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From Ferranti to Faculty: Information Technology at Monash University, 1960 to 1990

Chapter four

The faculty is born

Sarah Rood

In this chapter the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology is born. It begins with a look at the Department of Computer Science at Monash and the various departments of computing at Chisholm throughout the 1980s. While computing and computer science were without doubt better understood by other schools, faculties and the general public, resource and funding issues remained pressing and feelings of frustration lingered. At the same time, changes in higher education policy, which had severe and extreme implications for Monash and Chisholm and indeed the entire tertiary sector were about to be put forward by the Government. In this chapter higher education policy and the history of computing and computer science at Monash and Chisholm collide to form the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology.

The Good Health of the Department

In early October 1983 Vice-Chancellor Martin sent a memorandum to Professor Westfold, chair of the committee that was established to review the state of computer science at Monash University. Martin had just received a draft version of the review committee’s final report. Martin wrote, ‘may I congratulate you, as chairman, and the members of your Committee on the excellent Report which provides a blue print for the future development of the Department of Computer Science. The good health of the Department now seems assured for the next decade.’1 But what was the impact of the review? Did it, as Martin suggests assure the good health of the department?

A newcomer to Monash University in the late 1980s would have looked around and seen a stable and successful Department of Computer Science. With three professors, course offerings at all undergraduate year levels, honours, masters and PhD students, several focussed research areas as well as dedicated administrative and technical support staff and computing equipment, the department appeared to be thriving. While this impression was at least partially accurate, what the newcomer might not have detected were the years of rapid growth, struggle, debate, compromise and turmoil that lay just below the surface of this seemingly stable exterior.

For the Department of Computer Science, the ground had only just begun to stabilise. The late 1970s and early 1980s were dominated by a lengthy but thorough review of computing and computer science at Monash University. The years of tension that led to the review were a legacy of how this new discipline had emerged at Monash and of the internal politics that are characteristic of large institutions and organisations. The review was sparked by a letter, written by department chair Chris Wallace, in November 1981. But it was several years before the final report complete with recommendations for the future of the department and computer science at Monash was presented to the Vice-Chancellor.

These interim years were tumultuous. In 1982 six academic staff from the Department of Computer Science resigned. Tension between the Department of Computer Science and the Faculty of Science continued to increase. Demand for student places in computer science subjects also continued to climb, adding to the pressure. Students began to express concern that they would not be able to enrol in computer science subjects or carry on with major subject sequences in the discipline.2

Small steps were taken at Faculty of Science and University levels to provide some relief while the review of computer science was underway. Professor Swan, Dean of the Faculty of Science, established the Search and Appointments Committee in 1982 to address the staffing crisis and to help the department recruit replacement academic staff. Small adjustments were made to the faculty budget so that increased equipment funds were available to the Department of Computer Science where possible. Efforts were also made at the faculty level to fund the department at a higher level than stipulated by the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission (CTEC), despite the refusal of the Universities Council to reclassify computer science as a laboratory based discipline.3

The review committee also facilitated a staffing change that would have great impact on the department. When Professor Wallace, Chairman of the Department of Computer Science suffered a heart attack in 1982 the department was left with little in the way of leadership as the only other senior academic had recently resigned. It was at this point that the review committee organised for the secondment of Professor John Crossley, from the Department of Mathematics, to the Department of Computer Science. He became the temporary head of department, providing much needed support for Wallace and the department’s review-weary staff. A Monash staff member since 1969 Crossley was familiar with the structures and relationships that underpinned the University. In addition, thanks to his own academic training and research expertise, Crossley understood the nature of computer science and its resource requirements. He had been agitating for better conditions for computer science since the beginning of the review and his presence in the department was much welcomed.

The environment had slowly begun to change. Small concessions had been made as additional resources were slowly funnelled towards the department. Some of the hostility and tension between the department and other areas of the University had begun to fall away. In Professor Crossley’s secondment the department found an ally – one who could assist the department from within and give voice to its needs.

Despite these small but significant victories, the department held its breath while the review report was finalised. It was difficult to plan for the long term future of the department without knowing the recommendations of the review committee. How would they address the chronic under resourcing of the department? Would there be an increase in the number of permanent staff members? Would the enrolment-capping quotas for computer science subjects be scaled back? Most importantly, was Monash University committed to fostering the development of computer science? On paper, the answer was yes.

The eighteen recommendations of the Westfold Report sent a very clear message to the department, to the Faculty of Science, to the rest of the University and to industry that the Department of Computer Science was a valued part of Monash. Each recommendation fell into one of the following categories: the role of the department, undergraduate programs, student numbers, graduate teaching and research, academic and support staff, equipment, space, and the classification of the discipline. The Westfold Report plotted the growth and development of the adolescent department and at the same time, attempted to clarify how it would relate to other departments and areas of study within Monash.

According to the final report, ‘underlying all the concerns of the staff is the basic issue of whether the Department of Computer Science at Monash is a high-technology discipline. It has become clear to us that Computer Science is a discipline less akin to Mathematics than has been generally appreciated.’4 As Monash had been unsuccessful in lobbying for the reclassification of computer science from a low technology to a high technology discipline, the University had to reallocate resources internally.

It was a difficult task to achieve. All additional resource and funding allocations had to come from within the University – mostly, from within the Faculty of Science. Other departments feared the loss of their own resources as additional funds were redirected to Computer Science.5 While the review report gained in principle support from heads of departments and deans across the University, Vice-Chancellor Martin, Professor Swan and those involved in the implementation of the review were constantly reassuring other departments and looking for ways to reallocate resources. As a result it would take the remainder of the decade to transform the review recommendations from words to reality.

One of the most significant recommendations of the Westfold Report was to increase the number of academic staff in the Department of Computer Science, in particular, to establish a second chair. It was a crucial move. A second, permanent full time professor of computer science would strengthen the leadership of the department and boost its research and teaching profile. Aware of the importance of filling this new academic post and of the length of time it could take to implement the other suggestions contained in the Westfold Report, Professor Swan lifted the proposal from the still unfinished report and presented it to a Committee of Deans meeting in September 1983.

Professor Swan explained to the Committee of Deans that the proposal had his full support and would be part of the soon to be presented Westfold Report. Swan’s articulate and carefully structured proposal foreshadowed the expansion of the department and revealed a glimpse of the sentiments that would be detailed in the report:

The department is entering a time of rapid redevelopment, facing increasing student demand and an increasing elaboration and diversification of its discipline, it must enlarge its staff, reorganise and consolidate its research, and prepare to contribute to other courses requiring components of computer science. The expected size of the department, and the diversity of the discipline, fully justify the establishment of a second chair.6

He appealed to the Committee of Deans to move separately and quickly on this proposal rather than waiting for it to be assessed as part of the Westfold Report ‘so that the proposal can then go to the Science Faculty Board and from there to the Professorial Board and Council before the end of the year’.7 Pending the approval of the proposal, the aim was to make an appointment in the first half of 1984.

The proposal received immediate support from the Committee of Deans. Just over a month later it had been approved by the Professorial Board. The Department of Computer Science would be able to advertise for a second professor early in 1984. It was the first of the review recommendations to be implemented – and it was interestingly set in motion before the formal review report was officially presented.

The advertisement for the chair appeared in newspapers across the country as well as in the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom by January 1984. It referenced the recent review of computer science and stated clearly that this second chair was part of the ‘proposed consequent expansion of the department’.8 Monash was ideally looking for applicants with research interests in data bases or related areas and interested parties were informed that ‘the appointee will serve periodically as chairman of the department’.9 Further enquiries were to be directed to Professor Crossley or Professor Wallace and candidates had until 30 March 1984 to submit their application.

There was a large amount of interest in the new chair in Computer Science. Requests for additional information were received from as far away as Darmstadt, Stanford, Wisconsin and as close by as the University of Melbourne, La Trobe and Deakin.10 A selection committee was appointed by the University Council in April 1984. Buoyed by the positivity surrounding the recommendations of the Westfold Report and the interest expressed in the new chair, it is unlikely that members of the University Council or the selection committee imagined that in 1986 the position would remain unfilled.

