First graduating class of 1970 celebrates 50 years
First Graduation Ceremony


First graduating class of 1970 celebrates 50 years

February 17, 2020

The first group of Macquarie graduates, the Class of 1969, graduated on Saturday 21 March in 1970. There were 152 graduates in March, and a further 39 graduates in a second ceremony later in the year. The University’s first two doctorates were conferred on Harold George Cogger and Joan Elizabeth Kirkby. 

The University received its first undergraduates in February 1967. On the 31st May 1967 the University held its first major ceremony in the E7 Courtyard, “a ceremony to mark the beginning of teaching in the University”.

The letter to the first graduands from the University’s first Registrar – AJT Ford (Arthur John Templeton Ford) is dated 16th February 1970.
First Grad Letter

The letter to graduands included instructions on arrival time, (no later than 9.30am), admission tickets (3 per person) and academic dress guidelines (“it is usual for women to wear a white frock with white gloves, while men wear a dark suit and a dark tie”).

First Grad TicketFirst Grad ticket map

Graduation took place in the E7B courtyard, the exact same place where graduation ceremonies take place today. The presiding officer was the first Chancellor Sir Garfield Barwick.

Professor John Croucher AM graduated on that sunny Saturday morning, accompanied by his mother (in white below) and sister Linda (in red below).

John Croucher 1970Croucher 3 1970 correct

Carmelo (Charles) Fogliani AM recalls that it was “an exciting day”.  He graduated that day with an Masters of Science honours degree. He is pictured below with the late Professor Blue Barclay (one of the founding professors of the University, who set up the Chemistry School) and Dr Barry Batts (one of his supervisors); and Carmelo is with his wife Maria (Mary) in the second photograph.   After the graduation he took up a position as lecturer at Mitchell College of Advanced Education, which in 1989 became one of the campuses of Charles Sturt University. He retired in 2006 from the position of Associate Professor Head of the School of Public Health.

Charles Fogliani Professor Blue Barclay  and Dr Barry BattsCarmelo Fogliiani AM and wife first graduation

“It was an exciting time with a small group of students doing the honours Masters degree in Science majoring in Chemical Education”, says Carmelo. “We used to meet up with the lecturers on Saturday mornings”.

Ric Daniel, founder of the Macquarie Mountaineering Society, also graduated that day. “Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of my 1970 graduation day. Dad took a couple, but they were blurred and may have been discarded as I haven’t seen them for quite some time.

Dr Brian Spencer (BA 1970, BA Hons 1972, DUniv(HonorisCausa) 2004), former Registrar and Vice-Principal at Macquarie, was also one of the first graduands.  As one of Macquarie’s longest serving staff members of 42 years, he has fond memories of Macquarie.

“I remember clearly being one of the graduands on 21 March 1970”, says Brian. “A member of the University Council, Sir Walter Scott (grandfather of Mark Scott, the present Secretary of the NSW Department of Education) said to me on that day ‘Brian, being one of the first is a unique experience which can never be taken away from you!’”

He is pictured below receiving the congratulations of the Chancellor Sir Garfield Barwick, and seated left in the front row, with a group of graduands waiting their turn.

Brian Spencer graduatingBrian Spencer grads

Roger King was another graduate from the 1969 cohort who recalls, “Since I was overseas at the time and did not attend, I do not have any personal pictures. My parents attended but I think the only picture they showed me on return was from a newspaper.”

The below photograph of the procession features the then Chancellor of Macquarie University Sir Garfield Barwick AK GCMG QC (22 June 1903 – 13 July 1997) – he was Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia at this time and is directly behind the staff bearer in the picture. Also featured are The Honourable J.C. Maddison, Minister of Justice; His Eminence Cardinal Sir Norman Gilroy, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney (the first Australian-born cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Australian of the Year in 1970); Alderman W. Harrison, Mayor, Municipality of Ryde; Mr NTW Allan, Commissioner of Police; Major-General MF Brogan, CB, CBE, GOC Eastern Command, Victoria Barracks; and the then Registrar AJT Ford MC.


