Celebrating 25 years of Southern Cross University

Who are we at 25 years of age? We are young, with more than a glint of idealism and a hunger for what’s next, one of the world's top 150 young universities . We're also old enough to know ourselves well, where our strengths lie, what our achievements mean. We're not only facing the future, we are embracing the future.

Southern Cross University was always a place of learning, founded firstly as the Lismore Teachers College, then a College of Advanced Education and a member of the University of New England network, before being finally constituted as a university in its own right in 1994. The name of the University symbolises many things – a constellation, a point of reference in the night sky, a motif for independence, rebellion and adventure.

It was a fitting name for a University that was not seeking to emulate institutions of long-standing tradition and sandstone columns, but that sought to carve out its own path of excellence, grounded in academic rigour and unafraid to challenge the status quo.

The successes have been many. The first university in Australia to introduce degrees in subjects like tourism or pedorthics. The first Naturopathy Clinic on a university campus. A small university that could attract record amounts of research funding. More than 64,000 graduates and three campuses. Nine specialist research centres and researchers who are leading their fields, producing knowledge that has impact not just in the regions they serve, but all over the world.

Today we celebrate where we have come from, where we are, and where the next 25 years will take us.

Celebration calendar

5 August - 1 September   25 Artists Exhibition
30 October  25th Anniversary Impact Awards
On the site where the Lismore campus would eventually be built
Director of Planning and Development Fred Goodman and colleagues on the site of what will become Southern Cross University.

Celebrating our rich history

25 artists celebrate 25 years of Southern Cross

A multi-campus exhibition showcasing the work of 25 outstanding Southern Cross alumni.

Kevin and Amanda Franey

First alumni look back on 25 years of success

Amanda Franey remembers studying the rigours of law on a Friday night in downtown Lismore when all her friends were out enjoying themselves.

Isaac Hawkins

25th Anniversary scholar combines twin passions

"Some people struggle to know what they want to do, but knowing what you want and going for it makes the hard work worthwhile".

Founding VC Barry Conyngham with students in 1994

Founding Vice Chancellor inspires at 25th Ceremonial Graduation

Professor Barry Conyngham reflects on the distinctive character of Southern Cross and the University’s next quarter of a century.

Golden anniversary for the Gold Rats

Southern Cross University's iconic rugby team the Gold Rats celebrates fifty years.

Medicinal cannabis

Medicinal cannabis a game changer for chronic pain

Southern Cross University research into medicinal cannabis provides expertise for development of medicinal cannabis products.

Woman dancing in front of solar panels. Image courtesy Woodford Folk Festival

Solar powering music festivals

Southern Cross renewable energy innovation leads the future of power for outdoor entertainment.

Southern Cross music students win coveted national awards

The National Campus Band Competition has launched the music careers of many Southern Cross music students.

Guido van Helten finished mural

Alumni of the Year creates masterpiece on campus building

Internationally recognised artist and Southern Cross graduate Guido van Helten transformed the Gold Coast campus in 2018.

Sports champ leaves lasting University legacy

The annual Darrel Chapman Fun Run honours a Southern Cross pioneer in sport and exercise science.

Ashok Lavasa and cricket game thumbnail

Hitting racism for a six

Southern Cross staff and students take a stance against racism with a cricket match.

The mace

The story of the mace

This integral part of the graduation ceremony is a combination of timbers, precious stones and the creativity of a unique craftsman.
Alyssa Burness

Law and creative writing a powerhouse combination for 25th anniversary scholar

"My goal is to change the world with the things I write, whether it be in a court room or somewhere else".


Take a virtual of Southern Cross University's Lismore campus to experience the facilities and gain a bird's eyes view of what it offers.

A brief timeline of Southern Cross University

1970 Lismore Teachers College established.
1973 Lismore Teachers College becomes Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education.
1989-1993 The first course in tourism at an Australian university established. Contemporary Music, Paralegal Studies, Sports Science and Naturopathy followed shortly afterwards.
1994 Southern Cross University established with campuses in Lismore and Coffs Harbour.
1996 Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics established. Coffs Harbour campus opened at present site with North Coast TAFE. Law school building opened at Lismore.
1998 Naturopathy clinic opened on campus – the first in an Australian university. College of Indigenous Australian Peoples opened in Lismore.
2002 National Marine Science Centre opened at Charlesworth Bay, Coffs Harbour.
2002 Tweed campus opened. Southern Cross was by this stage one of the top three universities in the country for Cooperative Research Centre income.
2008 Planning commences for Gold Coast campus.
2010 Gold Coast campus opened at present site. Southern Cross Geoscience and Southern Cross Plant Science research centres launched in Lismore.
2012 Building B opened at the Gold Coast campus. SCU College established to offer alternative pathways to university.
2013 First engineering students in Lismore. Funding received for major science and engineering precinct at Lismore campus.
2015 Learning Centre Lismore opened. Solar panel ‘sunflower’ developed. 
2016 Professor Adam Shoemaker appointed as Vice Chancellor.
2017 Centre for Organics Research launched at Lismore campus.
2018 Work begins on new Allied Health building in Coffs Harbour. National Centre for Flood Research launched in Lismore. University receives its largest philanthropic donation of $10m from the Blackmore Foundation
2019 University celebrates 25th anniversary. Psychology ranked number one in Australia for Student Experience (QILT data). 25th Ceremonial Graduation.