In a situation remarkably similar to the advertisement of the first chair of Computer Science in the mid 1960s, this second chair of Computer Science remained vacant for just under two years. After the first closing date in March 1984, a shortlist of five applicants was made. A second meeting of the selection committee reduced the field to four. After a third meeting in August interviews were arranged for the two remaining candidates. By late October 1984, a year after Swan had mustered support for the second chair in Computer Science, an offer was made to an overseas candidate. However, several months later, the candidate declined.11

The selection committee reconvened and decided unanimously to re-advertise the position. Despite the eagerness to fill the position, there was a delay of several months before another advertisement was circulated in July 1985. The closing date was set for 30 September – two full years after the chair was approved. Once again interest in the position was expressed from all over the world. There were twelve applicants in total. Immediately a shortlist of four was determined. Interviews were set for early 1986 and on 3 March the chair in Computer Science was offered to Leslie Michael Goldschlager.

Goldschlager was a Monash University alumnus. An early student of computer science, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science, First Class Honours in 1973. He completed his Master of Science at Monash the following year. From there Goldschlager went to the University of Toronto and three years later, in 1977, completed his Doctor of Philosophy in computer science. The following year, 1978, saw the return of Goldschlager to Australia were he took up the post of lecturer at the University of Queensland and later became a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney.12

In a letter to Vice-Chancellor Martin in mid May 1986, Goldschlager acknowledged the general problems of funding that had been faced by many departments of computer science and praised the support that was being offered to Monash’s department in the Westfold Report. He concluded by commenting that ‘I believe this type of active support from the dean and from the university in general to be essential if we are to build up a high quality Computer Science department. If I am correct that this active support is present at Monash, then I am most happy to accept your offer of the position.’13

The newly appointed Professor Goldschlager came to Monash with a very clear sense of direction for the department. Acutely aware that the Department of Computer Science was a strong and tightly knit group, despite the turmoil and resource issues that plagued its development, Goldschlager sought to focus on further strengthening the research profile of the department.14 Soon finding himself head of department, he slowly began to provide additional support for academics who presented their research developments at conferences or published them in academic journals.

Another of Professor Goldschlager’s aims was to strengthen the links between industry and the department. Impressed by the model he had observed while on sabbatical at Stanford, Goldschlager wanted to foster similar relationships at Monash. All of these ideas and developments worked towards his aim of establishing the Department of Computer Science as the leading computer science research centre in Australia.15

The timing of Goldschlager’s appointment slowed the realisation of these longer term visions. The new professor was immediately consumed by the logistics of review implementation and his more strategic ideas had to be placed on hold while the infrastructure of the department was stabilised. Nevertheless there was a tangibly positive atmosphere. The Department of Computer Science had finally achieved the acknowledgement and recognition it deserved. While aims of being a leading research centre were delayed, there was a feeling that conditions were improving. The task at hand was rebuilding, and some of the excitement that pervaded the earliest days of the department had returned.16

One of the earliest tensions between the Department of Computer Science and the Computer Centre was access to computing equipment. The Computer Centre’s machines serviced the entire University and struggled to meet the additional demands of Computer Science staff and students who needed increased access to machines to carry out their research and teaching activities. Access to computer terminals was so difficult that some Computer Science students hid in the Computer Centre and emerged after staff had gone home so that they could then work through the night.17

The Westfold Report sought to rectify these problems. There were recommendations regarding space, equipment funding and dedicated technical support. They were all crucial to improving and expanding both teaching and research in computer science. The University and the Faculty of Science had limited resources to channel towards the department. To maximise the resources that were able to be shuffled, a focus on three main areas of specialisation for teaching and research was stipulated in the final report: computer design, operating systems and software engineering techniques; information systems, databases and related software engineering techniques; and artificial intelligence and theoretical computer science. A special equipment grant of $176,000 was allocated to the department in 1985 to support the development of these specialty areas.18 This amount was to supplement the department’s annual equipment allowance of $60,000.

Physical space had also been a recurrent issue. In the early 1980s Computer Science occupied the smallest amount of space of all Faculty of Science departments.19 The Westfold Report detailed plans for a two phased relocation of the Department of Computer Science that would augment their current space by over fifty per cent. Plans for a new undergraduate computing laboratory were also underway. It was to be constructed near the department’s new location. Along with the special equipment grant and the new locations, the additional computer facilities would give the Department of Computer Science the physical support it needed to consolidate and expand. At least in the short term.

The space and equipment concessions contained in the report supported the further development of the department’s teaching activity. Most importantly, it meant that the much maligned quotas could begin to be scaled back. A plan was revealed to increase student numbers incrementally by 1987. While some quotas had to be maintained, the intention was to remove quotas on second and third year subjects so that no student who had completed first year computer science would be impeded from further studies in the discipline.20 An increase in the number of students completing second and third year subjects would hopefully attract more students to honours and postgraduate research degrees in computer science, strengthening the department’s research culture and further contributing to the pool of qualified computer science graduates.

Computer Science was a stand alone discipline. However, there were some areas of overlap with other departments like Engineering, Physics and Mathematics. As the applications of computer science became better understood, other disciplines began to see its relevance to their research and teaching. Before the review this overlap was a source of tension and confusion. The Department of Computer Science could barely develop its own courses let alone work with other departments to create courses that related to other disciplines. But after the review, this was to be no longer. Working relationships between Computer Science and other departments internal and external to the Faculty of Science would be developed. In fact, while the review was still underway a syllabus was drafted for a first year subject that was to be taught jointly by the Department of Computer Science and the Faculty of Economics and Politics.21 A precursor of the combined degrees that would be available in the future, these sorts of teaching collaborations continued. In 1984 students could enrol in an honours program in Computer Science and Accounting.22

Additional subjects slowly began to appear in the Computer Science section of the University Handbook. There were new second year subjects, more options at honours level and some of the quotas, as promised, began to disappear. Computer science subject offerings also began to become more streamlined to reduce overlap and maximise resources. By 1989 an entirely revised curriculum and teaching structure was phased in; the first hint of the Bachelor of Computer Science that was introduced a few years later.23

There can be no question that the Westfold Report was a turning point for the Department of Computer Science. The flurry of activity that followed the acceptance of its recommendations was invigorating for the depleted department. However, as the 1980s progressed, it became clear that there were still major issues facing the department. Of these, staffing was one of the most pressing. Section eight of the Westfold Report detailed a plan for increases in academic, general and technical support staff in the department. A table compared the ‘Equivalent Academic Staff (Establishment)’ of 16.8 for 1983 with a projected 21.8 in 1987. In real terms these figures translated to an increase in the number of tutors and senior tutors, lecturers, senior lecturers and of course professors. Four new technical staff members were also recommended in the report along with 1.5 additional general/clerical positions. These new positions would be filled in stages, between 1983 and 1987, so that by the end of the decade, the staffing plan would be well and truly implemented.24

Professors Crossley and Wallace had begun implementing the staffing plan as soon as the review recommendations were accepted. There were countless memorandums to and from Crossley, Swan and later William Muntz (who took over as dean of the Faculty of Science from 1985), Wallace, Westfold, and Martin confirming how funds could be juggled and reallocated and how salary savings from previous years could be transferred to current budgets to cover the new positions.25 But confirming where the resources would come from to support these new positions turned out to be the least challenging part of the process.

In 1985, Professor Muntz was engaged in discussion with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Westfold about the difficulty in filling the newly established positions. Not only was the second professorship yet to be filled, but the department was struggling to appoint a new lecturer or senior lecturer.26 An appropriate candidate was nowhere to be found and to compound matters, the re-advertisement was delayed based on what appeared to be a bureaucratic wrangle.27 Worse news was to follow. An additional lecturer, John Rosenberg, announced his resignation, which would take effect in 1986. It was not until June 1986 that the additional general staff positions were advertised. Even then, only one application was received and no interview took place.28 The department had the positions, but it could not find anyone to appoint.

There were other problems too. As the shine of the Westfold Report began to dull and the one off equipment allowances were absorbed, it became increasingly clear to the department that it could not sustain the growth. Despite the recommendations of the review, the department was still in the same position – desperately in need of staff to support and maintain the expansion in teaching and research that the review implementation had set in motion, and in need of additional equipment funding and technical support. The department was in a stronger position than it had ever been. But it needed additional funds that the University could not supply, to sustain the momentum of these changes, finalise the review implementation, and ensure the department’s continuing development.

