Fifty years since Macquarie’s first lecture: Former student Professor Croucher remembers

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It’s 1967.

Prime Minister Harold Holt disappears while swimming at Cheviot Beach in Victoria.

Postcodes are introduced throughout Australia.

The average weekly wage is approximately $57 ($740 in today’s dollars).

Everyone is singing Engelbert Humperdinck, The Seekers and The Monkees.

And on 6 March at 9am, Professor Peter Mason delivered the University’s very first lecture. Nearly 80 students attended the physics lecture, Structure and Properties of Matter.

Today, Professor John Croucher from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) has fond memories of being among the first cohort of students at Macquarie. He remembers some definite resourcing challenges in those early days – like trying to undertake Introduction to Computing… but without a computer.

“The lecturer, poor Harry Hancock, used to draw pictures on the blackboard of what a computer looked like if we had one,” he recalls.

John joined the University after reading about it in the newspaper.

“It was sort of a novelty thing. I was saving pennies working overtime… I thought ‘that sounds good.’ Every student there felt the pioneering spirit, that we were the first. We had no idea whether we would get a job [at the end of a degree] because employers didn’t know anything about the University. We were going up against established universities. It was a leap of faith.”

Like Macquarie, John has come a long way. Prior to becoming a MGSM Professor in 2004, he was a Professor of Statistics (1998-2003) and has four PhDs including an honorary doctorate from Papau New Guinea. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015 and has authored 30 books. In 2013, he received the Prime Minister’s award for the Australian University Teacher of the Year.

Looking ahead, John doesn’t try to guess what the future holds for the University.

“Who knows?” he says. “When we started (50 years ago), there were no calculators, no colour TV’s, no mobile phones, no internet and no one had computers. Everything has led to where we are now, and where we are going is sure to be very exciting.”


What memories do you have from the last 50 years at Macquarie? Share in the comments below.

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