A college for all seasons
2007 marks the 40th anniversary of Adelaide's Kathleen Lumley College, where thousands of postgraduate students and visiting academics have made their home over the past four decades.
Lively debates in the common room, port and late-night coffee, the British Hotel, and 5am wakeup calls from the gibbons at neighbouring Adelaide Zoo... Anyone who has lived at Kathleen Lumley College will be familiar with these memories. Next year, they will have the chance to recount them in person.
The 40th anniversary of Kathleen Lumley College, situated in a picturesque, tree-lined North Adelaide street, will be cause for celebration in October 2007.
Since 1967, more than 2000 people from far-flung corners of the earth have hung their hat--albeit temporarily--in the postgraduate residential college.
Many of these former residents, from at least 50 different countries, now occupy senior positions in universities, research institutions and private enterprise.
They include a Vice-Chancellor, a Member of the House of Lords, one of Australia's highest ranking bankers, a global Internet expert as well as scientists, medical doctors and engineers of international repute.
Singaporean-based Margaret Tan, who lived at Kathleen Lumley College in the 1980s, has fond memories of her time in Adelaide.
"Although we worked very hard during the week, we also played hard on Friday nights--relaxing with a couple of beers at the British Hotel. I was fortunate to meet so many students from different cultures, from as far afield as South Africa, Uganda, Ireland and Croatia, and through them I learned to look at the world from different perspectives," she said.
Dr Tan obtained her Masters of Business Management while living at Kathleen Lumley College. She is now an Associate Professor in Mass Communications at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. In 2006 Dr Tan also edited The Southern Light--Enlightening and Enriching, a book commemorating the achievements of the Singaporean alumni over the past 50 years (see page 26).
ANZ's senior managing director, Bob Edgar, was another college resident from 1969-71 while studying for his Masters of Economics.
"It was a very dynamic community --there was always something going on in the upstairs lounge and discussions were intense, sometimes emotional and often rebellious," Mr Edgar said.
"The Buttery (the honour system bar) had a `special'--flagons of Woodley's port--that somehow seemed to empty remarkably quickly over the night.
"All in all, it was a very complete and tightly knit community. I don't know anybody that left because they were unhappy with Lumley life," he said.
Allan Bretag, who was one of the first residents of Kathleen Lumley College back in 1967, is now an Adjunct Professor in the School of Pharmacy & Medical Sciences at the University of South Australia.
"It was in the pleasant architectural surrounds of the College back in 1969 that I courted my wife-to-be, Lesley Byers. She and I still love to come back for the Founders' Dinners and sometimes we just like to drive past slowly, to feast our eyes and reminisce."
Other former residents include Jane Lomax-Smith, the South Australian Minister for Education, Children's Services and Tourism; eminent British sociologist, the late Lord (Michael) Young of Dartington; Professor Livingstone Luboobi, Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University; and Dr Deane Fergie, now Head of Anthropology at the University of Adelaide.
"I came here as a postgraduate from Canberra in 1978. I have great memories of sitting around the fireplace in the common room during winter, drinking port and solving the problems of the world," Dr Fergie recalled.
"We were all unreconstructed hippies who were drawn together in one place, developing really strong friendships with each other, some which have lasted a lifetime," she said.
The prime movers in the founding of Kathleen Lumley College in 1967 were the then-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, Sir Kenneth Wills, Vice-Chancellor Sir Henry Basten and the President of the PGSA, Colin Philips.
Sir Kenneth Wills approached his sister, Kathleen Lumley, seeking support for the venture. A generous benefaction from Kathleen Lumley, together with matching grants from both the State and Commonwealth Governments, and a gift of land from the University, ensured the College was given the green light.
College Master David Clements is an integral part of its fabric, clocking up 26 years in residence.
"The student body has changed substantially over that time," Professor Clements said. "In the early years, the postgraduates were largely doing research degrees by thesis. Their workload was not as consistently intense as the postgrads today, who are predominantly international students, many of them studying course work."
Kathleen Lumley College is a unique feature of the Australian university scene as a postgraduate residential college.
It is 100% independently incorporated, with all its income being derived from student fees.
At full capacity the College can house 68 students in a mixture of 19th Century cottages and an accommodation block designed by Dickson & Platten, which is now on the Heritage Register. The architects won an award for the finest scholastic building erected in Australia in 1968.
The current student body consists of 64 residents from the following countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.
A portrait of Kathleen Lumley hangs in the Reading Room, with her inscription: "May God endow everyone who will work in this college with health, wisdom and happiness."
The 80-year-old widow uttered these words when she flew out from England in February 1968 to lay the College's foundation stone.
Today, almost 40 years on, the sentiment has not changed.
"It was one of the best periods of my life," said Dr Fergie. ■
Story Candy Gibson