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Recreating an iconic Southern Cross photo 30 years on… new students, new courses, same purpose

A large group of students and the Vice-Chancellor sitting on concrete steps facing the camera


18 March 2024

In 1994, Vice-Chancellor of a newly founded Southern Cross University, Emeritus Professor Barry Conyngham AM, posed for a news photograph with commencing students at the Lismore Orientation. 30 years later, our current Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Tyrone Carlin, sat on the same steps outside the Whitebrook Theatre with commencing students at Orientation Week 2024.

A group of people sit on tiered concrete steps looking at the camera
The original photo with our first Vice-Chancellor Professor Barry Conyngham. He is seated outside the Whitebrook theatre with students at the 1994 Orientation week. Credit: The Northern Star

Placing the photos side by side, the changes to the University are not that evident. However, a zoom out shows just how much the University has grown over the last 30 years.

What does Southern Cross University look like in 2024? Let’s look at the numbers:

3 main campuses at Lismore, Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast.

3 metropolitan campuses at Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

4 The Hotel School campuses in partnership with Mulpha Australia in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Hayman Island.

1 National Marine Science Centre at Charlesworth Bay, Coffs Harbour.

78,000+ graduates.

17,000+ students.

110+ courses on offer in 2024.

Group of people on tiered seating looking at camera
The iconic shot reproduced in 2024 with Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin and the commencing students of 2024 at the Northern Rivers campus.

Southern Cross University has carved its own innovative path in Australia’s tertiary education sector. The University was the first to introduce Bachelor degrees in tourism and regenerative agriculture, the first to establish a naturopathy clinic on an Australian university campus, and last year completed the roll out of the revolutionary teaching model – the Southern Cross Model – across all disciplines, leading to a dramatic increase in student success.

Today, the University is ranked in the global Top 200 Young Universities (Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2023) and global top 660 in the QS World University Rankings (2024).

Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Tyrone Carlin, said Southern Cross University has had much to celebrate over the past three decades.

"As I sat with the commencing class of 2024 to capture an image reminiscent of the one taken at the point of our foundation, I felt a sense of profound privilege to be a part of the Southern Cross University story.

"In both images, the sense of excitement and anticipation amongst the students is so clear – as it is the sense of community for which we are renowned.

"Of course, I could not help but look carefully at our foundation Vice-Chancellor, Professor Conyngham in the original 1994 image.  He strikes me as being simultaneously very pleased to be with the students 'in the moment', but with a gaze fixed far into the future.

"In the intervening years, the University has evolved to a considerable extent – but the common thread of our purpose has been, and will remain, a constant." he said.

Read more about Orientation in 2024

Media contact

Lee Adendorff, Head of Content at Southern Cross University +61 429 661 349 or