Lumen - The University of Adelaide Magazine The University of Adelaide Australia
Lumen Winter 2014 Issue
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1960s: Creation of the Festival State


Professor John Bishop

Professor John Bishop


Professor Fay Gale

Professor Fay Gale


Union Hall

Union Hall

South Australia has long been known as the Festival State - a proud label that is largely due to the efforts of John Bishop, the Elder Professor of Music at the University of Adelaide for nearly 20 years. Professor Bishop made a series of important contributions to music and the arts in Australia and one of these came late in his life when he helped establish the Adelaide Festival of Arts, which included performances in Union Hall. He was the Festival's first Artistic Director and its success triggered a great period for the arts at the University with the involvement of students and staff in many national and international premiere performances, and the establishment of the first electronic music studio in Australia.

Union Hall was also the scene of much controversy over the premiere production of Patrick White's Ham Funeral, produced by the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild following its rejection by the Governors of the Festival of Arts.

A passionate belief in justice

Fay Gale was a pioneer in many respects. Her passion for social justice and equality of opportunity was inspirational. Her research into Indigenous issues opened up new areas of thought and research, the influence of which is still being felt 50 years on. She was the first honours graduate in geography from the University of Adelaide, the first woman to hold a chair at the University, and its only female professor for 10 years. Professor Gale's 1960 thesis studied assimilation and its impact on Aboriginal Australians. This work has been influential in current debates about Aboriginal issues including the stolen generations, native title and health care for mothers and babies.

It became an anthropology text in numerous universities and was influential in the move towards citizenship and land rights for Indigenous people. It also helped lead to the introduction in South Australia of the nation's first anti-discrimination Act.

Massive bequest aids agricultural research

Pastoralist John Stanley Davies spent his working life improving strains of beef cattle - a passion that has directly benefitted the University of Adelaide. He never married and on his death in 1968 he bequeathed most of his estate to the University and part to Prince Alfred College. He asked that the trustees carry on farming on his properties - Munduney at Spalding and Moralana Station north of Hawker - for 20 years and to promote research into cattle and beef production.

His bequest was one of the most significant in the University's long history. A $50-million endowment was made possible through the sale of the properties in 1989 and another generous bequest from John Andrew Tennant Mortlock who left his Martindale Farm to the University. The money is being used for the largest expansion of University-based research into animal and crop health and production in Australian history.

Benham legacy boosts English literature

Major works of English literature have been added to the University library thanks to the generosity of Edward Warner Benham, a lawyer and part-time lecturer in property law from 1910-1938. In 1969, Mr Benham left a William Blake watercolour, a reproduction of Progress of Poesy worth almost $200,000, to purchase works in English literature, British history and the law of property, private international law and British legal history.

The endowment has enabled significant purchases in English literature, notably relating to William Blake, and also helped the library develop a fine collection in British history.



Milestones and achievements

1960 First Festival of Arts - venues included the University's Union Hall

1960 Adelaide Choral Society formed

1960 Construction of Napier building

1961-1964 Trilogy of Patrick White plays premiered by the Theatre Guild

1961 Anti-Cancer Campaign Committee renamed the Anti-Cancer Foundation of the University of Adelaide

1961 John Carver became Elder Professor of Physics until 1978

1963 Masters of Business Administration program is established

1966 Emeritus Professor Peter Karmel (PhD ad eundem gradum) becomes the first Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University

1967 WRESAT, the first Australian satellite was launched from Woomera following a joint venture between the Weapons Research Establishment and the University Physics Department led by Professor John Carver

1967-1968 John Jefferson Bray appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia and Chancellor of the University

1968 Barr Smith Library new western entrance development

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