by Deirdre Russell-Bowie

I have been working at MCAE / MIHE / UWSM / UWS for over 30 years now. The main change I have seen since starting work here in 1980 when it was called Milperra College of Advanced Education is the size of the institution. In the early 1980s all the staff and students knew each other by name and the staff had morning and afternoon tea as well as lunch all together every day. We would have had less than 1000 students on campus and now we have over 36,000 students across six UWS campuses. Another major change was in technology. In the 1980s academics each had access to a secretary who typed up anything they required on their electric typewriters! It was very exciting when the introduction of the golf ball typewriters as these could change fonts AND white out a mistake without the need for Tippex! In the mid-1980s our forward looking Dean bought some Apple Macintosh computers and this revolutionised the way we created documents and resources for the students. Despite only having 512k hard disk memory these original computers worked very well!


by Robyn Hardina (nee Hayes)

The first intake of students at the Milperra College of Advanced Education was in July 1975 of which I was one of the foundation members. The only course available was a Diploma in Education. Our first introduction to tertiary education was in a very old abandoned primary classrooms at Milperra as the building was not finished for our intake. If my memory is correct our science class had a tutorial outside under the trees. Being part of the Christian Fellowship we were used to meeting under the trees which we enjoyed. When the main building was completed we thought my its canary yellow. Our course was pretty tough and it separated the sheep from the goats. During the first year many sheep left. Looking forward to catching up with past students of my year and others. Hopefully these 35 years have been kind to us all in our teaching careers.

by Kevin Warrington

Around 1986 or 1987 before we moved Student Administration to Campbelltown, I was Academic registrar of Macarthur Institute of Higher Education
The annual open day was held on a Saturday and we were lucky enough to have Premier Neville Wran as our official guest.
We were told by the Premiers office that his official car would arrive at 1.00pm and come to the Principals (Dr David Barr) front door. The entire Executive was standing out the front of Dr Barr’s office when all of a sudden the Premier walked up behind us and asked something like “are you expecting me”?.
You see Premier Wran had been there before and instructed his drive to park around the back and totally surprised and embarrassed us all by coming through the back of the building totally unannounced. But the day turned out well any way.

by John Fletcher

Chris Sterling was the head of the Music Department – a lady who had a wonderful sense of humour with a sharp and firm mind in achieving what she wanted. During the early stages of construction of the main building Chris submitted her needs for music recital rooms; all was noted to be included in the design. When the building reached lock up stage and the interior sections were well established an inspection of the recital rooms had Chris steaming into Bob Waugh’s office the Properties Manager “Not Happy! The acoustics are terrible, the walls transmit sound, they don’t absorb sound” Bob explains budget cuts had to be made and required the wall materials to be downgraded. Chris, still not happy, instigated a request for egg cartons to be collected. She made it known that the purpose was to have them glued to the recital room walls to improve the acoustics and deaden the instrument sounds. Quite a collection of egg cartons were received and Chris was stacking them up in her lobby. Bob had to give in and he found funds to upgrade the room materials to an acceptable compromise with Chris. Most of the staff were disappointed as they wanted Chris to enforce her bluff or was she bluffing? Bob wasn’t game to call her on it!

by John Fletcher

David Baker was one of the original lectures who worked in the Visual Arts Department under David Harris. Mr Baker was a jovial person and did not let problems worry him, in some administrators eyes he was slack. He owned a Fiat 500; (commonly known as the Fiat Bambino) the car was his mode of transport, a very small car for one who was above average in size and weight. The car was also not very reliable mainly because of David’s attitude towards preventative maintenance. One day it stopped never to go again and it was left within college grounds about where the oval is today. Weeks turned months no action taken to requests to move it. Work started on the oval a front end loader moved it to one side during construction; more requests were ignored for its removal. A final ultimatum was issued move or it will be buried, David said “good saves me the trouble”. Now today the original Fiat 500 is worth a bit of money as it’s a collectable classic car. So if you’re keen there is a classic car buried under one of the mounds that landscape the back entrance to the main building. That’s assuming they are still there I have not been on the Milperra Campus for a number of years and I’m not up to date on building and ground changes.

by John Fletcher

Ken Gee the college secretary rang on a Thursday afternoon “John I want you to purchase me a fax machine and I want it supplied and installed in my office by tomorrow.” So I checked out which machines were available on government contract and made a few phone calls, explaining the conditions of supply. Canon Australia was able to guarantee supply and installation before knock off time the next day and did so. I was pleased that all went well and Ken Gee was happy. On Monday morning my phone rang about two minutes after Ken arrived at work, the fax machine was not working and he demanded a service person to come and have it fixed or replace it by that morning. A phone call to the Canon sales representative, the request was not an easy one but he said he will see what could be done and call me back. Ten minutes later the call came in “good news John we have a service technician on his way to Liverpool and I have arranged for him to call in on his way”. About an hour later he arrived I escorted him to Ken’s office and within two minutes the machine was fixed. A cleaner had pulled the power cord out of its socket when vacuuming his office early in the morning and did not replace it. Red faced Ken offered the technician early morning tea and cake. All future calls from the Principals Unit for equipment maintenance, the power to the machine was check before a service a call was made and cleaners were advised from that day to replace any power cords after cleaning activities.

by Des Crawley

I was the academic staff representative on the foundation council of the Milperra CAE. We were gathered together as a ‘special’ group for the formal opening of the college in the new building. It was and had been raining for days. The country was awash – floods in Milperra and surrounding suburbs. The premier flew into the campus via helicopter and said conveyance landed on oval. As staff representative I had the critical task (and booby prize) of heading out into the rain to give Neville Wran an umbrella. I met him at the back of what was the central quadrangle and the then mound of buried dreams. His first words to me ( I was dressed in academic gown and full of self importance) were, “I need a piss!”. I took him to the staff toilet and so added further to the delayed opening as the guest of honour relieved himself. Ever since I have always thought it a good plan when required to make a decision to go and do a premier! It helps focus the mind. Ha!