Marching to the tune of Waltzing Matilda a parade of more than 270 graduating students, academics and community members marked University of Newcastle’s fiftieth anniversary in the city centre on Thursday.
Well-wishers lined Hunter Street waving balloons and flags as the Australian Army Marching Band led the parade to City Hall and into Wheeler Place for a celebration of the partnership between Newcastle city and its university.
Vicechancellor professor Caroline McMillen said it was wonderful to share the occasion with the community who had ‘‘built, fought and argued’’ to establish the university in 1965.
‘‘Thank you to town, thank you to gown,’’ professor McMillen said.
‘‘The colours, the balloons, the flags, that celebration... it was everything that our university stands for.’’
During the 1960s the community rallied behind the university, then a branch of the University of NSW, to become an autonomous institution.
Since its establishment in 1965 the university has increased enrolments from 1700 to 40,000 students.
Cheers erupted as Professor McMillen said Newcastle was ranked the top Australian university under 50 years of age.
It speaks to the community’s commitment, and the university’s leadership over the past 50 years, Professor McMillen said.
Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes paid tribute to all the group work and class presentation during her University of Newcastle days that, ‘‘has finally got me up here, on stage delivering this address’’.
‘‘It is a hugely proud moment for me personally as a graduate of this university to stand here as your lord mayor on this 50th anniversary,’’ Cr Nelmes said.
Graduating medical student Myles Knapman said it was exciting to be a part of the parade.
‘‘It was nice for all of us coming back to see Newcastle made such an effort,’’ said Mr Knapman, who is now working at Wollongong Hospital.
A special graduation ceremony for students completing science, engineering, health and medicine courses at Civic Theatre followed the parade to honour the community’s support of the university.