In October 1987 Professor Goldschlager wrote to Mal Logan, by then the Vice-Chancellor of the University, and suggested that the Westfold Committee might be reconvened.29 His expression and tone were reminiscent of the correspondence preceding the review of Computer Science in the late 1970s and early 1980s. High student staff ratios, prohibitive student quotas, the poor treatment of the department by the Faculty of Science and a lack of academic staff were once again the topics of discussion. Again, the issues centred on the classification of the discipline and how it was funded at a central university level. Until the University received more money to support computer science, the department was destined to struggle within the Faculty of Science.

Temporary relief looked to have been found in the promise of significant funding from the Victorian Education Foundation (VEF). Goldschlager had applied to the external granting body in August 1988 for additional funding for the department’s activities. In the application Goldschlager discussed the general problem that computer science had in receiving appropriate resources. It was not a new problem. He pointed out the ongoing issue and argued that ‘the only way in which computer science will attract increased internal funding is through the re-allocation of resources from contracting and less popular disciplines, a process which most established departments find unpalatable….Computer Science needs a catalyst by which the status quo may be broken.’30 The funds from the VEF grant, Goldschlager pointed out, would provide the necessary catalyst.

The application was successful. The VEF promised up to $711,800 in funds for the Department of Computer Science.31 It was a huge win for the department. However, there were conditions. The University, or more specifically the Faculty of Science, was required to contribute financially and in kind to ensure that when the VEF funding ended, the department had the support to continue in its development. Despite the fact that the department had been successful in receiving a large amount of external funding, it took five months for the University to decide whether it would accept the funding. This was because Vice-Chancellor Logan and Professor Muntz had once again to shuffle internal funds to make sure that Monash could meet the funding commitments stipulated by the VEF.

As the 1980s drew to a close the Department of Computer Science found that both everything and nothing had changed. It was still chronically under funded and prevented from reaching its maximum research and teaching potential because of a lack of funds. Appropriately qualified academic staff members were still in short supply and it seemed that some cycles simply could not be broken. However, what had changed was the profile of the department. Thanks to the long, drawn out review process, the nature of the discipline was better understood. The difference between computing and computer science had begun to be grasped. The department had unquestionably moved forward in receiving the recognition and understanding it had fought for. Unfortunately until the funding it received at a central university level was increased or the faculty structure changed, the good health of the department in the future was anything but assured.

Change and Expansion

Both Caulfield Institute of Technology and the Department of Electronic Data Processing had changed greatly since their earliest days of existence. But each held fast to the principles that had defined them over the years: the Institute, to providing high quality technical tertiary education; and the department, to producing highly employable computing practitioners. Over the years each had become more complex in structure and more varied in what they offered to students. During the 1980s Caulfield Institute of Technology would once again change as it became part of Chisholm Institute of Technology. The Department of Electronic Data Processing had to make the transition to being part of the new School of Computing and Information Systems and adjust to the additional structural changes that would unfold as the decade progressed.

January 1980 was the beginning of a new era of greater autonomy, higher visibility and hopefully improved resources for computing at Caulfield Institute of Technology. The Department of Electronic Data Processing was moved from the School of Applied Science into the newly established School of Computing and Information Systems. Dr Trevor Pearcey became dean of the new school and Gerry Maynard, a stalwart of computing at Caulfield, was made head of the Department of Electronic Data Processing.

Within a few years of the school’s establishment, a second department was to be created – the Department of Digital Technology and Robotics. The new department was to be interdisciplinary, meaning it would sit across existing departmental boundaries and would involve collaboration with other Caulfield Institute schools and departments. Believed to be unique to tertiary education in Australia, the advance into this field of digital technology and robotics reflected ‘their patently clear importance to the future of Australia’s economy and society in general’.32

The creation of the School of Computing and Information Systems was the result of years of consolidation within the Department of Electronic Data Processing. Under the leadership of Jack White and then Trevor Pearcey the department and its dedicated staff and students demanded a place for the new and evolving discipline of computing within the Institute. The department responded to numerous changes in the Institute’s structure and governance by maximising the teaching it provided and the opportunities it offered its students. For example, in the 1970s, the Victoria Institute of Colleges made course advisory committees compulsory for each course offered at institutes of technology. The Department of Electronic Data Processing ensured that it used these mandatory committees, which were made up of industry representatives, to build stronger connections with industry. Course advisory committees were given as much opportunity as possible to provide feedback on the structure of the department’s courses and the skills of the graduates upon completion. Similarly, lengthy course accreditation and then reaccreditation procedures were approached as opportunities to verify the quality and relevance of the courses to potential students and employers.

The activities of the department in the mid to late 1970s were diverse. There were developments in teaching with several new courses, including the introduction of a degree course – traditionally the domain of universities – as well as the consolidation of existing programs. Course structures were streamlined and common first year subjects were introduced where possible. The organisation of the department also began to change. The simplistic organisation and direct reporting of the 1960s gave way to a tiered structure, once again, more characteristic of a university department. There were senior lecturers, lecturers, tutors and senior tutors as well as technical and support staff. In addition, the Pearcey Computing and Data Processing Bureau was established by the department to meet a different, but highly important community need – professional computing support and training in the form of short courses. The formation of a stand alone school was an important recognition of the department’s achievements and the importance of the discipline. It was the beginning of a new and exciting chapter.

At the beginning of the 1980s Caulfield Institute of Technology comprised six schools: Applied Science, Art and Design, the David Syme Business School, Computing and Information Systems, Engineering, and Social and Behavioural Studies. In 1981, its first year of existence, the School of Computing and Information Systems offered six courses, two of which were new.33 Plans to introduce a second department to the school had also been spurred into action. By 1981 the Department of Robotics and Digital Technology had been created. Staff lists from that year reveal Trevor Pearcey as dean of the School of Computing and Information Systems, Gerry Maynard as head of the Department of Electronic Data Processing as well as deputy dean, and senior lecturer Yow-Lam Oh as the initial staff member of the Department of Robotics and Digital Technology.34

The smooth transition from department to school affirmed the decision to establish a new structure. Enrolments in the school reached a healthy plateau and answered for 12.5 per cent of enrolments at Caulfield Institute.35 Staffing numbers increased and John White and Jack Greig were appointed principal lecturers, a new academic classification between senior lecturer and head of department. An administrative officer dedicated solely to the school was also appointed.36 While the new school developed and the departments adjusted, momentous change was underway in the tertiary technical sector and the wider Caulfield Institute of Technology.

Just two years after the School of Computing and Information Systems was formed, Caulfield Institute of Technology ceased to exist. In its place stood the new Chisholm Institute of Technology. A dramatic, almost apocalyptic story published at the time announced that ‘on 3 March 1982, Chisholm Institute of Technology was created phoenix-like from the material remains of the former Caulfield Institute of Technology and the State College of Victoria at Frankston’.37 What was behind this seemingly sudden creation of the Chisholm Institute of Technology, and what impact did these changes have on the newly established School of Computing and Information Technology and its two departments?

The face of technical education had changed once again. The beginnings of this change occurred at a great distance from the day-to-day running of tertiary technical institutions like Caulfield. And they began several years before Chisholm was created. Higher education in Australia has a long history of advisory councils and commissions. At various stages they have been relied upon to provide recommendations to government regarding the management, structure and resourcing of the tertiary sector. The sequence of events and policy change that created the Chisholm Institute was no different. In 1977 three of these existing federal tertiary advisory bodies were combined to form the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission, or CTEC. This new Commission absorbed the Universities Commission, the Commission on Advanced Education, and the Technical and Further Education Commission.38 The consolidation was a hint of what lay ahead.

The following year, the Post Secondary Education Act 1978 in the Victorian Parliament created the Victorian Post Secondary Education Commission, or VPSEC. It was established to ‘improve, develop, and co-ordinate post secondary education in Victoria’.39 VPSEC was to report to the State Minister for Education on issues relating to tertiary education. But it was also to report to the Federal Minister and the newly established CTEC. VPSEC’s domain was advice on funding and fund distribution as well as the creation of new post-secondary institutions, courses of study, academic awards and the tertiary education needs of the community. It also had directive powers over all Colleges of Advanced Education (CAEs). The Victoria Institute of Colleges which had previously carried out many of these roles and awarded all degrees was replaced by the Victorian Council of Advanced Education.

