DOUG CHAPMAN was one of five full-time students who enrolled in the university’s first year in 1952.
Amenities consisted of a common room, engineering library and canteen.
“I was the only student in civil engineering so some of my lectures just involved the lecturer and myself,” Mr Chapman says.
“Sometimes we did courses with part-time students who were converting from a diploma to a degree.”
It wasn’t until 1953 when the University of New England established an arts faculty at the campus that student numbers began to grow.
Among the characters on campus was the arts lecturer Cyril Renwick, who taught humanities subjects to budding engineers.
“He was a great bloke,” Mr Chapman says.
“He was trying to make us more human. Engineers tend to see a goal and want to get it done.”
The seeds of the university’s proud sports culture were also sown in those early years.
The basketball team, the university’s first sports team, was established in 1953.
A hockey team, tennis club and rugby team soon followed.
“In 1955 we actually had a very risque event when the men’s rugby team played the female students in the park across the road from the old Cross Keys Hotel in Tighes Hill,” Mr Chapman says.
Although he had graduated long before the Callaghan campus was established, Mr Chapman says he takes enormous pride that he was one of the university’s first students.
“You only need to see the advances that are being made in medical science and engineering, each of which has always been highly regarded in Australia,” he says.
“The university is an integral part of Newcastle and we all should be justifiably proud of it.”