The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence, today announced that the University's iconic jacaranda tree will be replaced next April with a cloned jacaranda as well as a native tree.
"The University of Sydney is both rooted in a deeply Australian identity, and reaches out to the horizon to see the future, bring knowledge and talent to Australia and send it out around the world in the international trade in ideas," said Dr Spence.
"The jacaranda tree that stands at the heart of our tradition is an imported species, and expresses our commitment to this international tradition.
"But we are built on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and recognise that we also, as Australians, have links to a tradition of learning that reaches back tens of thousands of years. So as we replant the jacaranda, we are also committed to replanting a local tree in an iconic location, either in the Quadrangle or elsewhere, to express both our strong local ties and our commitment to reaching out to the world."
The new native tree will serve as a powerful reminder of the centuries of knowledge-sharing by the traditional owners of the land, as well as the University's pioneering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. This includes Dr Charles Perkins AO – the University's first Aboriginal graduate – and Jack Manning-Bancroft, who founded the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience while a student at the University of Sydney.
"When walking into the magnificent sandstone quadrangle it's easy to overlook the site's traditional history, despite the lasting impact of the Gadigal people who have held stewardship of this place for centuries," said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Shane Houston.
"From the sandstone itself, quarried from Gadigal and Wangal country, to the beams of the Great Hall crafted from timber from Bundjalung country, there are traces of this proud history wherever you look.
"An iconic native tree is a visible and potent embodiment of this story, and marks our commitment to closing the education gap and continuing research which improves the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."
As iconic as the original jacaranda is, we couldn't let this opportunity to put down such symbolic roots escape us.
The University is currently weighing suggestions from our community over which species of native tree to plant. Suggestions so far include a flame tree, which often flowers at a similar time to the jacaranda; a Yellowbox tree; or a tree which is not only Australian but also native to the lands of the Gadigal people.
Some academic staff have expressed a preference for a tree which flowers earlier in the year as an encouragement for students to study sooner. University folklore says that any undergraduate who fails to study before the jacaranda tree's first bloom appears will fail their exams.
"People have been meeting on these grounds for many generations to reflect together and share ideas. As iconic as the original jacaranda is, we couldn't let this opportunity to put down such symbolic roots escape us," said Dr Spence.
Alumni who wish to be kept informed about the progress of the new tree plantings are encouraged to update their contact details with us.