While the School of Computing and Information Systems busied itself with the introduction of new courses and the creation of a new Department of Robotics and Digital Technology, VPSEC delivered advice to the Minister supporting the amalgamation of colleges of advanced education in Victoria. It recommended that amalgamations were necessary to ‘reduce the overall number of advanced education institutions in the State; to provide for rationalisation of activities between campuses; and to lay the foundation for possible future savings in the costs of administration of this sector.’40

At around the same time the Federal level advisory commission CTEC had drawn attention to decreasing enrolments in teacher education courses. In its guidelines for the period 1982-1984 it proposed ‘a major redirection in teacher education and an increase in the sciences, technologies and business studies’.41 It was proposed that, as part of a process of consolidation, institutions concerned with teacher education be absorbed into multi-purpose colleges of advanced education or integrated into nearby universities.

The State College of Victoria at Frankston was one such institution. Formerly Frankston Teachers’ College, it opened in 1959 to 109 students. In August 1973 it became one of eleven constituent colleges of the State College of Victoria. According to the State College of Victoria Act 1972, the State College’s main function was to coordinate teacher education in the associated colleges and to provide courses in humanities, arts and sciences for students not intending to become teachers.42 As one of these associated institutions Frankston Teachers’ College became the State College of Victoria at Frankston.

The newly re-named teachers’ college continued to grow, with building works and general expansion throughout the 1970s. In addition to its Frankston campus and residential halls, an annexe at Portsea became part of the College in 1968, and there were several associated training schools.43 However the CTEC recommendation regarding the consolidation of teacher education and the VPSEC advice concerning the reduction of the number of colleges of advanced education meant that the College could not remain as it was.

In response to these policy changes, the Caulfield Institute of Technology Council put forward an initiative to VPSEC to take an active role in developing a multi-disciplinary college of advanced education at Frankston.44 VPSEC responded favourably and an advisory committee was established to investigate. Caulfield Institute also offered at this point, early in 1980, to facilitate a limited term merger with the State College of Victoria at Frankston. All appeared to be amicable.

Momentum was gathering. The State College of Victoria Act was to be rescinded at the end of 1980. The Council of the Frankston College proposed that it continue to provide the same services under a new name, the Frankston Institute, but by the beginning of 1981, it was clear that this was not to be the future of the former teachers’ college.45 In May 1981, Alan Hunt, the State Minister for Education, announced that there would be a Caulfield Institute of Technology campus established at the State College of Victoria at Frankston.46 While not altogether unexpected, it was a major announcement. Other amalgamations were announced at the same time. Teachers’ colleges would be phased out within the year as the Colleges of Advanced Education absorbed them and expanded.

The vice-president of the Caulfield Institute of Technology Council responsed that ‘the CIT Council looks forward to working closely with the staff at Frankston and to continue our endeavours to seek adequate funding to meet the opportunities that will arise in the future as a result of this decision’.47 However, plans for the new campus at Frankston stalled almost immediately, followed by months of disagreement. By September 1981 the Caulfield Institute Council called off all negotiations. It was rumoured that the arguments were due to ‘Caulfield treating it as a takeover and Frankston unwilling to be taken over’.48

Despite the objections and conflict it was inevitable that the two institutions would amalgamate. With both Federal and State education policy pointing towards a merger, there seemed to be little alternative. Indeed towards the end of 1981, after meetings between the Minister, VPSEC and the two councils, the amalgamation was once again set to occur. The two existing councils, unable to agree, were dissolved, and an Interim Council was established to manage and govern the new college. It was confirmed that on 1 January 1982 an entirely new college of advanced education would be established.49

Chisholm Institute of Technology was born, replacing the State College of Victoria at Frankston and Caulfield Institute of Technology. At the same time all TAFE courses that had previously been part of Caulfield Institute were transferred to the Holmesglen Institute of TAFE. Hartley Halstead, former Director of the Caulfield Institute, was appointed Acting Director of Chisholm. Tom Kennedy and Graham Trevaskis were chosen as Associate Directors. The structure of Chisholm was essentially the same as it had been at the Caulfield Institute, with the School of Education at Frankston the only addition.

However, the merger of Caulfield and Frankston was anything but a happy union. It resulted in the resignation of Ron Cumming, Director of the Caulfield Institute, and there was much hostility and resistance from staff of both institutions. Halstead urged staff to put their support behind Chisholm and to cooperate with the merger process.50 The decision was not going to be reversed. Schools, like the recently established School of Computing and Information Systems were forced to adjust.

The School of Computing and Information Systems immediately began to adapt to being a part of Chisholm. It was one of the first schools to start teaching at the Frankston campus and did so as early as 1983. Arrangements were also immediately made ‘to link the Frankston Campus by land-line to the powerful central computing facilities at Caulfield’.51 At the same time the school was expanding. The Department of Robotics and Digital Technology had increased in size and now included a senior lecturer and a technical officer. Non departmental developments had also occurred within the school with the establishment of a stand-alone Computing and Audio Visual Section as well as a Robotics Centre.52

Other perceptible changes took place as the School of Computing and Information Systems consolidated its structure. The focus of the school became its two departments – Electronic Data Processing and Robotics and Digital Technology – around which the course or award related teaching was centred. The Pearcey Centre for Computing – the recently renamed Pearcey Bureau – and the Robotics Centre became classified as Centres for Applied Research. They were still inextricably linked to the school, but the reorganised structure meant that distinctions had been drawn between award teaching, short courses and applied research.

The streamlined School of Computing and Information Systems was poised and ready for the significant structural change that occurred in 1984 with the creation of the Faculty of Technology. Complete with its two departments, the School of Computing and Information Systems was drawn under the umbrella of this new faculty, along with the Schools of Applied Science and Engineering. In acknowledgement of his contribution to computing and to the development of computing at Chisholm, Trevor Pearcey was made foundation dean.

Soon the Faculty of Technology’s schools were replaced by four divisions: Digital Technology, Engineering and Industrial Technology, Information Technology, and Mathematical and Environmental Studies. The Department of Robotics and Digital Technology became part of the Division of Digital Technology, and was headed by John White. The Division of Information Technology, led by Jack Greig, became home to what had once been the Department of Electronic Data Processing. The once small department, which had battled for recognition and independence, had become three highly valued and stand alone units – the Department of Computer Technology, the Department of Information Systems, and the Department of Software Development.53

These structural changes, while cumbersome to implement and destabilising in some ways, were hugely significant. The direction Chisholm was moving in, even from a simply structural perspective, was clear. It was bearing more and more resemblance to a university. Interestingly, it was a trajectory that the Department of Electronic Data Processing and later the School of Computing and Information Systems had been slowly moving along for years.

There were several course developments during this time of great structural change. Most noticeable were the changes in some of the course names. ‘Electronic Data Processing’ disappeared from degree and department titles and began to be replaced by the terms ‘computing’ and ‘information technology’. In 1984 the ‘EDP’ in parenthesis that followed the Bachelor of Applied Science was exchanged for ‘Computing’. In 1985 the Bachelor of Applied Science (Digital Technology) was introduced. In 1986 when divisions were introduced to the faculty, the Masters Degree by Coursework in Applied Science (Computing) was also offered for the first time.

Students could choose from ten courses that related directly to computing. They could study at bachelor, gradate diploma or masters level. Significantly, by 1986, postgraduate students could also undertake a research thesis. Thesis based research degrees had traditionally been one of the major points of difference between technical colleges and universities. Now students could undertake a higher degree by research at Chisholm.

