The Quadrangle

The Professorial Board Room

The Fisher Library's Periodicals Room in the Quadrangle, built in 1918, was converted to the Professorial Board Room in 1964, after the Fisher Library relocated to its current premises.

Photos are courtesy of the University Secretariat unless otherwise indicated.

A meeting of the Academic Board in the Professorial Board Room, 2003

A meeting of the Academic Board in the Professorial Board Room, 2003.
At the main table, from left to right, are Vice-Chancellor
Professor Gavin Brown,  Academic Board Chair Professor Judyth Sachs,
Registrar and Secretary to the Academic Board Dr William Adams and
Academic Board Officer Miss Keri Neveldsen - enlargement

The Periodicals Room, 1918 - 1964

During a period of the University's building expansion in 1915 to 1921, when the number of students doubled to 3,275, the south-west wing of the Quadrangle was completed (1918) and became part of the Fisher Library as the Periodicals Room.

Government Architect George McRae continued the style already established in the earlier sandstone buildings, although funds were not available for extensive decoration.

In October 1919 a Garden Party was held in the Quadrangle to welcome University men returned from the war and Senate decided to erect the three memorial stained glass windows which light the stairway leading up to the Room.

Professorial Board Room, 1964 - present

In the 1960s, after the new Fisher Library was built, the Periodicals Room became the Professorial Board Room and the Reading Room became the MacLaurin Hall. The Professorial Board Room was the meeting place for the body representing the academic staff which advised Senate on all academic matters - this was the Professorial Board until 1975 when it was replaced by the Academic Board. The Room was named the Professorial Board Room by resolution of the Senate on the recommendation of its Buildings and Grounds Committee.

The Professorial Board began meeting in the Room in 1964. While the Room had been altered and refurbished for its new use as a meeting room, the features described above were not altered and the effect was essentially that of the days when the wooden panelling and beamed ceilings were in vogue.

New features included:

  • a wooden stall, complete with canopy (as in the ancient monasteries) for the presiding officers at the end of the room.
  • opposing tiers of seats arranged along its length for the members of the Board.
  • modern lighting in the form of cylindered chandeliers.
  • new carpet.
  • blue curtains.
  • air-conditioning.
 A meeting in 1965

A meeting of the Professorial Board in 1965 - enlargement,
photo, University Archives.

Due to a long-term problem of poor voice reception in the Room, a temporary amplification system for the dais was installed for the meeting held on 17 May 1982. Owing to its success, it was agreed that it be installed on a permanent basis and was operational from the Board's September 1982 meeting. It was decided that amplification from the body of the room was not required due to the technical difficulties involved.

In the late 1980's there was a fire in Professorial Board Room.

Damage to the roof in 1980s

View of damage to the roof - enlargement,
photo, courtesy of David Bradbury.

The Professorial Board Room was subsequently restored.

View more photos.

An upgrade to the sound reinforcement system was trialled successfully for the November 1993 meeting and installed in 1994.

Although the Professorial Board was dissolved on 17 June 1975 and replaced by the Academic Board, the name of the Room has not been changed and remains the Professorial Board Room.

While the Room is available to the University community for meetings, it retains its primary purpose as a venue for Academic Board meetings.

Decorative features outside the South range

Some decorative features outside are:

  • bosses on horizontal string courses on the north and south-facing walls - see below.
  • cloister on the north side.
  • gargoyles - unusual, fantastic, mythical or eerie carved creatures - on the north and south-facing walls.
  • stone carvings - see below.
A boss on the south wall An angel Lion

A boss on the south-facing wall -

An angel boss on the
Quadrangle wall,
similar to two inside the Room -

A carving of a lion on
a chimney on the Quadrangle wall -

Decorative features outside and inside the Room

  • outside the entrance door, a vaulted ceiling carved with bosses.
  • an elaborately carved entrance door of wood and stained glass - see below.
  • inside the Room, an open cedar roof almost 7m high, supported by large cross beams adorned at the end with heads of heraldic animals - see below and view more images.
  • corbels of Sydney Sandstone which support the main roof timbers carved as portrait heads of famous poets, scientists and mathematicians, each carrying an emblem representative of their field of study - see below and view more images.
  • the walls, like those of the MacLaurin Hall, which are of dressed sandstone with cedar panelling.
  • windows with stained glass - see below and view more images.
  • the arms carved at each end, decorated with floral motifs, which are elements from the University's coat of arms, with the lion and the cross at the eastern end - view image - and the book and stars at the western end see below.
  • a stone fireplace with a carved grotesque in the centre of the mantelpiece - see below - and two carved angels on either side.
The entrance door Heraldic animal Corbel with the portrait head of Shakespeare

The entrance door -

The head of one
heraldic animal
at the end of a cross beam
supporting the roof -

Corbel with the portrait
head of William Shakespeare -

Stained glass Part of the University arms A carved grotesque

Stained glass window -

The book and stars
from the University arms
on the western wall -

A carved grotesque
in the centre
of the fireplace,
with two angels on either side -