In his address, Chancellor Sir Garfield Barwick urged the new graduates to remain part of the University community:

“As graduates of this University I would expect of you at least two things, one that you will feel one with the community and not as superior beings apart from it and, two, that you will maintain a continuing interest in the acquisition of knowledge.”

He also pointed out what we now know, 50 years on, to be true, that the University’s reputation is built on the success of its graduates.

“You are the first graduates of this young University. It has yet to make its reputation. Already it is well known and well regarded. But its reputation will depend upon several factors of which the standing of its staff in world terms is most important. Another is the performance of its graduates, whether in places of learning elsewhere, or in employment here or abroad. I think it may be a little unfair to make the point that, for some time, until the graduates are more numerous, the burden of making this University’s reputation must weigh heavily on you, its first graduates. But, if unfair, as it may be – let me allow myself the luxury of saying it to you.  I hope many of you will return to further study in the University, if not immediately, still in the not-too-distant future. I know some of you are already minded to do so. But in any case, as members of Convocation as you now are as graduates, I trust you will maintain your interest in an your contact with this University. By your continued interest in – and, as you prosper, to your support of – the University you will participate in maintaining the continuity of its scholarly teaching.”

Although Macquarie University was formally established in 1964 with the passage of the Macquarie University Act 1964 by the New South Wales parliament, it wasn’t until the 6 March 1967 that it officially opened its doors for business, with its first lecture. The Golden Jubilee Symposium marked the event in March 2017.

Download a copy of the original program  First Ceremony for the Conferring of Degrees
Download a copy of First Graduation – Chancellor’s Address
Download a copy of the original First Graduation Ceremony Letter to Graduands
Read about Ric Daniel’s account of the Macquarie Mountaineering Society’s early years.

Materials sourced from graduates and the Macquarie University Archives
Words by Jackie Gent

Comments (4)

  1. Joanne Blissenden

    I was excited to see this article celebrating 50 years since the first graduation. I have the exact original graduation booklet, address and tickets belonging to my dear Dad who passed away in 2012. He was 40 years old with a young family, working as a Maths Master at Normanhurst Boys High (followed by a career in academia lecturing in Mathematics) and completing his Master of Science part-time. Francis William Morgan is listed as a Master of Science graduate in the School of Mathematics and Physics.This was a wonderful achievement,

    Since Dad’s graduation on 21st March 1970, I graduated for Macquarie on 6th May 1987 with a Bachelor of Economics.

    Once again on 14th April 2016, my son, Frank’s grandson graduated, Thomas William Blissenden graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce with the Bachelor of Laws with honours.

    We are fortunate to have had three generations graduate from Macquarie and look forward to future possibilities…….

    Thanks again I enjoyed the article.

    Joanne Blissenden

  2. Kathleen Warren

    While I was not in the group that graduated in 1970 I was a member of the first intake in 1967 but being part time took longer to complete my degree. A years after my graduation I joined the staff of the School of Education as a tutor (later senior tutor) . I moved from Macquarie to a lecturing position at a CAE but a few years later when tertiary institutions were amalgamating I returned to Macquarie as a lecturer ( then senior lecturer) in the newly established School Early Childhood where I remained until my retirement having completed an MA(hons) and later the degree Doctor of Education. Later stil I was appointed to the Macquarie University Governing Council
    I have many warm memories of my connection with the university!

  3. Hal Cogger

    Having been there, I found this feature brought back many pleasant memories of my time at Macquarie and the joys of working in those early biology labs.. However I’m a wee bit miffed at being written out of the story of the University’s first graduation ceremony in March 1970. I recollect that I was one of the University’s first and only two PhDs awarded at that ceremony, and, through an alphabetical accident, I was also the first to have my degree conferred by the Chancellor. I certainly don’t claim any precedence over Dr Kirby, but in any historical account of that first ceremony I would have hoped that my doctorate, as one of only two conferred on the day, might rate a statistical mention! C’est la vie.

    1. Jackie Gent Post author

      Dear Dr Cogger

      We have updated the story to reflect this and are grateful to you for pointing it out.

      Many thanks
      Alumni Relations


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