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Names and places:  Godfrey Tanner Bar

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Godfrey Tanner

Emeritus Professor Godfrey Tanner

1927 - 2002

The Tanner Bar

Emeritus Professor Ronald Godfrey Tanner was the foundation Professor of Classics at the University. The following is an extract from his obituary on the Godfrey Tanner Society website.

Emeritus Professor Godfrey Tanner
Curriculum Vitae Summary

  • Born, Ronald Godfrey Tanner, on 24th September 1927 in Brisbane.
  • 1945 Matriculated from Melbourne Grammar School
  • 1946 – 48 University of Melbourne Undergraduate
  • April 1949 Graduated BA. Honours Class I in Classics.
  • 1949 Tutor in Department of Classics – Part-time
  • 1950 Full-time
  • April 1950 Graduated MA Honours Class I: Thesis subject “Ancient ideas of the economic function of the city”.
  • 1950 – 2 Wyselaskie, Aitchison & Myer Scholar of University of Melbourne
  • 1950 – 2 Jebb Scholar of University of Cambridge
  • July 1952 Graduated from Clare College with lst Class Honours in Classical Tripos Part II.
  • Nov 1952 – Dec 1955 Lecturer in Classics, University of Melbourne.
  • Taught Sanskrit as an Honours option, 1954
  • 1956 Sanskrit research with Professors N.B. Jopson and Sir Harold Bailey.
  • Jan 1957 – Dec 1959 Senior Classics Master at The King’s School, Parramatta.
  • Feb 1960 – Dec 1962 Senior Lecturer in Charge of Classics, Newcastle.
  • Jan 1963 – Aug 1964 Associate Professor of Classics, Newcastle.
  • Sep 1964 – Feb 1993 Foundation Professor of Latin and Head of Classics Department
  • Newcastle University College and University of Newcastle.
  • Jan 1967 – Jan 1968 Commonwealth Fellow of St. John’s College Cambridge.
  • Jan – July 1973  Dean
  • Jan 1979 – Jan 1981  Faculty of Arts
  • Jan 1984 – Jan 1986
  • 1987 Visiting Professor, University of Southampton, Lent Term
  • 1984 – 2002 FIEC Delegate
  • 1992 – 1995 President, ASCS
  • Feb 1993 Emeritus Professor of Classics
  • April 1994 Honorary Doctor of the University

Research and Publications: Plato, Aristotle, Stoic Philosophy, Greek Tragedy, early Latin Verse, Roman Comedy, Seneca, Martial, Tacitus, and the Church Fathers. After retirement he continued with work on the Byzantine and Sanskrit areas concentrating on the Vedas, the Upanishads and Kalidasa.

University and Community Involvement

When Godfrey Tanner came to Newcastle, he joined James Auchmuty and Brin Newton-John in the endeavour to create a traditional University here in the Hunter.

He was committed to the sporting life of the University. He founded the University Boat Club at Raymond Terrace largely with a legacy from a deceased great aunt. He was Patron of the Rugby League, Surfriding and Rowing Clubs, Vice-President of the University Rugby Club, a Member of the Venerable Gentlemen Cricket Team, was President of the Sports Union (1970 – 1974) and Vice-President of AUSA. For his service to sport he was awarded Life Membership of the Sports Union.

His commitment to student life was equally remarkable. He set up debating and Union Nights and helped organize the 1965 Universities Drama Festival. He was a member of the Union Board of Management (1975- 88), Trustee (1981-89) and Patron 1990 onwards. The new bar in the Shortland Union Building was affectionately named the Godfrey Tanner Bar in 1992 and he was awarded Life Membership of the Union.

He was Patron of the Engineering Fraternity and enjoyed close relationships with the Faculty of Engineering who later provided him with an office after official retirement.

His commitment to community life is reflected in his involvement in the Hill Residents’ Action Group, his membership of the Newcastle Club and his role with the Church as well as a variety of other activities. An active Anglican Churchman, he was for a number of years, between 1963 and 1988, a member of the Newcastle Diocesan Council and served on the General Synod Doctrine Commission for three years in the 1970’s.

He was an elected Member of University Council under the old Act, 1984-88 and was re-elected in 1999 under the 1989 Act as Convocation Member of University Council for a term which was due to expire later this year.

He was honoured with the title of Professor Emeritus (1993) and Hon. Doctor of the University (1994). In 1996 he was awarded Distinguished Membership of Convocation and some months later was elected Deputy Warden of Convocation; a term he held for two consecutive years. From 1997 he was an ambassador of alumni development for the University, regularly attending events. In 1999, the Brisbane Alumni Committee established an Alumni Medal in his name. He hosted the inaugural Alumni Gathering at the Athenaeum Club in London in 2000.

Godfrey’s commitment to students and his discipline is reflected in the fact that he continued to teach Sanskrit and help students right up until his death on Wednesday July 10, 2002.



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