Jubilee and Centenary Celebrations

University Centenary Medal1974 Grant Hancock

As the University embarks on its 150th celebrations, it is interesting to cast a glance backwards at how we have celebrated major milestones in our past.

Research into our 50th Jubilee shows that things were, understandably, lower key.Celebrations were held in 1926 – that year chosen to mark 50 years since teaching began in 1876, rather than the formation of the University two years earlier, which we now celebrate. The total cost of the celebrations was £709 (about $60,000 in today’s currency) and they ran from 14 - 20 August with all events ticketed.

The University Mace was created as a memorial of the Jubilee.

The major event of the celebrations was the Chancellor’s reception and Conversazione - which resembled the Open Days we still hold. Sir Douglas Mawson gave a short lecture South Australia under the ice and Professor Kerr Grant gave a lecture on High Tension Electrical Discharge and there were a variety of demonstrations, including of X-rays.

On 16 August a special congregation was held in Elder Hall, attended by the Prime Minister, Stanley Bruce, and Governor of South Australia Sir Tom Bridges. Events concluded with the University ball.

The University’s Centenary, held in 1974, which some of our alumni will remember, was similarly celebrated with concerts, exhibitions, a commemorative medallion, a book, cultural nights and lectures by a number of visiting professors. The Centenary Appeal raised $1.2 million by the end of 1974. Efforts to create a stamp to celebrate the event were, sadly, not supported by the Postmaster- General, and an approach by the manufacturers of Kleenex tissues to create commemorative tissue packs was declined.

The events began in March that year when Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, proposed a toast to the University at the First Centenary Banquet. In August 1974, the Vice-Chancellor Professor G.M. Badger was quoted in Lumen as saying: “The University has now been celebrating its Centenary for six months, and this should, I think, entitle us to some sort of mention in The Guinness Book of Records.

Celebrations ended with a final banquet held at Chrysler Ltd in Tonsley Park at which the Vice-Chancellor stated: “This Banquet is the last event; and the Response to the Toast to the University is the last speech. It was therefore with particular pleasure that I suggested myself for this honour, because, as Vice- Chancellor, one does not often have the opportunity to have the last word.”

Tagged in 150th, Lumen Autumn 2024