In December 1970 the Queensland Education Minister, Sir Alan Fletcher, approached the distinguished newspaper editor Sir Theodor Bray with the task of creating a new university. The brief was deceptively simple - to offer an alternative university experience to that already available in Queensland and other parts of Australia.
The State Government of the time had just one other requirement, that the new university be named after Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, a former Queensland Premier, Chief Justice of Queensland and the Chief Justice of Australia. A parcel of land at Nathan (10 kilometres south of central Brisbane) was formally named Griffith University in the Queensland Parliament on 21 September 1971.
The newly established Griffith Council developed a philosophy, not only to provide specialised academic courses but also to emphasise the general educational development of students. Central to this was the creation of theme-oriented schools. These schools were multi disciplinary with groups of disparate scholars integrating their research and teaching in problem-solving units.
The first Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Willett, was appointed in November 1971. The university opened its doors in 1975 to 451 students in four schools: Australian Environmental Studies, Humanities, Modern Asian Studies and Science. From these small but enthusiastic beginnings, Griffith University has grown to its present size and status with an enviable national and international reputation. No institution can remain static and Griffith has been fortunate that the seeds planted by the University's founders have been nurtured and tended by its Chancellors, Sir Theodor Bray, Sir Alan Sewell, Chief Justice John Macrossan and now Ms Leneen Forde.
The introduction of a national unified system for tertiary education in 1988 resulted in the Mt Gravatt campus of Brisbane College of Advanced Education, the Gold Coast College of Advanced Education, the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and the Queensland College of Art all becoming part of Griffith University.
Consequently, the Brisbane-Gold Coast corridor became Griffith's natural demographic area. Anticipating and planning for the likely higher education needs of this community has been one of the major challenges facing the university in the late 1990's and the construction of the new $38 million campus at Logan City was an early outcome.
Griffith University has not only expanded and matured, but it has also moved beyond the expectations of its founders. In its capacity to continually innovate while adapting to change, it has successfully built on their ideals.
For a more comprehensive history of Griffith, you can read 'Preparing for the future: a history of Griffith University, 1971-1996' online.
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