The increasingly diverse course offerings, name changes and departmental restructures reflected the ongoing popularity of computing degrees. Significant increases in student numbers were witnessed in some subjects and courses. The Bachelor of Applied Science (Computing) received over 1,875 applications for 206 places in 1987. In fact, since 1980 the average ratio of applications to places had been 10:1.54 Not only was there consistently high demand for this course, but it was still extremely ‘well regarded by the Australian computing community’.55 Graduates were in high demand and ‘many final year students [would] receive at least two or three offers of employment prior to completing the course’.56

A huge rise in student numbers between 1987 and 1988 was reported across the board in computing related subjects, particularly in the first year and second year subjects EDP111 and EDP211, which increased 74% and 16% respectively.57 High demand for places in computing degrees and increases in enrolments were signs of healthy departments and divisions. However, this placed high demands on computing facilities and teaching resources. This problem was repeatedly reported in divisional and faculty level meetings. In 1988 a sample of computing students were surveyed. In one group, 88% of students reported having trouble finding a vacant computer terminal. In another, 96% cited the same problem. Logging into machines was another commonly experienced problem, as were slow responses to requests for help.58 Students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Computing were reporting the same problem. Students could not be expected to receive appropriate training without adequate access to facilities. Producing graduates with less hands on computer experience would eventually reduce student employability and threatened to damage the reputation of Chisholm.

The growth and structural change of the early 1980s had a largely positive effect on computing at Chisholm. Nevertheless it put additional strain on computing facilities and caused concern amongst computing staff who were committed to giving their students practical experience training. At this time, resource problems were being felt across the tertiary sector – in universities as well as in institutes of technology – and this was an issue that Federal and State governments were addressing. The solution that was found would change the face of higher education in Australia in a very short while.

As Chisholm developed throughout the decade of the 1980s, the gulf that had previously separated centres of advanced education from universities narrowed significantly. Research activity was increasingly on the agenda in tertiary institutions. To foster research activity and affirm the Institute’s commitment to this area of increasing importance, Chisholm established a Central Research Fund in 1987. Seed grants of between $3,000 and $5,000 were given to support year long projects or to assist postgraduate research students. It was noted that ‘the [Chisholm] Institute regards research as an important aspect of the professional identity of staff. As well as its intrinsic value, research makes a significant contribution to the teaching function of the Institute.’59

The emphasis on research was echoed at faculty, divisional and departmental levels. Plans were revealed to establish a Chisholm Journal of Information Technology, a high quality publication directed at data processing managers and other computing professionals. It was not intended to be purely academic, rather in ‘keeping with Chisholm’s traditions, emphasis will be on practical levels of real importance’.60 But despite this practical emphasis, the model that was proposed demonstrates the push to introduce an enhanced focus on research. Along with increased research activity, raising the profile of computing departments was becoming a dominant concern as the 1980s edged to a close. How the Institute, its faculties, divisions and departments were perceived was becoming increasingly important. Resources were strained and the whispers of policy change could once again be heard.

The 1980s had been a busy and largely positive decade for computing at Chisholm. Expanding student numbers and demands on resources were difficult problems to resolve, but suggested that the computing education provided by Chisholm was meeting a community need. The School of Computing and Information Systems and the divisions and departments it gave way to weathered the transition to Chisholm and its new structures exceptionally well. Since the earliest days computing staff had been adapting to the changing institution that surrounded them. The test would be how they would respond to the drastic change in higher education policy that was about to sweep the country.

The Appointed Day – A New Monash

Threads of similarity ran through the history of Monash University, Chisholm Institute of Technology and the departments of computing and computer science at the two institutions. As the 1980s progressed the position of the discipline had finally become more stable in both institutions. The Department of Computer Science at Monash and the School of Computing and Information Systems at Chisholm shared a need for increased resources and funding. They were also tied by the knowledge that higher education in Australia was about to change. And change it did in 1987 when the Federal Minister for Employment, Education and Training, John Dawkins, announced the abolition of the binary system of tertiary education. This announcement would have huge implications for Monash and Chisholm, eventually binding them together as one institution. It would also take the departments of computing and computer science at Chisholm and at Monash in a new direction, one that relied on their similarities outweighing their differences.

The first of July 1990 was ‘the appointed day’ – the day that Monash and Chisholm would become one single institution. It was the opening line of a new chapter in the history of Monash University and Chisholm Institute of Technology. It was also the day that the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology would come into being. The new faculty was the first in Australia to be solely dedicated to computing and computer science. It was a by-product of the merger, which in turn was the result of the sweeping changes to higher education instigated by Minister John Dawkins.

Dawkins’s reforms to tertiary education were hugely significant. But they were not unexpected. Commissions, taskforces and discussion papers regarding the structure, organisation and funding of higher education dominated the 1980s. The early part of the decade had seen the consolidation of various Federal and State higher education advisory committees and governing bodies. The recommendations of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Committee and the Victorian Post Secondary Education Commission had resulted in a series of amalgamations, creating new Colleges of Advanced Education (CAEs) like Chisholm Institute of Technology. The consolidation of the committees and commissions, and the amalgamations they recommended were all geared towards the same end – to increase the efficiency of the tertiary sector, to reduce overlap and to maximise resources.

The perceived inefficiency was pinned to the binary system of education that came into being after the recommendations of the Martin Report in the mid 1960s. The report proposed a two tiered system of higher education that offered two different types of tertiary education. They were to be broadly differentiated along the lines of emphasis on vocational or academic studies, undergraduate or postgraduate course offerings and staff engagement in teaching or in a combination of teaching and research. It was this structure that became known as the binary system. It was motivated by a desire to provide different types of training supporting the community, the workforce and the Australian economy. CAEs like Chisholm typified the technical, vocation based tier while Monash University represented the academic, research based level.

At a crucial time in the history of education in Australia, ‘the binary system played an important developmental role, particularly in expanding the level of higher education participation and increasing the range of professional fields represented in the higher education system’.61 Initially, the delineation between the two tiers was clear and the type of education and training provided by each was well defined. Technical colleges provided career focussed, practical education in an applied context. Universities were places for degree based studies where the emphasis was theoretical as opposed to applied, and included training in research skills. But gradually the lines of difference began to blur. Institutes of technology, particularly the larger ones like Chisholm, began to offer degree courses and research based degrees. Slowly, the internal structure of many of the CAEs began to mimic that of a university.

The infrastructure required to support the binary system was considered valid only if it remained exactly that, binary. Report after report suggested that there was overlap between the two tiers and criticised the inefficient use of resources that resulted.62 Hence the attempts to streamline and consolidate throughout the 1980s. Increasingly, there was believed to be little point in sustaining this system of education if the two alternatives it provided were becoming more and more similar.

In 1987, immediately after it was elected to a second term, the Hawke Government acted quickly. It introduced reforms that abolished the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Committee (CTEC) and established the Department of Employment, Education and Training in its place with Dawkins as its head. CTEC, which existed from 1977-1987, had occupied a space between Federal and State governments. While its responsibilities were national and it coordinated the administration and funding of tertiary institutions, it did so in a consultative way, ensuring the involvement of the states. However, perhaps as a result of this approach, CTEC was widely criticised for being inefficient and ineffective in its decision making process.63 Seeking to further consolidate the tertiary sector and the way it was administered, the Government disbanded CTEC and transferred its regulatory and administrative roles to the newly established department.

The creation of the Department of Employment, Education and Training ‘in turn, provided the springboard for the reforms’ that Dawkins was about to propose.64 First, he announced the end of the binary system and stated that in future ‘all higher education institutions would be funded for teaching purposes on a basis determined by their respective educational profile’, rather than by whether they were a technical college or a university.65 Research support would be made available on a competitive basis according to institutional performance. It was an approach to the tertiary sector that was heavily underpinned by economic rationalism.66

A ‘Policy Discussion Paper of Higher Education’, also known as the Green Paper, was released by Dawkins in December 1987. The paper addressed the implications of the dissolution of the binary system. By July 1988, the Discussion Paper had been formalised into the ‘Policy Statement of Higher Education’. A new Unified National System (UNS) was to stand in place of the binary system and the Policy Statement, or White Paper, detailed its structure and operation.

Universities or institutions which met specified student loads and expressed their commitment to a host of principles detailed in the White Paper, including research management, staffing arrangements, and a common academic year, were eligible for membership – read funding – of the UNS. Institutions that did not meet the advised student load and had little prospect of future growth were ‘encouraged to consider carefully their future development as independent institutions’.67

The Dawkins reforms sought to consolidate the tertiary sector into an education system ‘with fewer institutions, each having a broader and more diverse educational profile, thus providing a sounder base on which to operate in a more competitive environment where funding will be allocated increasingly on the basis of performance’.68 For larger institutions, like universities, meeting the membership criteria of the UNS was achievable. However, for the smaller institutions, the message was clear. Merging with an existing university or joining forces with other CAEs were the only ways to receive funding in the new tertiary system.

