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Secretaries to Senate

Walter Albert Selle

Walter Albert Selle (1883 - 1968) was the University of Sydney Registrar from 1924 to 1947. The position of Registrar included being Secretary to Senate.

He also served as a Fellow of Senate from 1944 to 1964.


MA HonLLD Sydney
Registrar: 1924 - 1947
Fellow of Senate: 1944 - 1964

His background

Walter Albert Selle, the son of a German coach builder, was born in Albury on 24 February 1883.

He was educated at Albury Superior Public School and for three years was a clerk in the local military office and also to the district school inspector. Moving to Sydney in 1902, Selle completed a one-year course at Fort Street Training School. After a short time at Croydon Public School, he taught junior classes at Fort Street Model School (Boys' High School from 1911).

Promoted by the headmaster, A J Kilgour, to teach mathematics, Selle obtained a first-class certificate and became assistant mathematics master. For several years he was assistant examiner for the departmental qualifying certificate, superintendent of all examinations conducted by the Commonwealth Public Service, presiding officer at several Federal elections and clerk to the returning officer.

His students days at the University of Sydney

In 1907 Selle enrolled at the University of Sydney as an evening student, obtaining his BA in 1913. Selle was very much involved in student affairs and during this period was Vice-President of the Undergraduate Association and President of the Evening Students' Association. He graduated BA in 1913.

In 1924 he took out an MA.

His career at the University of Sydney

In December 1913 Selle was appointed clerk of examinations at the Uuniversity.

His administrative skill and tact in dealing with staff and students did not go unnoticed by the Senate; in 1922 he was appointed Assistant Registrar, Acting Registrar in 1923, and the University's fifth Registrar from 1924 to 1947.

Registrar Walter Selle c1920s

Walter Selle in the 1920s, photo G3_224_0585, University of Sydney Archives.

Registrar Walter Selle

Registrar Walter Selle, photo G3_224_1680, University of Sydney Archives.


Walter Selle in 1927, photo from the Sydney Medical School Senior Yearbook 1927-28, Faculty of Medicine Online Museum.

Selle was a Director of the Union 1916-17 and for over fifty years was associated with the Swimming Club. He was also a founder of Lodge University and its first Director of Ceremonies.


Walter Selle (front row, centre) and the Sydney University Board of Directors in 1917. Selle was President, photo from 'Hermes', November 1917.

Even during his own lifetime Selle was to become a legend. Professor Holme was to claim that "of his prodigious memory perhaps some exaggerations may become current, but nobody will ever be able to say that Selle could not quote to him or to her the full name recorded in the baptismal register, however difficult or copious that naming may have been". A kind and considerate man with unfailing good will, he was greatly esteemed by his colleagues, students and parents. The Senate and the Professorial Board found his wise counsel and almost encyclopaedic knowledge of University matters invaluable.

For many years Selle represented the University on the Bursary Endowment Board (1924-1961) and the Soldiers ' Children Education Board. During 1932- 33 and again in 1948 he was Acting Vice-Chancellor.

He was a Fellow of Senate from 1944 to 1964.


This portrait of Walter Selle by William Dargie was presented to the University by subscribers to the W A Selle Testimonial Fund in 1950, photo G77_1_256, University of Sydney Archives.


Walter Selle (centre) in 1951, the Right Honourable Herbert Vere Evatt (left) and Professor Stephen Wallace (right), photo G3_224_1408, University of Sydney Archives.


Walter Selle receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1960, photo G3_224_1576, University of Sydney Archives.

Selle died in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on 18 January 1968.

From an article by Ursula Bygott, University of Sydney Archives 'Record", September 1990 and Australian Dictionary of Biography