The Residential Halls Committee
New College was the outcome of 15 years of prayer, planning and hard work. The genesis of the vision that additional Christian residential colleges were needed on Australian university campuses can be traced to seven people who began meeting in Sydney in 1954. It seems most likely that the first conversations were between Broughton Knox and Lawrence Lyons inspired by their experience of residential colleges overseas (particularly in Britain) and soon thereafter another five people who were gathered together as like-minded visionaries who believed that it was possible to conceive, fund and build additional colleges. In the first instance they saw Sydney University as the preferred site for the first college. A committee was formed referred to as ‘The Halls of Residence Committee’. The members of this group were Lawrence Lyons (seen by all as the ‘driver’), Broughton Knox (perhaps with the initial inspiration), Edwin Judge, Alison Lyons, Norman Jenkyn QC, Ron Winton and Clive Kerle. This group began meeting formally in 1955 to discuss where colleges might be built, what form they would take, how they would be funded and so on. Initially, they believed that a good place to start was by purchasing existing buildings, using them as residential halls or hostels as a means to raise funds and acquire land. They purchased two old hotels in Glebe, a hostel that they named Latimer House at Petersham and later several residences at Kensington when opportunities at Sydney University seemed unlikely or unsuitable. In these initial years there was energy, ideas and a determination to get things done and a common understanding that no was never an acceptable answer. In time it became obvious that a more formal incorporated entity would be required. As all the initial group were Anglicans they sought the support of the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church.
What was NUCC?
The body formed was the ‘New University Colleges Council’ (NUCC) and it was formed as a company limited by guarantee in 1960, and held its first meeting on 13th September. NUCC was made up primarily of members of the initial visionary group and was inspired by the need for a stronger Christian presence on university campuses. Present at this first meeting were Broughton Knox (Principal of Moore College) who chaired the meeting, Dr Lawrence Lyons (Reader in Chemistry at Sydney University), Edwin Judge (Reader in History at Sydney University), Alison Lyons (a University of Sydney Arts graduate), Norman Jenkyn QC and Rt Reverend R. Clive Kerle, who was elected to become the ongoing Chair of NUCC. Others elected to NUCC in the early months included the Venerable Herbert Maxwell Arrowsmith (as Diocesan representative) who attended only one meeting (Oct 10th 1960) and lost his membership of the board ‘despite a warning note’. Others elected in the first year included John Hawke (10th Oct 1960 who had been a previous Chair of NUCC prior to incorporation but who did not attend a meeting until 5th Apr 1962), the Rt Rev A. W. Goodwin Hudson (10th Oct 1960), Dr Ron Winton (appointment date unclear but probably 10th Oct 1960 (he was to become the Chair on 16th Jan 1961), Mr P. McRae was invited to be an Adviser and Honorary Treasurer at the initial meeting (13th Sept, 1960). The consistent and core people in the critical first four years after incorporation were Broughton Knox, Lawrence Lyons, Edwin Judge, Alison Lyons, Ron Winton, Clive Kerle, John Hawke (from 1962), and Norman Jenkyn. It was this group that acted on the initial vision and the work of the Latimer House Committee and who fought to convince universities, the Diocese of Sydney and local, state and federal governments of the merits of this ‘New’ college that was to be built. By 1964 most major approvals were well advanced, funds were raised or promised and the hard task of design and construction were underway. As well, the vision had extended to sites at Macquarie University and even back at Sydney University.
A new UNSW Residential College
Negotiations to build a college began with the University of NSW in 1960. UNSW had opened the first of its secular ‘Kensington Colleges’, Basser College in 1959. The University clearly needed student accommodation and the Vice-Chancellor Professor Philip Baxter, was supportive of NUCC and its proposals. Prominent business and lay people were approached for support to fund the construction of the proposed College. In the end NUCC raised funds from MLC borrowings and money held on behalf of the then Church of England Television Society. Land for the location of the College was considered at Little Bay, Daceyville and on part of the Randwick Racecourse site.