In May 1988, Jack Greig, Head of the Division of Technology at Chisholm tabled an article at a meeting of all department heads within his division. The article had appeared in the Journal of Advanced Education, and according to Greig, raised some problematic issues that were worthy of discussion.69 The article was about the implications of the Dawkins reforms on CAEs. It argued that the reforms were the first step towards the wholesale privatisation of the tertiary sector.70 But the issue at hand for the Division of Technology and for Chisholm as a whole was not how to classify the policy in terms of its economic validity, but rather what it meant for Chisholm. It was becoming increasingly clear that change was inevitable. It was not a question of whether Chisholm would merge, it was a question of who Chisholm would merge with.71 By the time Greig had tabled this article on the UNS, a frenzy of merger discussions had already commenced.

State responses to the dissolution of the binary system were almost immediate. In January 1988, less than a month after the Green Paper was released by Dawkins, the Victorian Post Secondary Education Commission had distributed its own response. Entitled ‘Options for the Development of Higher Education Structures in Victoria’, it put forward various institutional partnerships. One of them was the merger of Monash University and Chisholm Institute of Technology.72 The concept of a union between Chisholm and Monash was not new. It had been rumoured to be a possibility in 1986 and 1987 possibly as result of increased contact and collaboration between the two institutions at the time.73 Interestingly, in early December 1987 a meeting was held at Chisholm. Monash Vice-Chancellor Mal Logan, The Hon. John Dawkins and VPSEC’s Ron Cullen were all in attendance. With the Dawkins Green Paper ‘about to be released, merger talk was in the air’.74

Discussions gained momentum rapidly. Both Monash and the University of Melbourne, eager to maximise strategic opportunities with the CAEs, were keen to act fast. Chisholm was seen as a particularly appealing merger option. It had a long and diverse history, was close to the city while being firmly based in the south eastern suburbs, had a campus in Frankston and had, over the years, established exceptionally strong industry links. Monash was extremely interested in exploring merger options. The Monash University Council approved initial discussions with Chisholm Institute. This partnership was also considered worthwhile by Chisholm. In April 1988 Chisholm Council resolved to accept the Discussion Paper and VPSEC’s response to it. Chisholm Council also ‘authorised the Director to participate in investigations with Monash University and other institutions accordingly’.75

Both Monash and Chisholm had also considered alternative merger options. However, the only other partnership discussion that would eventuate in a formal agreement was between Monash University and the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education. On 24 January 1989 the councils of Monash University and the Gippsland Institute entered into an agreement for the Gippsland Institute to become affiliated with Monash University. The manoeuvring and negotiations were falling into place and a greater Monash was being built. The final move was formal agreement with Chisholm, which came just a few months later. A ‘Heads of Agreement’ document between Monash and Chisholm was signed by both governing councils on 11 May 1989. It signalled ‘the beginning of a merger process which will lead to the establishment on 1 July 1990 of one of the biggest and most diverse universities in Australia.’76

With the merger approved on a conceptual level, attention was turned to its practical realisation on ‘the appointed day’. The merging of two institutions each with their own culture, identity, structures and practices was a large task, fraught with the potential for conflict and angst from all involved parties. The ‘Heads of Agreement’ document stipulated several conditions, enabling either institution to withdraw at any point. A Merger Implementation Committee was established to facilitate the union. The Committee comprised the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, the Director of the Chisholm Institute of Technology and 17 others from both institutions. Various subcommittees were also established to advise and recommend on ‘issues concerned with maintaining, managing and bringing together the procedures of the two institutions, and the effective merging of their respective student bodies and staff complements.’77

The Committee met for the first time in June 1989. Vice-Chancellor Logan chaired the Committee with Paul Ramler, the president of the Chisholm Council, as deputy chair. Five working parties were established: Academic Programs and Structures; Systems, Property and Finance; Academic Services; Student Organisation and Services; and Human Resource Management. An additional working party was also established to advise on the governance and structure of the enlarged institution and the amendments necessary to the Monash Act, Statutes and Regulations.78 It was the recommendations of the Academic Programs and Structures Working Party that would be particularly relevant to the future of computing and computer science at the new Monash.

Merging the academic programs and structures of two institutions was a large and complicated task. Aware of the sensitivities involved, the Working Party sent letters seeking feedback to all heads of schools and departments that were to be affected by any new proposed academic program or structure.79 Soon after the first meeting of the Merger Implementation Committee one such letter was sent to Dr Roy Williams, Dean of the Faculty of Technology at Chisholm. Professor John Hay, Chair of the Academic Programs and Structures Working Party, was interested in Dr Williams’s feedback on a number of issues, including ‘the possibility of the development of a Faculty of Computing and Information Technology’.80

According to the Working Party ‘the combined activity of the two Institutions is of sufficient size to warrant the establishment of a Faculty of Computing and Information Technology’.81 The structure of the Chisholm departments that related to computing had changed little during the final years of 1980s. There were four computing departments at Chisholm – Robotics and Digital Technology, Computer Technology, Information Systems, and Software Development. All were located within the Faculty of Technology. At Monash, the Department of Computer Science, still located within the Faculty of Science, remained the centre of computer science teaching and research.

Williams came out in favour of the proposal. He wrote to Professor Hay expressing his full endorsement of the new Faculty of Computing and Information Technology.82 However, he took the opportunity to urge those involved in establishing the structure of the new faculty to protect and preserve the reputation and area of expertise that each institution brought to the union.

On 28 July 1989, Professor Les Goldschlager, Head of the Department of Computer Science at Monash, Jack Greig, Head of the Division of Information Technology at Chisholm, and Jim Breen, Head of the Department of Robotics and Digital Technology at Chisholm wrote to Professor Hay to express their support for the proposal. Some weeks later Goldschlager drafted a document, ‘The Formation of the Proposed Faculty of Computing and Information Technology at Monash University’.83 Once again, resounding support for the new faculty was expressed and the strengths of each institution’s respective computing and computer science activity were outlined. Goldschlager commented that ‘the bringing together of these elements into one faculty will position the post-amalgamation university as the largest and most highly regarded provider of tertiary computing education in the country’.84

But not everyone supported the creation of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology. As dean of the Faculty of Science at Monash, where the Department of Computer Science had always been located, Professor William Muntz was asked for his feedback on the proposed new faculty. Neither he nor his faculty was convinced. Ironically, after years of tension regarding funding levels, imposed quotas, access to equipment, technical support, and space, the Faculty of Science was hesitant to see the Department of Computer Science removed and placed in a stand alone faculty. While acknowledging the ‘high level of complementarity between’ the Department of Computer Science and the various departments at Chisholm, Professor Muntz relayed that the Faculty of Science would ‘prefer to retain the present strong connections between Computer Science and other departments in the faculty by exploring the creation of a School of Computing and Information Technology … within the Faculty of Science’.85

The head of the School of Applied Science at Chisholm held a similar view to Professor Muntz. Hesitant to endorse a Faculty of Computing and Information Technology, instead his support was for a similar School of Computing and Information Technology within the Faculty of Science.86 One of the major sources of concern was teaching – it did not appear to either Monash’s Faculty of Science or Chisholm’s School of Applied Science that the educational consequences of establishing a new faculty had been explored.87 However, after reassurance from the Working Party and the release of a lengthy document detailing the proposed structure and organisation of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology, concerns were allayed. The new faculty was supported on the proviso that ‘courses of appropriate level and content will continue to be available to Science students’.88

After expressing their support for the proposal to establish a new entity, the heads of the departments that would combine to form the new faculty put together a ‘Proposal for the Formation of a Faculty of Computing and Information Technology’.89 First and foremost, it recommended a structure for the new faculty. Six departments would be drawn together – the Department of Computer Science, the three departments of the School of Computing and Information Science (Computer Technology, Information Systems, and Software Development), the Department of Robotics and Digital Technology, and lastly, the Department of Business Systems. The final department was previously part of the Faculty of Economics and Politics at Monash and prior to the merger had been known as the Department of Information Systems.

