1960-1975: Chemistry expands and is joined by new departments of Parasitology, Biochemistry and Microbiology
1960s pressures and 1970s growth...
- In 1960, UQ conducted a survey on student accommodation. It found that most students were living at home with parents, and the next biggest group was in private hostels. Over 25% of all students had moved house in the previous 12 months, and the biggest problem was travel time to uni (closely followed by the high cost of housing & lack of private study space).
- During the 1960s, there was a wide expectation that baby boomers born shortly after World War II would be entering university. There was widespread concern that there would not be enough places for them in tertiary institutions.
- In the 1960s, the student body occassionally interupted graduations at Brisbane City Hall by voicing their concerns. Protests grew during the Vietnam and Bjelke-Petersen years from the late 60s through the 70s.
- In 1970, the university teaching year was reorganised into two 14-week semesters, replacing three trimesters.
- In 1974, tuition fees were abolished, thanks to the Whitlam Government, but full-time students still had to pay $70 per year in student services fees. Enrolments ballooned in fhe following years. 1974 also saw the full semesterisation of courses.
Photo: Union for Civil Liberties Demonstration, 1967 (Fryer Library, UQ, Graham Garner Collection, F3400)
- In 1960, the Queen awarded a CBE to TGH Jones.
- In July 1962, Senate approved a 2nd Chair in Chemistry.
- In the years from 1960 to 1965, the lecturing staff of the Department of Chemistry more than doubled to 23.
- The Department of Chemistry bought its first nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer (a Varian A-60) in1962 ad a Varian V-4502 electron spin resonance spectrometer in 1963.
- In 1964, seventy members formed the University of Queensland Chemical Society to provide a forum for scientific discussions and to generally promote interest in chemistry through the university. They had international guest speakers.
On 14 July 1965, his 70th birthday, TGH Jones retired. He had been working for UQ since the age of 19. At this time, the department was characterised by three discrete, informal sub-sections:
- physical chemistry, lead by Prof Lyons
- organic chemistry, lead by Prof Lahey
- inorganic chemistry, lead by Prof Plowman
- First year chemistry courses were composed in equal proportions of these three fields, with different instructors and independently formulated curricula.
- The number of new academic appointments to the Department of Chemistry swelled during the 1960s. The pace of development at UQ between 1960 and 1965 was described by the then Vice Chancellor as "phenomenal".
- One of the most important pieces of equipment to be acquired in the 1960s was a Philips EM 300 electron microscope in 1966.
- An independent and autonomous Department of Parasitology came into being in 1960 with Professor John Sprent as Head.
- Over the next 30 years, the Department grew as a strong, separate discipline with recognized strengths in medical, marine and veterinary parasitology.
- JFR Sprent received multiple awards in 1961 & 1962 (American Society of Parasitologists’ Henry Baldwin Award, Appointment as a fellow of the New York Academy of Science and Joint winner of the Payne Exhibition of UniMelb).
- The Department of Biochemistry was created in December 1961.
- The Biochemistry Building was completed in the second half of 1961 with Edwin Webb appointed as Foundation Professor of Biochemistry and Head of Department in August 1962.
- By 1965, there were eight academic staff and minutes of the staff meetings indicate that key concerns were the acquisition of new equipment, the allocation of technical staff support to the academic staff, and development of the currciculum. Arrangements for departmental tea and biscuits also occupied discussion time in more than one meeting and led to the establishment of a Tea Committee!
- In 1966 it was proposed that tutors be paid $4 per hour.
- In 1967, UQ's Biochemistry Department won more funding from the Australian Research Grants Committee than any other Australian university biochemstry department, by a factor of almost two. Around this time, Dr Zerner won a prestigious US National Institutes of Health grant for his work on the mechanism of action of hydrolytic enzymes.
- Successive professorial appointments established or consolidated various sub-disciplines within Biochemistry, notably enzymology, medical biochemistry, plant biochemistry, and molecular biology.
- In 1962 Vic B. D. Skerman was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science and appointed as Foundation Professor of Microbiology.
- In 1964 it was decided that a building for the Department of Microbiology be erected to the rear of the then Biochemistry Building at St Lucia, but it would be another eight years until this eventuated.
- A notable equipment acquisition in 1966 was a Philips EM 300 electron microscope.
- Staffing during the 1960s and 1970s remained relatively stable, with a number of promotions and international collaborations reflecting the high standard of research activities.
- By 1972, when the department moved to the St Lucia campus, 84 students had graduated wth Honours, 24 with Masters degrees and 12 with PhDs.
- The new Microbiology Building at St Lucia was affected by construction funding cuts, and although it consolidated a widely dispersed staff, was barely big enough to accommodate the then staff and research students. Skerman noted that leaks in the roof, a dominant feature of life at the Herston Medical School, were supplanted by floods in the basement of a building which was never officially opened!
- The World Data Center for Microorganisms was established by UNESCO/UNEP at UQ in 1974 and was responsible for production of successive editions of the World Directory of Collections of Cultures of Microorganisms. Dr (later Emeritus Professor) Lindsay Sly was curator of the collection for many years.
Photo: the Biochemistry Building (later renamed the John Hines Building) in 1964
|Sources:||A Place of Light and Learning: The University of Queensland's First Seventy-Five Years, by Malcolm I Thomis, 1985.|
|History of the Department of Microbiology, by V.B.D. Skerman, published in a departmental booklet to commemorate the 75th anniversary of UQ, 1985.|
|Editions of the UQ Staff News, 1960-1965.|