The University eventually agreed to provide land on campus at a “peppercorn rent” for both Anglican and Roman Catholic Colleges on Anzac Parade near the Barker Street corner of the campus. The Vice-Chancellor required that a foundation clause be added that was taken from the Act of Incorporation of Sydney University (and which was written into the Acts establishing most other Australian universities) – that “no religious test shall be administered to any person in order to entitle him to be admitted as a student of the said college or to enjoy any benefit, advantage or privilege thereof”. This ‘no religious’ test policy remains in place today and is an important part of the New College community, one that accepts people place of varied faiths, and those who have none. The lease for an Anglican college was signed with the University of NSW in 1966. Construction of the College began in 1967.
What’s in a Name?
The first Master of the College was Rev Noel Pollard, former Librarian & lecturer at Moore Theological College, who was invited to be the founding Master on 7th July 1967. He commenced his appointment overseeing the building of the College and the recruitment of the first intake of students in 1969. Rev Pollard recommended in June 1968 that the College be referred to as New College named after its famous namesake in the UK, although in many ways the name was simply a result of the inability to settle on a unique name. And of course, it was a ‘new’ college.
New College opens
The early years (Front Row): second from left Dr John Higinbotham, Rev Noel Pollard (Master), Phil Grouse (Dean), Dr Russell Clark with the rest of the inaugural academic staff (Tutors).
The College opened in February 1969 with a full intake of 210 male students. When Rev Dr Stuart Barton Babbage became Master in 1973 he recommended that the College become co-ed, with the first women admitted in 1974. Apart from care and support for students, the College sought to engage intellectually with the University and wider community .
The College developed significantly under Dr Babbage’s guidance. Dr Babbage introduced eminent speakers at formal dinners, where a ‘who’s who’ of campus and society attend to share their views and experiences with the student body. He also began the College’s ongoing work in academic Christian scholarship and apologetics by holding regular ‘Forum’ dinners. These provided opportunity for serious wrestling with contemporary issues such as genetic engineering, censorship, apartheid, culture, ecology and other faiths. Dr Babbage’s Christian intellectual endeavours provided the impetus for the annual New College Lectures and the present Centre for Apologetic Scholarship and Education.
In 1983 Moore College trained Rev Dr Bruce Kaye became the College’s third Master serving in the role until 1994. He went on to become the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Australia General Synod. During his time at New College Dr Kaye set up the Institute for Values Research (IVR). The IVR was funded by a significant grant from the Vincent Fairfax Family foundation to explore issues related to the values espoused by different groups and organisations including churches, the media and government bodies. Dr Kaye also set up the annual public lecture series he called the New College Lectures. This event became a major date on the College’s calendar and has had a significant impact in the College, University and the broader community. In the world of ideas the creation of the New College Lectures was a significant achievement of Dr Kaye's Mastership .
In 1995 former Headmaster of St Andrews Cathedral School Dr Allan Beavis became the College’s fourth Master. Dr Beavis' term as Master continued through until April 2002. In his term Dr Beavis supported the ongoing work of the IVR and the New College Lecture Series as well as introducing changes to the way in which the College was to be governed. During Dr Beavis' Mastership new pastoral and academic care support mechanisms were introduced to significantly enhance the College’s community and academic life. Near the end of his term Dr Beavis visited Asia and hosted three Alumni reunion dinners in HK, KL and Singapore.
In August 2002 Prof Trevor Cairney became the College’s fifth and present Master. A prominent educator and lay Christian, Prof Cairney is the immediate past President & Chairman of the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students. He has served on many Christian boards and committees including the Moore College Advisory Committee, Anglican Education Commission, Morling Theological College Council and national Christian education bodies. He has also been an active member and leader of many education organizations relating to his research and scholarship, and has a number of business interests. He is President of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce and a director of Australian Business Limited Board .
Since taking up the position of Master, Prof Cairney has overseen the establishment of a new Centre designed to focus more closely on the role of Christian apologetics, the centre is called CASE – the Centre for Apologetic Scholarship and Education. Prof Cairney has also led the fundraising and Alumni work of the College and implemented the building development project which saw the addition of a new floor to the building increasing the College’s capacity by 37. This project also included the addition of a lift and the renovation of all existing bathrooms. For more on this story see ‘Gilly's Elevator’ in New College History.
From 2004 to 2008 Professor Cairney led a project with the support of the New College Board and staff to create the first post-graduate accommodation facility on campus at the University of New South Wales. The New College Village officially opened in 2009. New College Village is now a thriving community that is home to many of Australia’s finest upper-year undergraduates and post-graduate researchers.