University of Newcastle Library Guides

Names and places:  McMullin Building

A guide to the origin of the names and places associated with the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Names and places : Buildings

Sir Alister McMullin

Sir Alister McMullin

The McMullin Building

Sir Alister McMullin was appointed to the Council and elected first Chancellor by the Council in July 1966, the year that the University moved to its new location at Shortland. He was continuously re-elected until ill-health forced him to resign in 1977.

Born in 1900, a grazier from St Aubins, Scone, where he lived for most of his life, Sir Alister played an active role in public life serving on the Shire Council, the Pasture Protection Board and the Scone Hospital Board. During the Second World War he served in the R.A.A.F. in northern Australia. After an active career in local government he entered the Senate as Senator for New South Wales in 1951 and was elected Senate President in 1953. He served a record term of 18 years as President of the Senate and devoted much time to parliamentary matters.

He was closely associated with the planning and development of the National Library of Australia, holding office as Chairman of the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services, Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library Committee and Deputy Chairman of the Council of the National Library of Australia. He was also involved in the preparation of plans for the new Parliament House in Canberra as Chairman of a special Parliamentary Joint Select Committee.

Sir Alister was a representative for the Parliament, and an emissary for Australia, at many conferences, anniversaries, independence ceremonies and openings of parliaments overseas from 1955 to 1966. He held office on the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and was chairman in 1959 and 1960. Events which caused him to travel to represent the Australian Government included the funeral of President Kennedy in Washington in 1963 and the presentation of the President's Chair to the Malaysian Senate in 1965. In 1957 the Queen conferred upon him the honour of K.C.M.G.

As Chancellor of the University of Newcastle he showed a great and personal interest in the work and development of the University. Admitted to an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters in 1966, he officated at the openings of new buildings and conferring of degree ceremonies, including those for the conferring of honorary degrees. Over his ten years he awarded more than 4,500 degrees to new graduates. He was also of great assistance to the Vice-Chancellor and members of the Senior Administrative staff.

He presided over meetings of the University Council until 1977 when poor health first prevented him attending. His firm but invariably courteus chairmanship, tempered with a sympathetic understanding will long be remembered. In recogntion of his outstanding contribution to the development of the University in its formative years, Convocation dedicated to him the Fanfare and Processional Music it had commissioned to mark the first quarter century of the provision of university level education in the Hunter Valley. This work, composed by noted Australian composer Nigel Butterley was performed for the first time at the 1977 graduation ceremonies. He died in August 1984.

The Gazette, Vol. 1 No.1 Oct 1966 p.1
The Gazette, Vol.11 No.1 May 1978 pp.3-4
The Gazette and Letter to Graduates, Volume No.16 Dec 1984 p.14 (Obituary)

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