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Our First Graduates

Griffith University’s first student undergraduate ceremony took place on the 25th February 1978. One hundred and seventy students graduated from our four foundation Schools with either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. Debra Cunningham from the School of Australian Environmental Studies was our first Bachelor award recipient. We also awarded our first Doctorate at this ceremony to David Doddrell from the then School of Science. However, the first awarding of any Griffith degree to any student was made in 1976 to Peter Mayer, who was awarded a Master of Philosophy from the School of Humanities. We actually offered postgraduate training during our first year of teaching in 1975.

No matter what level of study our pioneering students were undertaking - it was the intention of our founders that they be exposed to many fields of knowledge (interdisciplinary). Students were encouraged to apply their multidisciplinary knowledge base to come up with solutions to existing social and community problems – real world problems – rather than applying their knowledge to hypotheticals and theories. While this teaching philosophy was a move away from most conventional university teaching practices of the time – early Griffith graduates were generally well received by employers as they entered the workforce armed with a more varied and comprehensive Bachelor qualification.

In fact, of the first graduating students, over half (around ninety in total) chose to go on and do further study. This meant that it was around eighty students that left to pursue employment. Further research into our foundation job seekers revealed that of the sixty-eight available to actively seek employment - only eleven (six and half percent of the one-hundred and seventy original graduates) had not secured employment of some kind during their first year after graduation. Half of our first Bachelor graduates had chosen not to pursue employment and were undertaking post-graduate studies mostly at Griffith, but also at other institutions. Interestingly, one government report of the time suggests that even our foundation Bachelor recipients pursuing work were subject to a job market that had an oversupply of university graduates. A problem increasingly faced by graduates of today.