The inclusion of the proposed Department of Business Systems – still known as the Department of Information Systems at this point – was a relatively late development in the discussions regarding the structure and composition of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology. It was a result of tension that had arisen surrounding how, and indeed if, the David Syme Business School at Chisholm and the Faculty of Economics and Politics at Monash would combine at the point of merger. The location of the Department of Information Systems was hotly debated within this context. Nick Hastings and Rob Willis of the Department of Information Systems were in support of the creation of a Faculty of Commerce. Ideally, their department would be located there. However if this faculty did not go ahead, their second preference was to join the proposed Faculty of Computing and Information Technology.90

Although discussions were still underway regarding the location of the Department of Information Systems, the ‘Proposal for the Formation of a Faculty of Computing and Information Technology’ worked on the assumption that it would be included in the structure. While there were numerous concerns about the way the departments would be combined and how the expertise and emphasis of each institution’s computing and computer science activity would be preserved, there was still overwhelming positivity surrounding the new faculty. The proposal outlined how the synthesis of the departments and the combining of the two different, but equally valid, approaches to the discipline of information technology could be achieved. It also detailed the courses that would be offered as part of the new faculty, the locations of the departments and how the faculty would relate, in terms of teaching and research, to other faculties in the expanded Monash. This proposal formed the basis of the Academic Programs and Structures Working Party’s final recommendations.

The final report of the Academic Programs and Structures Working Party was submitted to the Merger Implementation Committee at the end of October. In early November 1989 the Committee recommended that on the appointed day there be nine faculties in the enlarged Monash: Arts, Business and Economics, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Professional Studies, Science, and finally, Computing and Information Technology.91 The report was approved and progressed through to the councils of each institution within the following weeks. The academic structure of the new Monash had taken shape.

With the establishment of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology confirmed, operational details of its structure and organisation required urgent attention. In January 1990 Professor Wallace wrote to Professor Hay requesting that he meet with the heads of department that would form the new faculty. He urged that there was a need to talk about establishing a structure for the new faculty in addition to budget and planned student load.92 With just six months before the appointed day, anxiety was understandably growing. Professor Crossley wrote to the University Comptroller reiterating the importance of appointing a planning dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology so that further negotiations between the departments of the new faculty could continue.93

The issue of who would head the faculty was complicated. Both Monash and Chisholm had highly structured departments with well established, highly respected department heads and leaders. Would the foundation dean be someone from Chisholm or someone from Monash? Would the dean represent the applied or theoretical side of computing? Would he or she be an external candidate, entirely new to Monash? The appointment of the planning dean was eagerly anticipated and it was likely that this person would continue on as foundation dean after the appointed day.

Staff at Chisholm and Monash had their own opinions about who would be best to head the new faculty. Unknown to Geoffrey Vaughan, Director of Chisholm, a meeting was held in February 1990 at which computing staff from both institutions discussed putting forward Jack Greig, Dean of the Division of Technology, for the position of planning and foundation dean. Upon hearing of the meeting Vaughan immediately sent an apologetic memo to Vice-Chancellor Logan. He stated that although Greig attended the meeting, he was not aware of the proposal before it was brought up in discussion. Vaughan reiterated that he remained committed to the ‘understanding on the position in question, and [that] this has been accepted by Chisholm’.94 It seems clear from this comment that Vaughan and Logan had already reached an understanding about who would be appointed planning dean, despite the fact that an announcement had yet to be made. Indeed, it was only several weeks after Vaughan’s memo that Professor Cliff Bellamy was named as planning dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology.95

Cliff Bellamy had been a Monash fixture since its earliest days. Assigned to Monash by Ferranti Ltd. to assist with the operation of its first computer, the Ferranti Sirius, Bellamy never left the University. Heavily involved in the history and development of computing in Australia and at Monash University, Bellamy was the head of the Computer Centre and had been given professorial status in the 1970s. Bellamy was also involved in the establishment of the Chair of Information Science at Monash in the mid 1960s which in turn led to the creation of the Department of Computer Science. He was also a key figure in the review of computer science at Monash that dominated the late 1970s and early 1980s. While Bellamy had professorial status, technically, his role as Director of the Computer Centre saw him classified as a general, rather than academic staff member. Some objected to his appointment as planning dean on the grounds that an academic appointment would have been more appropriate. However, despite this view, there could be no doubt about his knowledge of computing or its development in Australia and in the tertiary sector. In addition he had been a part of Monash University since its doors first opened in 1961.

With the planning dean announced, an Interim Faculty Management Committee was established and began to work through the practical issues of the creation of the faculty. There was much to discuss and stabilise before the appointed day. Meetings were held, mostly at the new Caulfield campus of Monash, and involved discussion of issues like the composition of the Faculty Board, the courses the faculty would offer and the location of the departments and administrative centres. The Management Committee also discussed the process for the appointment of a permanent dean.

Decisions were reached as 1 July rapidly approached. The Bachelor of Computing was approved and introduced. It was set to appear in the course guide in 1991, but it would not replace any existing undergraduate degrees. Bachelor of Science students would still be able to enrol in subjects offered by the new faculty, as had been agreed with the Faculty of Science earlier in the merger negotiations. It was agreed that the Department of Robotics and Digital Technology would be relocated to the Clayton campus when space became available so that opportunities to collaborate with the Department of Computer Science could be maximised. The three other Chisholm departments would remain at Caulfield.

What was to become the Caulfield campus of the new Monash would contain two thirds of staff and students of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology. It was therefore agreed that the main faculty office would be located at Caulfield along with the deputy dean and assistant registrar. A faculty office would also be set up at Clayton to assist students and to act as a base for the dean and an administrative officer who would also be the deputy assistant registrar. As the merger date crept closer the new faculty took shape in a practical and operational sense. Boards and committees were established, while building and budgetary issues were a major concern.

The Interim Faculty Management Committee had a lot to achieve in a very short space of time. Much of its activity and decision making centred around highly practical matters. But its deliberations also had to take into account the sensitivities that arose from the reality that the creation of the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology joined together departments from two very different institutions. They were united by their discipline, but made different by their approach to it. Chisholm staff expressed concern that they would be pushed into academic research or judged by their Monash peers against the traditional university approach to education and research. How could Chisholm and Monash staff be judged against the same criteria for academic promotion when one institution had focussed on teaching and applied computing and the other on research and computer science?

Concern about the differences between CAEs and universities and the difficulty of combining staff from each into a new discipline grouping was not unique to Computing and Information Technology. Considerable friction surrounded this issue in many areas of the two institutions and some staff were remarkably hostile about the results of the merger. One chairman of a Monash department was particularly scathing, commenting that, ‘In essence, I believe we cannot embrace Chisholm without being contaminated by mediocrity’.96 While there was concern and trepidation amongst staff of the departments of computing and computer science at Chisholm and Monash, it was not as extreme as in other areas. There was some fear that the differing approaches to the discipline would not be able to co-exist and that one would impose dominance over the other, but this was largely overcome by staff of both institutions.

Despite the magnitude of its creation, the time frame in which it had to occur, and the concerns and doubts that surrounded its creation, on 1 July 1990, the Faculty of Computing and Information Technology was operational. The discipline that had for so long struggled for acceptance at Monash University and Chisholm Institute of Technology was represented by a stand alone faculty, dedicated to its teaching and research. The challenge for the new faculty would be maintaining the strengths of each of the parts that had combined to form this new whole.


Figure 4.1. Chisholm computer staff Noel Craske (left) and Graeme Shanks, developing the expert systems project with Jenni Masters of Arthur Anderson, 1988.

Monash University Archives IN 2935.

Figure 4.2. One of the main buildings at the State College of Victoria at Frankston, which merged with Caulfield Institute of Technology to form Chisolm Institute of Technology in 1981.

Monash University Archives IN 3242.

Figure 4.3. Monash University Computer Centre, 1980.

Monash University Archives IN 6157, Richard Crompton.

Figure 4.4. Information Modelling course for Telecom staff at the Pearcey Centre for Computing taught by John Symington, lecturer in the Division of Information Technology, 1985.

Monash University Archives IN 6585.

Figure 4.5. Chisholm Institute lecturer in Robotics, Dr Ken Wong with Heathkit Hero Robot, 1984.

Monash University Archives IN 2940.

Figure 4.6. Chisholm computing students demonstrating a system developed for the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, 1988.

