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50 years of teacher training celebrated in Lismore


Karin von Behrens
26 February 2020
group of students
Class of 1970 Lismore Teachers College

Last weekend marked 50 years since teacher training first began in Lismore, providing the foundation for the multi-campus, academically diverse institution that is Southern Cross University today. A reunion at the Lismore campus welcomed staff and students from five decades of teacher education.

Lismore Teachers College began on Monday 23 February 1970 with 151 students. It was primarily a single purpose college.

At the time 20-year-old men were required to register for national service, students intending to marry had to notify the Principal in writing, and everyone was required to write on the chalk board with their right hand - regardless of whether this came naturally or not.

This rule was particularly well remembered by a number of attendees at the reunion.

Lyn Mitchell, one of the College’s original students said:

“We arrived at the College in 1970 to find no facilities, no tables, chairs, lecterns, books, just some seating in the assembly hall. So, things such as cameras, photocopiers or their equivalent, a functioning library, or any modern facilities just did not exist. Gradually, during the year furniture and books started to arrive, many second-hand and contributed from other schools and colleges.”

This is hard to imagine when you compare it to what is now Southern Cross University’s state-of-the-art, three story, Learning Centre.

The evolution from Teachers College to University has been a journey.

On September 1, 1971 Lismore Teachers College became a College of Advanced Education under the Higher Education Act 1969.

As student numbers increased and demand for a wider range of courses grew, the college was renamed Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education, becoming a multi-disciplinary college within the Ministry of Education in 1973.

Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education later agreed to an association with the University of New England and in 1989 formally became a network member of the newly constituted University of New England.

During 1992, in response to a submission from the Board of Governors of The University of New England, the State and Commonwealth ministers responsible for Higher Education established an Advisory Group to consider the implications of the Board's proposal that the network University of New England be dismantled.

The Advisory Group recommended that a new university be established in the North Coast region of New South Wales as an academically integrated institution incorporating the current UNE network centres at Northern Rivers and Coffs Harbour, with the potential to establish additional sites at other North Coast centres as required. It also proposed that the new university develop under the sponsorship of a major metropolitan university for the first three years, while operating under its own name and Council and awarding its own degrees.

On June 29, 1993, the Commonwealth Minister for Employment, Education and Training and the State Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, announced the outcome of the joint Commonwealth/State review of the future provision of higher education in Northern New South Wales. The announcement included the statement that a new university would be established on the North Coast of New South Wales, which would consist of campuses at Lismore (formerly UNE-Northern Rivers) and Coffs Harbour (formally UNE-Coffs Harbour Centre). It was subsequently announced that the new institution would be called Southern Cross University. Appropriate legislation was passed by both houses of the New South Wales Parliament in October 1993, and received the Royal Assent on November 9, 1993.

Southern Cross University was established January 1, 1994.

Last weekend’s reunion was organised by a former lecturer with the School Of Education, Dr Neville Jennings, who worked at the School in the 1990s.

Dr Jennings had assistance to coordinate the event from the Coordinator of Alumni Engagement Angela McCormick and the Manager of Alumni and Giving Triona Maddick, as well as Records Officer from the Corporate Records Unit Fiona White who is also on the History of the University Group committee and School of Education Associate Professor Marilyn Chaseling.