Newman College (University of Melbourne)

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Newman College
Newman College shield.jpg
University University of Melbourne
Location 887 Swanston St, Parkville, Victoria, Melbourne
Coordinates 37°47′42″S 144°57′49″E / 37.7950°S 144.9636°E / -37.7950; 144.9636Coordinates: 37°47′42″S 144°57′49″E / 37.7950°S 144.9636°E / -37.7950; 144.9636
Motto Luceat Lux Vestra
Motto in English "Let Your Light Shine"
Established 1918
Architect Walter Burley Griffin
Architectural style Art deco
Colours Blue, Green and White
Rector William Uren
Undergraduates 200
Postgraduates 70
Senior tutor 1
Tutors 50
Dining room façade, a Burley Griffin design
Newman College Chapel, University of Melbourne
The Mannix wing faces Swanston Street.
Interior of the Dining Room

Newman College is a Roman Catholic, co-educational residential college affiliated with the University of Melbourne. During the university year it houses about 200 undergraduate students and about 90 postgraduate students and tutors. The college was named after Cardinal John Henry Newman, a former Anglican and major figure in the Oxford Movement who became a Roman Catholic in the 19th century. The College continues to commemorate the life of Newman through events such as the "Cardinal Newman Dinner" and the prominent positioning of his portrait in the dining hall. Although most strongly affiliated with the University of Melbourne, a small number of undergraduate students attend RMIT University or Monash University Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences located on Royal Parade. For a short time, the college also accepted a small number of students from the Australian Catholic University.

The collegiate system spawned from the secular nature of the university, as each of the major Christian churches were given land to the north of the main campus to establish institutions in which to teach religion. The college motto is Luceat Lux Vestra, translating from Latin as "Let Your Light Shine".

At its opening the administration of the college was entrusted to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who continue its administration to the present day. As of 2014, the rector of the College is Father Bill Uren SJ, a former chaplain and Rector (1987–1990) of Newman. He replaced the Very Reverend Peter L'Estrange SJ, who held the position from 1991, before moving to Campion Hall, Oxford.

Student life[edit]

Students' club[edit]

All undergraduate members of Newman College are accepted into the Newman College Students' Club (NCSC), a self-governing incorporated organisation which runs day-to-day and special events in the college. An executive committee (the general committee) is elected annually. The president, treasurer and functions representative are elected directly to their positions. The president then allocates various portfolios to the elected members of the general committee. The portfolios include vice-president, secretary, community service, culture and male and female sports.

Co-curricular activities[edit]

The college places a strong emphasis on participation in co-curricular activities, with music, sport and the dramatic arts playing a large role in life at Newman. The 2011 college production was A Chorus of Disapproval by Alan Ayckbourn. Inter-collegiate soirées are held many times throughout the year, showcasing the talents of the students, with the Very Reverend Peter L'Estrange SJ Prize awarded at the end of the year to the best performing artist in college. The Very Reverend Michael Scott SJ Prize is the annual art competition and the college is a strong participant in all inter-college sporting endeavours, especially in football, netball, softball and tennis.

Newman students also have a strong sporting culture, having won more than half of the intercollegiate football premierships ever played. In 2011 the college won the men's hockey, football and basketball inter-collegiate premierships.

Daniel Mannix Memorial Lecture[edit]

The Archbishop Daniel Mannix Memorial Lecture started in 1977 and is a highlight of both the university and college academic calendar. It was named in honour of the third Archbishop of Melbounrne, who was a driving force behind the formation of the college and for improving the opportunities of Catholic students. It has been delivered in the past by such prominent people as the Rt Hon. Malcolm Fraser, the Hon. Kim Beazley, the Hon. Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Patrick Dodson, Ita Buttrose, Sir Gustav Nossal, the Hon. Alexander Downer, Manning Clark and the Hon. Justice Alastair Nicholson. In 2011 it was delivered by Christine Nixon.

Formal dinners[edit]

Formal dinners are held at 6.30 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the academic year. Attendance is not mandatory, however all members of the college must wear an academic gown and international standard business attire. There are ample occasions during the academic year with a black tie or morning dress code, including the Students' Club, Valete and Commencement dinners. At formal dinners, traditional formalities are observed. Students enter the hall and stand in place prior to the arrival of the members of high table - the Rector, members of the Senior Common Room and other invited guests - who process in, and after the bell has been sounded, grace is then said. It is considered discourteous to leave the hall before the final grace. Formal dinner are followed by Students' Club meetings in the coffee lounge adjacent to the dining room.


All members of the college administration, as well as tutors, academics in residence and postgraduate students (and some older undergraduate students), comprise the Senior Common Room (SCR). Like the Junior Common Room, the SCR annually elect a president, secretary and treasurer, among other portfolios, to organise several events throughout the year. The SCR is responsible for the organisation of the Michael Scott Art Prize and the Newman Tracts Publication.

Public seminars[edit]

The college hosts regular Irish studies seminars which are open to the public and which allow scholars the opportunity to present their findings on a wide range of topics.


The original set of buildings were built during 1916 to 1918 and were designed by renowned architect Walter Burley Griffin and are considered to be some of his best work.[citation needed] Burley Griffin also designed furniture for the college, including distinctive chairs, tables and bookshelves for the dining room and the original bedrooms of the college. Much of this furniture remains in day to day use at the college, but some of it has found its way into various art galleries and private collections.[1] This was recognised by its inclusion on the Australian National Heritage List on 21 September 2005, citing "one of the best examples of Griffin’s architecture in Australia" and "Newman College is significant as an outstanding expression of Griffin’s architectural style".[2] The stonework is currently receiving substantial renovation to repair over 80 years of damage through exposure and natural degradation of the original stone, under the guidance of Andronas Conservation Architecture and received the Australian Institute of Architects (Victorian Chapter) Heritage Architecture Award 2010.