Monash University Archives IN 3150.

Figure 4.7. Pearl Levin, executive director Pearcey Centre for Computing, 1990.

Monash University Archives IN 2619.

Figure 4.8. Monash University Computer Centre director Dr Cliff Bellamy explaining the operation of MONET, the University’s local area network, 1986.

Monash University Archives IN 1554, Tony Miller.

Figure 4.9. Professor Mal Logan, 1987.

Monash University Archives IN 328.

Figure 4.10. Monash University Deputy Warden Doug Ellis inspecting voting console designed by computer science students, including postgraduate John Rosenberg (left) and tutor Peter Dewildt, 1976.

Monash University Archives IN 1786.

Figure 4.11. Dr David Abramson (left) and Dr John Rosenberg with MONADS-PC, 1985.

Monash University Archives IN 633.

Figure 4.12. Student Damian Conway in Monash University graphics laboratory, 1987.

Monash University Archives IN 628, Tony Miller.


1    Monash University Archives, MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (CF/404/2 Pt 2), Document Number 50.

2    Ibid., Document Number 58a.

3    Ibid.

4    Ibid.

5    This was a concern that pervaded other departments and faculties as they responded to the review implementation. For example, see ibid., Document Number 3.

6    Monash University Archives, MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (CF/404/0).

7    Ibid.

8    Monash University Archives, MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (EA/404/1).

9    Ibid.

10  Ibid.

11  Various minutes of the Selection Committee found in Ibid.

12  Ibid.

13  Ibid.

14  Interview with Les Goldschlager 25 February, 2003.

15  Ibid.

16  Interview with Gopal Gupta, 3 January 2003.

17  Interview with Peter Stuckey, 16 January 2003.

18  Monash University Archives, MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (CF/404/2 Pt 3), Document Number 6.

19  Monash University Archives, MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (CF/404/2 Pt 2), Review Report, p. 19.

20  Ibid., pp 10–11.

21  Ibid., Document Number 31.

22  Monash University Archives, MON 548 Course handbooks, Course Guide 1984.

23  Ibid., Course Guide 1990.

24  Monash University Archives, MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (CF/404/2) Pt 2, Review Report.

25  For example see Monash University Archives MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (EA/404/0), Document Number 33, and Monash University Archives, MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (CF/404/2 Pt 3), Document Number 1.

26  Monash University Archives, MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (EA/404/0), Document Number 41.

27  Ibid., Document Number 49.

28  Ibid.

29  Monash University Archives, MON 1 Administrative correspondence files, alpha-numeric series (CF/404/0), Document Number 59.

30  Monash University Archives, MON 974 Administrative correspondence files, annual single number series (87/0816), Document Number 39a.

31  Ibid.

32  Monash University Archives, MON 267 Chisholm Institute of Technology Administrative correspondence files, annual single number series (81/868), Document Number 28.

33  Monash University Archives, MON 934 Chisholm Institute of Technology Handbooks (94/01/586) & (94/01/587), 1980. The two new courses were the Graduate Diploma in Information Systems and the Graduate Diploma in Process Computer Systems.

34  Ibid., 1981.

35  Chisholm Institute of Technology Statistics 1982, prepared by the Statistics Office of the Academic Registrar’s department, p. 21.

36  Monash University Archives, MON 267 Chisholm Institute of Technology Administrative correspondence files, annual single number series (84/961), Document 61.

37  Chisholm Institute of Technology Statistics 1982, prepared by the Statistics Office of the Academic Registrar’s department, p. v.

38  Victorian Year Book, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Victorian Office, 1873–2002, p. 583.

39  Ibid., pp 579–580.

40  Ibid.

41  Ibid., p. 580.

42  Monash University Archives, MON 313 Draft history of Caulfield Institute of Technology (94/01/303), Document Number 1.

43  Ibid.

44  Monash University Archives, MON 881 Chisholm Institute of Technology Annual Reports, 1980, p. 3.

45  Monash University Archives, MON 313 Draft history of Caulfield Institute of Technology (94/01/303), Document Number 1.

46  Monash University Archives, MON 717 Chisholm Institute of Technology News Sheets (93/24/83), Issue 81/5.

47  Ibid.

48  Monash University Archives, MON 267 Chisholm Institute of Technology Administrative correspondence files, annual single number series (81/868), Folio 72.

49  Ibid., Folio 2.

50  Ibid., Folio 22.

51  Monash University Archives, MON 934 Chisholm Institute of Technology Handbooks (94/01/586) and (94/01/587), 1983.

52  Ibid.

53  Ibid., 1987.

54  Monash University Archives, MON 957 Faculty of Information Technology Faculty Office subject files (99/19/62), Meeting 1/87.

55  Ibid.

56  Monash University Archives, MON 957 Faculty of Information Technology Faculty Office subject files (99/19/62), Meeting 1/87.

57  Ibid., 7 June 1988.

58  Ibid.

59  Ibid., 23 March 1987.

60  Ibid., 17 March 1988.

61  Report of the Task Force on Amalgamations in Higher Education, National Board of Employment, Education and Training, April 1989, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, p. 1.

62  Ibid.

63  N. Marshall and C. Walsh (eds), Federalism and Public Policy: The Governance and Funding of Australian Higher Education, The Federalism Research Centre, The Australian National University, Canberra, 1992, pp 37–39.

64  Ibid., p. 40.

65  Report of the Task Force on Amalgamations in Higher Education, p. 2.

66  Life after Dawkins: The Challenges and Opportunities of a University Model for colleges of advanced education, Victoria College, Bowater Faculty of Business, 1991, no. 10, p. 1.

67  Report of the Task Force on Amalgamations in Higher Education, p. 2.

68  Ibid., p. 3.

69  Monash University Archives, MON 957 Faculty of Information Technology Faculty Office subject files (99/19/46), 1 March 1988.

70  Copy of article appears in ibid.

71  Interview with Peter Juliff, 6 November 2002.

72  This initial suggestion was quite complex and also involved Swinburne Institute of Technology at Hawthorn and the transfer of the Monash Faculty of Education to Victoria College. Those elements did not go ahead.

73  S. Marginson, Monash: Remaking the University, pp 100–101.

74  Ibid., p. 101.

75  Monash University Archives, MON 267 Chisholm Institute of Technology Administrative correspondence files, annual single number series (88/395), Folio 2.

76  Monash University Archives, MON 925 Sound: the official broadsheet of Monash University, 11 May 1989.

77  Ibid.

78  Ibid., Meeting 1/89.

79  For example see, Monash University Archives, MON 974 Administrative correspondence files, annual single number series (89/1139, 89/1425, 89/1716, 90/0429), Folio 4.

80  Ibid.

81  Ibid., Folio 7.

82  Ibid., Folio 10K.

83  Ibid., Folio 23.

84  Ibid.

85  Ibid., Folio 18.

86  Ibid., Folio 19.

87  Ibid., Document 18.

88  Ibid., Document 39.

89  Ibid.

90  Ibid., Folio 46.

91  Monash University Archives, MON 718 Chisholm Institute of Technology Public Relations Office subject files, Report Number 5/89.

92  Monash University Archives, MON 974 Administrative correspondence files, annual single number series (90/0220), 30 January 1990.

93  Ibid., 16 March 1990.

94  Ibid., 22 February 1990.

95  Monash University Archives, MON 925 Sound: the official broadsheet of Monash University, 27 April 1990.

96  Monash University Archives, MON 974 Administrative correspondence files, annual single number series (88/1255), Document Number 3.


Cite this chapter as: Rood, Sarah. 2008. ‘The faculty is born’. In From Ferranti to Faculty: Information Technology at Monash University, 1960 to 1990. Melbourne: Monash University Custom Publishing Services, on behalf of the Monash University Information Technology faculty. pp. 4.1–4.32.

© Copyright 2008 Sarah Rood

All rights reserved. Apart from any uses permitted by Australia's Copyright Act 1968, no part of this book may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission of the copyright owners. The fact that this book is published online does not mean that any part of it can be reproduced without first obtaining written permission: copyright laws do still apply. Inquiries should be directed to the publisher, Monash University Custom Publishing Services:

From Ferranti to Faculty: Information Technology at Monash University, 1960 to 1990

   by Sarah Rood