Rt Hon S M Bruce) were present and their advocacy of the University's cause had important influence on the later course of the appeal.

The Anniversary Dinner

The Anniversary Dinner in the Great Hall, photo, 'Sydney Morning Herald', 12 October 1927, courtesy NLA Newspapers.

The Governor-General

Proposing the toast of His Excellency the Governor-General, Sir William Cullen recalled early struggles to establish the union
of'the States of Australia, and the part played by the University in achieving it. He said that he believed that Federation was leading towards the ideals which had been hoped for it. Speaking of His Excellency, Sir William said that Lord Stonehaven had done an immense amount towards acquainting himself with tbe conditions of life and habit, of thought and speech of the citizens of Australia. He felt very strongly regarding the link between Australia and the rest of the British Empire that was constituted by the appointment of Governors-General of the Commonwealth. In Lord Stonehaven and his immediate predecessors, Lord Novar and Lord Forster, Australians felt that they had gentlemen of the highest ideals, who were imbued with deep sympathy with the ideals and ambitions of the people of Australla.

Lord Stonehaven's Appeal

Lord Stonehaven expressed his pleasure at having the privilege of taking part in the "birthday party" of a great institution. He
expressed hope and confidence that the University would continue in the future to play its part in the interests of the Empire, Australia, and the States – the part that it had played for the past 75 years.

Lord Stonehaven, referring to the finances of the University, said the fact had to be faced that the University was short of funds. He would like to appeal to those who had more money than they required to transfer some of it to the University. During the 75
years of its existence, the University had played a glorious part in the progress of the State. It remained for the people of New
South Wales to see that the work already done was only the beginning of a great record.

Lord Stonehaven mentioned that in 1923 there had been a deficit of £8000, and last year of £2729, and the University was faced with a further deficit next year. He outlined some of the work that the University was doing for the good of the community in various fields of research and in the education of students free of charge, but pointed out that lack of funds was leading to the neglect of the dual function of the University – that of imparting and augmenting kuowledge. He invited those present, who were able to do so, to range themselves with the great men of the past, to make the ideals and aspirations of those men their own, and to aspire to a future not unworthy of the great ideals of the past. (Applause.)

Sir William proposed the toast of His Excellency the Governor (Sir Dudley de Chair) who was unable to be present.

Mr Bruce's Address

Proposing the toast to the University of Sydney, Mr Bruce said that they had to remember that universities were not local institutions confined to the State in which they were situated and serving the interests of that particular State only, but they also had to think of them in terms of being great national institutions in which every citizen had a vital interest and was called upon to support. They should take the name pride in them as national institutions as the British people took in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He had always regarded the Great Hall of the University of Sydney as the greatest monument that stood in Australia to-day of the courage, faith and vision of the early pioneers of this continent. There were many lessons that could be drawn from it. He doubted whether to-day with its 6,000,000 people Australia would have the courage to erect such a great hall as this in the same way as their forefathers had done when the population of the Commonwealth was only a quarter of the present population of Sydney. The same courage and vision had been displayed in the federation of the Australian States. In the 25 years since that had been accomplished and during the stress of war, the wisdom and long-visioned statesmanship of the founders of federation had been made apparent. They wanted to-day the vision to see and the courage to execute that which had been possessed by the pioneers. Many people, continued Mr. Bruce, regarded the £250,000 for which the University was appealing as a sum beyond their powers of raising. He hoped that that spirit would disappear and there would come in its place a recognition of the part that the University had played in the progress and development of the Continent. He hoped that they would not only get that sum now, but would also get whatever they wanted in the future, so that the great work of the University could be carried on. They wanted tbe people to give not only something that they could spare, but something that they felt it difficult to spare. Mr Bruce mentioned incidentally that a bill would shortly be introduced in the Federal Parliament to exempt from taxation gifts to universities.

Mr Bruce paid tribute to the part played by the universities of the Commonwealth in the development of the primary and secondary industries, and emphasised the value of cooperation of science and industry. Their need in Australia, he said, was not for money to continue research work, but for trained men to carry it on, and they had to look to the universities to supply those men. The Commonwealth had recognised that in its efforts to apply that principle, and had set aside £100,000 for that purpose. The greatest thing, however, that the universities were doing for Australia was the training of the leaders of the race and building up the character and ideals of the men and women who would shape the destinies of the nation. The value of the work that they were doing in that regard could not be estimated. When they came to the day when the universities were to be financed entirely by the State, their independence and fundamental character would pass away, and they would no longer turn out the same calibre of people that the universities of the British Empire had turned out to lead the British people in every part of the world. (Applause.)

Sir William briefly responded to the toast.

The toast of the Chancellor was proposed by Sir Mark Sheldon.

(From the 'Sydney Morning Herald', 12 October 1927, courtesy NLA Newspapers)