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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29


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TThe University of Otago was founded in 1869 by an ordinance of the Provincial Council with the intent "to promote sound learning in the Province of Otago." It was formed into a "body politic and corporate" with, the power o granting degrees in Arts, Medicine, and Law, and received as an endowment a hundred thousand acres of pastoral land. It was opened in 1871 with a staff of three Professors, all in the Faculty of Arts. In 1872 the Provincial Council voted to the University a further endowment of another hundred thousand acres of pastoral land. This important accession to its revenues, with the aid of some subordinate sources of income, enabled the University to make considerable additions to the staff of Professors and Lecturers in the Faculty of Arts, to establish a lectureship in Law, and to lay the foundations of a Medical School.

In 1874 an agreement was made between the University of New Zealand and the University of Otago, by which the functions of the former were restricted to the examination of candidates for matriculation, for scholarships, and for degrees; while the latter bound itself to become affiliated to the University of New Zealand, to hold in abeyance its power of granting degrees, and to waive the claim which it and advanced to a Royal Charter. As a result of the agreement thus effected, the University of Otago became possessed of ten thousand acres of land, which had been set apart for University purposes in the former province of Southland.

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In addition to the endowments which have been referred to, the University receives the benefit of certain educational funds held in trust by the Presbyterian Church of Otago, and which by law are required to be applied to the endowment of Professorships in the Faculty of Arts. One of the Professorships originally instituted—that of Mental Science—was endowed from this source, and it has lately been intimated to the University Council that the funds are now in a position to support another Chair. The University, however, is entirely unconnected with any religious denomination; it contains no faculty of theology, its instruction is purely secular, and it is restrained by its constitution from imposing any religious tests upon its professors, lecturers, or students.

The supreme governing body of the University is the Council, the members of which hold office for life. In terms of the ordinance, the right of filling up vacancies in the Council was vested in the Superintendent of the Province, but by reason of recent political changes it has now devolved upon the Governor. The Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor are elected by the members of the Council out of their own body, and hold their offices for three years. The Council appoints the Professors and Lecturers, manages the finances of the institution, and attends to all its external relations. The conduct of the educational arrangements of the University is committed to the Professorial Board, which consists of all the Professors and those Lecturers who have been appointed members of it by the Council.

The University contains a Faculty of Arts, a School of Medicine, and a School of Law. The courses of lectures in the Faculty of Arts prepare for the preliminary examinations in Medicine and in Law, for the professional examinations page 7 of Schoolmasters, and for Degrees, Senior Scholarships, and Honours in the University of New Zealand. The Medical School provides lectures in Chemistry, Biology, and Anatomy by the Professors of these branches, and also clinical lectures in Medicine and Surgery. It is the intention of the Council, as soon as the advancement of the students renders it necessary, to establish additional lectureships, so as to offer a complete course in Medicine qualifying for Medical Degrees in the University of New Zealand. The arrangements already made cover the first two years of the medical curriculum. Several of the Professors and Lecturers have already been recognised by the medical authorities at Home, so that attendance upon their lectures will count as attendance upon lectures on the same subjects in the Home Schools, and the recognition of the others is expected to be received within a few months. Students of Medicine will thus have the privilege of attending classes here for two years, and then, if they desire it, of proceeding to complete their course and to graduate at one of the medical schools of the United. Kingdom. The lectures in Law prepare for the professional examinations before the Judges of the Supreme Court, and, in conjunction with the classes in the Faculty of Arts, for the L.L.B. degree of the University of New Zealand.

The establishment of a School of Mines in the University has on several occasions been under the consideration of the Council. It is believed that such a school would be of great public utility, and that it could be conducted with economy and advantage in connection with the Museum, the Chemical Laboratory, and the Science classes in the Arts curriculum. The want of funds for the endowment of a professorship of the technical branches has hitherto prevented the carrying of this scheme into effect; but at one page 8 time when, during the last session of the Provincial Council, funds were voted which would have been available for the payment of the salary of the Professor of Mining, the difficulty seemed in a fair way to be surmounted. In consequence, however, of the uncertainty which existed as to whether the subsidy would be continued, it was considered imprudent to take at that time any definite action, and it is not known whether the Colonial Government is disposed to give assistance in organising the school.

The University building, though handsome and spacious as well as centrally situated, is not in all respects perfectly suitable for the accommodation of the classes, and it would not admit of their rapid extension. The erection of a new building has therefore been determined upon, and with this view, a site, containing about eight acres has been secured adjacent to the Hospital and to the new Museum. The building will contain the most ample class-room and general accommodation; and a noticeable feature in the plan will be the establishment in connection with all the Science classes of Laboratories, which will be conveniently furnished and fully equipped with scientific instruments. The building will also include chambers for the use of those students who may wish to obtain such accommodation.

The University Library, founded mainly by public subscriptions, already contains more than four thousand volumes, which for the most part have been specially selected by the Professors for the use of the students. All students attending the University, whether matriculated or not, are entitled to the free use of the Library, and it is also open as a Library of Reference to the general public, who must, however, provide themselves with cards of admission by application to the Registrar. The Library is under the page 9 direction of a Committee, composed of three members of the Council and three members of the Professorial Board.

The Chemical Laboratory in the University, which has been conveniently fitted up, is under the charge of the Professor of Chemistry. Its main aim is the training of students in chemical manipulation and in inorganic and organic analysis; but on grounds of public convenience it has been opened as a Public Analytical Laboratory. In this capacity it is largely made use of for the analysis of ores, minerals, soils, fabrics, and foods; and these analyses are frequently taken part in, or performed under supervision, by the more advanced students. The Laboratory is open for instruction from May to November, and for analysis during the whole year.

The Professor of Natural Science in the University is also Curator of the Museum. The handsome new building erected for the Museum is now approaching completion, and is expected to be ready for the reception of the collections before the commencement of the ensuing session. Besides the large hall, with its two tiers of galleries intended for the public exhibition of the objects, and the work-rooms for the Curator, the Curator's Assistant, and the Taxidermist, it contains a lecture-room, a library and reading-room, a biological laboratory, and two other rooms where researches may be carried on by candidates for honours and by other students in special departments of Natural Science. The Museum Library contains nearly a thousand volumes of valuable works on Natural History, and it is supplied by mail with all the principal scientific periodicals. The purpose of making the Museum an educational institution, rather than a collection for display, has also been carefully kept in view in the selection, the classification, and the arrangement of the objects. The collection of New Zealand plants and animals in the page 10 Museum is now nearly complete, while the foreign collection contains types of nearly all the principal families, and is constantly receiving important additions.

The clinical lectures in connection with the Medical School will be given in the Dunedin Hospital, which is the largest in New Zealand. The Hospital building is not only commodious but of ample extent, and, with the out-buildings and grounds, occupies a self-contained block of live acres in a central, but open and airy, situation. It contains 198 beds, and the average number of in-door patients is 170. Of these, about 100 are under medical, and about 70 under surgical treatment, and both in medicine and in surgery the variety of cases occurring is amply sufficient for the purposes of efficient instruction.

The Scholarships of the New Zealand University are tenable by students attending the University of Otago, and, in addition to these, two other scholarships specially connected with the latter institution have been established. These are the Richardson Scholarship of the value of £40 a year, and the Scott Scholarship of the value of £20 a year. Both are awarded by competition, and may be held for a period of three years. Public notice is given of any vacancy in these scholarships occurring, and intending candidates may be informed of the conditions of competition by application to the Registrar of the University.