Burgmann College WEB 38

The advent of the Burgmann College Postgraduate Village

To celebrate the Postgraduate Village's 20th birthday, we invited Rev Dr Lewis Rushbrook, Burgmann alumnus (1971–1976), former Principal (1995–2005), and key driver of the establishment of the Postgraduate Village at Burgmann College, to reflect on his memories of establishing the Village.

I’m so proud to have been involved in the concept and development of the Postgraduate Village at Burgmann College.

The late 1960s original design for the College was for four wings enclosing a traditional Oxbridge ‘quad’. Funding challenges, however, meant that only two wings were built. It was only in 1997 that the wings were given their official names of ‘Barassi’ and ‘Homer’, after AFL legend Ron Barassi AM and the venerated Greek poet, respectively.

When I returned from England in 1995 to take up as Principal at Burgmann College, I brought with me the concept—rare at the time for Australian university colleges— of a fully-blown residential community, not only mixed-gender, but 240 undergrads and 120 postgrads, with families, staff, academics, in self-catered and fully-catered facilities.

I say ‘rare’, and I should know: I was the President of Australia’s residential colleges association at the time and knew the sector well. I had seen such a community before, working successfully in my and other Oxford colleges.

So, it was a proven model in my view. Eager to capitalise on the 2004 launch of ANU’s postgraduate medical school, I proceeded to share the vision with the College Council. Agreement!

The project was launched, and, with Chairman Len Goodman AO as an enthusiastic driver, we plunged into a labyrinth of committees, control groups and spreadsheets. Nervously-funded, construction began in 2003 and the College’s Postgraduate Village opened in 2004.

Twenty years on, it’s thrilling to see how the concept has been taken up and absorbed into the community life of Burgmann, rendering the College quite distinctive in Australia. For me, looking back, it’s conceiving and helping to create the Village that is the absolute highpoint of my association with Burgmann—more even, dare I say, than ‘being’ Luigi!

- Rev Dr Lewis Rushbrook | Postgrad resident 1971–1976, Staff tutor 1972–1976, Principal 1995–2005

Rsz for website rev dr lewis rushbrook
Burgmann portrait of former Principal Rev Dr Lewis 'Luigi' Rushbrook.
Once announced, an honourary tree was planted to commemorate the commencement of the construction for the Village.
Village street 2
Today, the Village is a thriving, established educational and residential community.
Image 17
Lewis Rushbrook speaking at the 'Mega Luigi's' event in 2021.
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