Fellows of Senate

Professor Ernest Rudolph Holme OBE

An early graduate of the University of Sydney (BA 1891, MA 1909), Professor Ernest Rudolph Holme OBE was a Fellow of Senate from 1921 to 1925.


MA Sydney
Fellow of Senate 1921 - 1925

His early days

Ernest Rudolph Holme was born on 18 March 1871 at Footscray, Melbourne, third son of Rev Thomas Holme, Anglican clergyman and native of Manchester, England, and his Queensland-born wife Martha Louisa Maria, née Zillman.

His father became incumbent of All Souls Church, Leichhardt, Sydney, in 1882 and Ernest was educated at The King's School, Parramatta.

His student days at the University of Sydney

Holme graduated BA with first-class honours in Latin and English at the University of Sydney in 1891 and MA in 1909.

His career

In 1891-94 Holme was an assistant master at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) and in 1894 was appointed lecturer in English (and also taught French and German) at the University of Sydney under Professor (Sir) Mungo MacCallum.

On leave in 1905, Holme studied at the universities of Paris and Berlin.

Next year his report to the University Senate on 'Aspects of Commercial Education in Europe' was published. In 1908 Holme was appointed associate professor and continued to teach modern languages.

Holme originated the plans for a reconstituted university union in 1912, providing it with its own building, gardens and lawns; he was president of the Sydney University Union in 1912-13. He tried to make evening students feel a valued part of the university and was 'almost perpetual' patron of their association.

On the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 Holme was appointed interpreter on the censorship staff, and was in charge of censoring foreign mail. In 1918 he helped to organize reinforcements for the Australian Imperial Force raised by the Sydney University Undergraduates' Association. In August he was appointed honorary captain in the AIF's education service, embarking for London after the Armistice. In February 1919 he became assistant director of education (university studies) under Bishop Long, and superintended the entry of Australian servicemen, waiting for demobilization, into British and French universities. He returned to Sydney in February 1920 through the United States of America and wrote a discursive survey, The American University (1920).

Holme was appointed to the new McCaughey Chair of English Language in July 1920.

Dean of the faculty of arts in 1921-25, Holme contributed to the expansion of the range of faculties and was prominent in the group of academics and administrators who shaped the course the university was to pursue for the next twenty years.

He was a driving force behind the development of the university's war memorials – the bronze honour rolls in the main entrance of the quadrangle unveiled in 1931; the university's Book of Remembrance (1939); and the War Memorial Carillon. In 1927-28 he was director of the university's seventy-fifth anniversary appeal which raised £300,000. He was also secretary of the University Extension Board, a director of the University Club and a founder in 1923 and later president of the (Australian) English Association.

Holme had been appointed OBE in 1920 and commander of the Belgian Order of Leopold II in 1935.

He retired from his chair in 1941, but retained a keen interest in the affairs of the University, which awarded him an honorary DLitt in 1952. He died in hospital on 20 November 1952.

From the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Assistant Professor Holme in 1911

Assistant Professor Holme (centre, middle row, with arms folded) in 1911 with members of the Evening Students Association Committee, photo G3_224_0655, University of Sydney Archives.

Assistant Professor Holme in 1912

Assistant Professor Holme in 1912, President of the Sydney University Union, photo from 'Hermes', May 1912.

Holme in uniform during World War 1

Holme in uniform as an officer in charge of the University company during World War 1, photo from 'Hermes', Novermber 1918 issue.

Professor Holme being farewelled by students prior to sailing to London in 1926

Professor Holme being farewelled by students in 1926 prior to sailing to London, photo from the 'Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 1926

Professor  Holme

Professor Holme, photo G3_224_1656, University of Sydney Archives

His membership of Senate

Holme was elected a Fellow of Senate from 1921 to 1925, representing the teaching staff.