Two decades after it opened its doors, almost 1000 alumni turned out to celebrate Bond University’s 20th anniversary last month.
Travelling from Western Australia for the festivities, inaugural vice-chancellor Emeritus Professor Don Watts reflected on the challenges of setting up Australia’s first not-for-profit private university.
“We fought hard during those early years to establish the validity of this university and to respond to prejudice within many sections of the Australian community,’’ said Professor Watts, who was vice-chancellor from 1987 to 1990.
From starting out with 322 students in the first semester enrolment in May 1989, Bond University is now edging its way toward 5000 students, with an equitable blend of domestic and international enrolments.
To celebrate, a black tie/ red carpet function was held at Conrad Jupiters Casino on 16 May, with guests swapping stories and reminiscing about historic milestones and hilarious moments since classes started.
Current Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Stable said the 20-year achievement was testament to the dedication of staff, students, alumni and the university’s many supporters.
“Bond University is unique in its approach to tertiary education, but just because something is unique doesn’t mean it will succeed,’’ he said.
“It has become a community within a community. It’s an intimate environment that blends academic excellence, robust ideas, and friendship.’’
In its inaugural semester Bond University offered undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the Faculties of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences, Information Technology and Law.
Since then the university has expanded to include the Health Sciences and Medicine Faculty (2005) the Legal Skills Centre, the Mirvac School of Sustainable Development and the Macquarie Trading Room (2007).
A world-class Multimedia Learning Centre was also opened in 2008. The evolution continues 20 years on, with the university partnering with Marriott International to offer classes in the School of Hotel, Resort and Tourism Management – a high-end managerial degree set within the tourism hub of the Gold Coast.
Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens was a divisional councillor when Bond University launched and remembered the facility’s opening as a turning point for the Gold Coast, especially as there was no other university in the city at that time.
“We said then it would put the Gold Coast on the map internationally and that has proven to be absolutely correct,” he said.
View some of the images from the 20th Anniversary ball.