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The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1934

A Registrar Looks Back

page 29

A Registrar Looks Back

I have been asked by the Editor of The Spike to write a short article for the 1934 number giving my impression of the changes that have taken place in the College during the nineteen years that I have acted as Registrar. It was only after considerable hesitation that I accepted, as I could not see that I was qualified to write anything that would be likely to interest the readers of The Spike.

As all students are well aware, a Registrar is an objectionable functionary who carries out with gusto the unpleasant duty of collecting fees from impecunious students. It is true that he can give an account of the material changes that have occurred, but such matters as bequests, additions to buildings and additions to staff, are they not written in the pages of the College Calendar? Representations to this effect were made to the Editor, but he proved to be obstinate and insisted that some account of these matters would really be of interest. I shall therefore make no further apology for this article, which, after all, no one is obliged to read.

When I came to the College in August, 1915, in succession to Mr. E. T. Norris, who had been appointed Registrar of the University of New Zealand, a post which I am glad to say he still occupies with distinction, the War had been going on for a year, and the number of students on the roll had dropped to 383. There had been a steady growth in numbers up to 1912 when 547 students were in attendance, but for some reason a drop occurred in 1913 and 1914 when the numbers were only 463 and 377 respectively. The drain on the enrolment of students caused by enlistments during the War period kept the numbers down during the War years, but in 1919 534 students attended, in 1920, 680, and in 1921, 757. A small but steady increase followed, and in 1932 820 students attended. The removal of the Training College in 1933 caused a serious drop in numbers, only 670 students attending during that year. I am glad to say that this year, largely owing to the institution of classes in Accountancy, the numbers have again increased, the roll number being 780.

These figures show that the College has more than doubled in size since my appointment. Let us hope that it has increased in wisdom as well as in stature.

In 1915 the College was the recipient of two splendid bequests, each of £10,000. Under the will of Mrs. S. A. Rhodes this sum was left for the education of women. The Council, after consulting the Trustees of the Estate, decided to establish Scholarships from this fund. Two types of Scholarships were instituted, viz., Travelling Scholarships of £250 tenable for two years for students to study abroad, and New Zealand Scholarships, tenable at the Home Science School at Dunedin at the value of £125. A full account of these Scholarships would be too lengthy for an article such as this. However, in 1930 a change was made in the regulations which now provide for a Sarah Anne Rhodes Fellow in Home Science. The appointment of Miss Violet Macmillan to this Fellowship followed, and Miss Macmillan has since been engaged in Home Science work throughout the Victoria University College District. She was established at Massey College, Palmerston North being a more convenient centre than Wellington, and has now for two years carried on a most successful campaign throughout the country districts.

The second benefaction in 1915 was made by the Trustees of the late T. G. Macarthy for the establishment of the Macarthy Chair of Economics. The money did not all come in at once but was paid over in instalments, the final payment being made in 1923. In 1920 the Council decided to call for applications for the Chair of Economics, and Professor B. E. Murphy was appointed.

In 1923 Sir Walter Buchanan made a donation of £10,000 for the purpose of founding a Chair of Agriculture and the Government subsidised this sum £ for £. Professor G. S. Peren was appointed and remained with us for four years.

In 1928 the Council joined forces with the Auckland Council and with the consent of the Government, it was decided to pool the agricultural endowments of the two institutions to form one central Agricultural College at Palmerston North. By this wise step Massey College was founded. Professor Peren became Director and Professor page 30 Riddet of Auckland was made Professor of Dairying. Our Council has two representatives on the Massey Council.

In 1926 the College Council received its most splendid bequest, the sum of nearly £80,000 being bequeathed under the will of the late William Weir, for the erection of a Hostel for men students and for its maintenance. Note—Only half this sum was to be for buildings, the other half to remain with the Public Trustee who was to pay the Council the interest on it for maintenance and general purposes.

There had for years been a crying need for an institution such as this, and the Council immediately set about preparing for the erection of a hostel, although nearly three years elapsed before the money was available. The will provided for other large bequests to be paid out of revenue, and it was only when these were fully paid that the capital sum could be released. Plans had been prepared for the erection of a building to the value of about £60,000, but the arrival of the slump found the Government unable to pay the statutory subsidy. This forced the Council to cancel the contract with the builders, to abandon the foundations of the Dining Hall Block on which several thousand pounds had been already spent, and to arrange for a dining room, kitchen and maids' quarters in the main building. The Hostel was completed by the end of 1932, and was opened by His Excellency the Governor-General on March 6th, 1933.

