History of Cairns campus
James Cook University’s Cairns campus opened for teaching on 23 February 1987 offering eight first-year subjects to 117 students in cramped quarters at the TAFE campus.Professor Henry Crowther was the first Rector, until his retirement, due to ill health, in 1989.His successor Professor Philip Courtenay oversaw the campus’ expansion and eventual relocation to the present Smithfield site in June 1995.The campus was officially opened by the then Governor-General Bill Hayden in December of the same year.
By the year 2000 JCU Cairns boasted 3000 students and by 2011 more than 4000 students had enrolled, with 807 subjects taught on campus. A target of 5000 students by 2015 is well on the way to being met.
Several new buildings have been added to the original three, including a new Library, the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance Building and the Dentistry School. The Sir Robert Norman building, which houses the Australian Tropical Herbarium was named for local identity Sir Robert Norman whose considerable efforts, lead to the establishment of the university in Cairns. Work is currently underway on an 80-seat Oral Health clinic, where Dentistry students will treat public patients in a professional setting, a two hundred seat lecture theatre and the iconic Cairns Institute Building which will host researchers for advanced studies and research in the social sciences and humanities.
A week of official celebrations will be held in August, with a chance for Alumni to get together, renew friendships and visit the growing campus.