Memories of lectures in the “huts” at UNSW flowed freely at the reunion of the first graduating classes of the Law School on 7 March.
Alumni who had graduated in the founding years of 1975, 1976, 1977 or 1978 were joined by former and current staff for a 40th reunion dinner in the newly revamped Roundhouse at UNSW.
The night began with a tour of the Law building led by UNSW Law Society volunteers before guests were ushered into the Roundhouse.
Bathed in purple light, the 160 guests were welcomed by Dean of UNSW Law Professor George Williams AC, who outlined many of the significant initiatives the Faculty is leading, and how they line up with the original vision for the Law faculty when it was founded in 1971.
Professor Williams also highlighted the importance to the Law School of connecting to its first graduating years ahead of the faculty’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
Professor Richard Chisholm AM, one of the founders of the Law School, stepped in for the Founding Dean, Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten, and spoke eloquently on the vision for the fledgling faculty and for those early students.
UNSW Chancellor David Gonski AC spoke of his time as a Law student and fondly recalled being taught in the “huts” on campus or, if the weather was good, under the shade of a nearby tree.
Professor Rosalind Dixon rounded out the speeches with an address about the Grand Challenge on Inequality.
There was a sombre note when the gathering remembered Professor Garth Nettheim, who died in February. Nettheim had been invited by Hal Wootten to teach at UNSW’s new Law School in 1971 and went on to serve twice as Dean. He was remembered as one of Australia’s pre-eminent legal scholars and activists, renowned for his work advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and for the way he transformed the teaching of law at university.
Formalities over, guests were free to swap memories, enjoy the archival images on show and make the most of the photo booth – one of the most popular features of the night.