The first Warden was Dr. I. A. Henning, but on his leaving New Zealand in May, 1933, Dr. I. L. G. Sutherland was appointed and is now in charge. Good wine needs no bush, and the quality of the accommodation at Weir House is sufficiently indicated by the fact that by the end of the year the House was full, and has remained so since with a waiting list ready to fill up all casual vacancies.

Probably no event that has occurred during the last twenty years can compare with this in its effect on the corporate life of the College.

Accommodation is provided for about 90 students. Recently the Council has erected temporary quarters for the maids on one portion of the dining hall foundations, and a fine recreation room with a billiard table on another portion.

Other benefactions of importance that have been made are—The Lissie Rathbone Scholarship Bequest (£3,000) in 1925; the Sir Robert Stout Scholarship and the Lady Stout Bursary donations (£200 and £50) in 1927; the James Macintosh Scholarship Bequest in 1930, and the Emily Lilias Johnston Bequest in 1931. In 1933 we received the first of three payments of $5,000 for the Library from the Carnegie Trustees.

Many splendid donations of books for the Library have been received, notably those from Sir Robert Stout, Mr. W. J. McEldowney and Mr. R. F. Blair.

The chief additions to the College Buildings during the period under review are the Library Wing finished in 1921, and the Physics Wing finished in 1922. Finance for both these fine additions was provided by the Government.

The Library Wing deserves more than passing notice. Besides a fine library chamber there is accommodation in the basement for a Women's Common Room, a cafeteria and Women's Cloak Room, and on the first floor for two large class rooms. The actual space for library books, though large, will soon prove insufficient owing to the large number of books being purchased under the Carnegie Grants, and the Council will soon be faced with the necessity for providing additional library accommodation.

The Library has for its main north light the fine Memorial Window designed by Mr. F. V. Ellis, now on the staff of the Technical College. A brass tablet underneath contains the names of 145 students or ex-students who fell during the War, while the names of all those who served, numbering 472, are inscribed on tablets placed on the two pillars supporting the main arch in front of the window.

The Library also contains the portraits of Sir Robert Stout, generally considered as the Founder of the College, and those of the four Foundation Professors, these last having been presented to the College this year by past students.

The presentation ceremony in the Library was one of the most impressive occasions in our College History. This is referred to at length elsewhere in this issue.

The Women's Common Room contains a number of fine paintings by New Zealand artists. These were purchased by the trustees of the late page 31 Mrs. Marjorie Hannah who left the sum of £200 to be expended for this purpose.

There have not been very many changes in the Professorial staff during my tenure of office. Five professors besides Professor Peren have resigned. In 1919 Professor Easterfield was appointed Director of the Cawthron Institute and his place as Professor of Chemistry was filled by the appointment of Professor P. W. Robertson, a graduate of the College, and the second New Zealand Rhodes Scholar. In 1922 Professor Marsden relinquished the Chair of Physics to be appointed Assistant Director of Education, and later to be made Head of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. His place was filled by the appointment of Professor D. C. H. Florance, a Canterbury College graduate who had occupied the Chair of Physics at Hongkong. In 1926 Professor Tennant resigned the Chair of Education and was succeeded by Professor W. H. Gould, then Principal of the Wellington Training College. In 1929 Professor J. M. E. Garrow resigned the Chair of English and New Zealand Law. Professor H. H. Cornish, his successor, has now also resigned and the Council has not yet filled his place. In 1920 Professor B. E. Murphy was appointed to the new Chair of Economics (the T. G. Macarthy Chair).

In January last all friends of the College were shocked to hear of the sudden death of. Professor D. M. Y. Sommerville who had filled the Chair of Mathematics since 1915. His great ability and charming personality had endeared him to colleagues and students alike and his loss will long be felt.

This brings my imperfect record up to date. The above facts show that during the last nineteen years the College has achieved much and can confidently look forward to greater achievements in the future.

G. G. S. Robison, Registrar.