After the Conference

The Easter Conference of 1948 and associated meetings did not change the principles the Interim Council had already determined at its meetings: that the role of the university was to engage in research and in the training of research workers, that no undergraduate teaching would be considered and certainly not until the four research schools were firmly established, and that, except in special circumstances, there would be no vocational training. The Conference ensured that the chief stakeholders in the wider university and administrative community participated in and acknowledged these intentions.

The John Curtin School of Medical Research was the first to be developed in terms of staffing and then in the construction of its building. Prime Minister Ben Chifley laid the foundation stone in 1949 and Florey opened the building in 1958. In 1950, Professor Mark Oliphant accepted the invitation to head the School of Physics, now called the Research School of Physical Sciences. After much soul searching at the prospect of leaving a rich cultural life, Professor Keith Hancock arrived in 1957 to become Director of the School of Social Sciences. Appointments were made to the School of Pacific Studies in 1949 and Sir John Crawford, one of the attendees at the Easter Conference, was appointed in 1960 as the first Director. Florey and Firth remained in England, but in 1965, Florey, who had established a close and lengthy association with the university’s foundation, was appointed ANU Chancellor.

The proposal to establish University House, a faculty club with accommodation for postgraduate students and single members of staff, was one of the most popular suggestions. The foundation stone was laid in 1949 and by 1952 the distinctive curve of the public rooms was emerging. In 1954 Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, opened University House, the first permanent building on the ANU site.