Former Governor-General the Honourable Bill Hayden AC will visit James Cook University in Cairns this Thursday (6 December).
Mr Hayden will officially open Founders Green, which honours the vision and efforts of community members who made the establishment of JCU’s Cairns campus possible.
As Governor-General, Mr Hayden officially opened the campus on December 6th, 1995.
“The official opening, 17 years ago, was the culmination of a great deal of effort by community leaders. The people of Cairns were both determined and generous in their campaign for a local tertiary education institution,” JCU’s Chancellor, Lt Gen John Grey AC, said.
“When Mr Hayden opened the campus it was just three buildings in the middle of a former cane field,” Lt Gen Grey said.
“We are delighted to welcome Mr and Mrs Hayden back to JCU Cairns, to show them how far we have come in realising the community’s vision, and to open Founders Green in honour of our founding supporters.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said student numbers had quadrupled since JCU moved from the TAFE campus to its own site in Smithfield.
“When Mr Hayden visited the campus on this day in 1995, we had 967 students. Today we have more than 4,000 and are well on our way to meeting a target of 5,000 students by 2015.
“Seventeen years ago we offered nine bachelor degree programs, today there are 87,” Professor Harding said.
“Perhaps most significantly, in 1995 we had just three postgraduate research students. Today we have 187 postgraduate researchers, whose task is to generate new knowledge, new understanding. They are a crucial part of JCU’s mission to build a brighter future for the tropics.”
Mr and Mrs Hayden’s tour of the campus will include the Australian Tropical Herbarium in the Sir Robert Norman Building, the Dentistry School and Dental Clinic, the Mosquito Research Facility, the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance, Library and the Boathouse.
“These are all facilities constructed since Mr Hayden’s visit in 1995, with the Cairns Institute’s new building on track to open next year, and planning underway for the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor and head of the Cairns campus, Dr Stephen Weller, said.
Lt Gen Grey said those who campaigned for a university in Cairns, and had donated and raised funds for the purchase of the site, had built a university whose impact reached beyond Cairns and the far north.
“Thanks to their vision, we now have researchers in Cairns at work on issues of importance to our region, and the tropics world-wide,” he said.
Founders Green lies between two of the original buildings on campus, one of which has been extended with the construction of a new lecture theatre.
“This is an area every student on campus will use during their time on campus,” Dr Weller said.
“It’s a place to catch up with friends before and after lectures in the three Crowther Theatres.
“It will quickly become an important focus of student life, and a daily reminder of how the people of this region helped build their University.”
The official opening of Founders Green is the final event in JCU’s celebration of 25 years in Cairns.
Issued December 5, 2012
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