Key 17: 'Visitations' 1871; 1879; 1884


Although the provisions set out by the Act constituting the powers and authority of the various governing bodies of the University seemed to leave little scope for unresolvable disputes, it did prove necessary to call upon the dispute-resolution function of the official 'Visitor' (and head of the University hierarchy, a role devolving on the colonial Governor from the British model), on three occasions in the nineteenth century. Both the Professorial Board and the Senate invoked this aid in the hope that the Council might be over-ruled.

The Governor's appointment of Justice Molesworth as his Assessor in the 1884 Visitation.
[Source: University of Melbourne Archives, University of Melbourne Visitor, Accession No: 102.23]

On the first occasion in 1871 the Governor of the colony, Viscount Canterbury, after the taking of voluminous evidence, upheld the Councilís right to limit the Universities from which a candidate for professor could be selected, to insist that he not be in holy orders, and that he should be prohibited from earning fees above his stipend. Nevertheless the Council did not attempt to limit the eligibility of Universities again. On the second occasion in 1879 the Marquess of Normanby adjudicated on the relatively trivial matter under dispute without actually 'visiting' but in 1884 his ceremonial visit aroused considerable pubic attention and he upheld the Senate's contention that the Council ought not have changed the regulations affecting prizes, exhibitions and scholarships in the middle of an academic year.

The Visitation in 1884
[Source: Ernest Scott, A history of the University of Melbourner, MUP, 1936, opposite p. 92]