Allan and Maria Myers Academic Centre[edit]

The Allan and Maria Myers Academic Centre is a modern facility shared by St Mary’s College and Newman College. It offers a program of public events and its library contains several special collections that are available to researchers.[3]

The centre houses the Newman College Irish collection (O'Donnell Collection), which was formed in 1924 with a bequest to the college. It originally consisted of around 700 books and 300 pamphlets, many in the Irish language, which were the personal library of Nicholas O’Donnell, a Melbourne Irish language scholar of the early 20th century. Around half the collection consists of historical works. The rest deals with language, literature, biography, religion, politics, description and travel, with some works on music and a few on education.

Every year an O'Donnell Fellowship is bestowed on a visiting scholar so that she or he may do research in the O'Donnell Collection.


The college council, chaired by the Archbishop of Melbourne, oversees the governance of the college. Members include the rector, the other three diocesan bishops of Victoria (of the Sandhurst, Ballarat and Sale dioceses), college alumni and members of the university. Members are appointed by the archbishop. Each year the rector selects two students to be members as student representatives. The president of the students' club is an observer who reports to the council on the life of the college.

Everyday maintenance of the college is overseen by the rector, the provost and the deputy provost/dean. For the 2014 academic year these positions are held by:

  • Rector: The Very Reverend William Uren SJ AO
  • Provost: Sean Burke
  • Deputy Provost and Dean: Guglielmo Gottoli

The college chaplain, business manager and services manager are also integral members of the college administration.


Dome of Newman College
  • The Very Rev. James O'Dwyer SJ (1918–1919)
  • The Very Rev. Albert Power SJ (1919–1923)
  • The Very Rev. Jeremiah Murphy SJ (1923–1954)
  • The Very Rev. Philip Gleeson SJ (1954–1961)
  • The Very Rev. Michael Scott SJ (1961–1968)
  • The Very Rev. Gerald Daly SJ (1968–1977)
  • The Very Rev. Brian Fleming SJ (1977–1986)
  • The Very Rev. William Uren SJ (1987–1990)
  • The Very Rev. Peter L'Estrange SJ (1991–2005)
  • The Very Rev. William Uren SJ (2006–present)

Colleges and Alms in the Antipodes [4][edit]

A certain note of fear of the outside world resonates with every message to the students of Newman College, which has been accommodating Catholics from the University of Melbourne since 1918. The Rector is much like a governor general, a titular head who booms with a tender hearted authority that lacks bite. He allows the main administrative thrust to come from his White African general, Sean Burke, whose face seems cragged with pain. Father Bill Uren SJ is a hulk of a man who portends to be wise, tired by what he has seen. Wisdom comes to us all, though it can kill us.

The ethos of the college, like that of others in its vein, is infantilism. The narrow mind is the good mind, despite the college motto, Luceat lux vestra, which would suggest an interest in making their students ‘shine’. To grow at all is to grow old. To grow old, and then to die. Wisdom may come to those who go outside the college, but it is deemed dangerous. It is better to conduct oneself well in a regulated environment, within walls, albeit crumbling and in desperate repair. This is not even a version of J. M. Barrie’s Pan story, in which adventure is unrestrained, joyful in being unbridled. Here, the restraints on student life are kept on more firmly than chastity belts. Drink is sin, and, given the moral arithmetic of Burke, responsible for something like 70 percent of the college’s problems. The road to success is definitely not excess.

The Jesuit priests are hoping to stay the effects of time. They choose, instead, to deal with the timeless, discussing the pathway of sainthood that awaits their posthumously embraced guardian Cardinal John Henry Newman. Despite being dead since 1890, the Cardinal, or at least his spirit, has been at work to cure the sick. Literally. Miracle investigators in the Vatican assure these mighty denizens of pseudo-establishment in Australia that sainthood is not far off. They await the next miracle. Will it happen within the walls of a college bearing his name?

This college hopes that money will be secured, not so much from donors, but the State, to hold up its heritage buildings which are in need of repair. The excuse no doubt is that Walter Burley Griffin, Canberra’s architect, built much of them. Money has already been secured from Victoria’s coffers. Yet the Jesuits want more, asking for millions in a country that has had troubles, at least at the administrative level, acknowledging a separation of church and state. Should public money be directed at these institutions, which are designed to create an obscurantist and sham pseudo-elite? This ersatz Oxbridge structure, far from producing an enlightened cadre, is doing the reverse. The ‘SCR’ or Senior Common Room is little better than an Oxbridge MCR (or Middle Common Room) run by self-congratulatory cultists who have the occasional glass of wine. Common it might be, but senior it’s not.

Newman College is Sunday school for older students, for the undeveloped, for those who fear the dangers that age bring. Age comes with its joys and its pains, but both are excluded by this administration with fanaticism and fastidiousness. This miniature theocracy is a fairly numb place, and like all theocracies, dulls the mind. Ritual, not personality, counts. Humour is circumscribed to the point of being insufferable. When one is happy with tedious meetings that merely praise the lord, restraint and a distinct lack of sex, we are truly at the end of human existence, or at least one that counts.

Begging is deeply natural to such places, and it is a streak shared with all colleges the world over based on the Oxbridge model. But the effect of pouring alms, for heritage or otherwise, into an institution which should have more private donors than hot dinners seems to be the problem of Australia’s entire college structure within the ‘sandstone’ universities. The public purse is sought to buffer and salvage what the servants of God or the private sector won’t do themselves. If they don’t, it is barely acceptable to expect the public purse to do the same. [5]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable alumni of the college include:


External links[edit]