Our history

At Murdoch University, we’ve been committed to free-thinking since our inception in the 60’s. We’ve created a place of learning and discovery through our leading academics, innovative courses, and ground-breaking research.

We pioneered access to a university education for people from diverse backgrounds, and are proud to see our students take their Murdoch education to the world to solve its challenges. Throughout this journey we’ve remained committed to adapting and growing in our free-thinking. In this way, we continue to be a creative force for education and research.

 
 
December 1967

Breaking new ground

229 hectares in the City of Melville is chosen as the site for the state’s second university by the Western Australian government. What was then the Somerville Pine Plantation is now our vibrant Perth campus, part of a thriving state precinct for education, research and health.

The Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation are the traditional custodians of the country and waters on which Murdoch University stands today.

 
 
9 July 1970

Our University is named

Western Australian Premier Sir David Brand announces that the new university will be named "Murdoch" in honour of esteemed author, philosopher and academic Sir Walter Murdoch.

 
 
1970

A memorable contribution begins

One of Australia's most recognised historians, Professor Geoffrey Bolton, is appointed to the Murdoch University planning board. He goes on to become our Foundation Professor of History (1973-1989), Senate member (3 terms) and Chancellor (2002-2006).

Professor Bolton was awarded with Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) (1984), a Centenary Medal (2001), and named the WA Australian of the Year (2006). Today we honour him through our Geoffrey Bolton Fund.

 
November 1973

Leading the way in inclusive education

Murdoch forges what is now a tradition of inclusive education and innovative curriculum. We become the first Australian university to introduce a flexible admission system, considering factors other than school exam results.

Schools founded

Our six founding Schools are established, in disciplines for which we continue to have strengths in today:

  • Education
  • Environmental and Life Sciences
  • Human Communication
  • Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Social Inquiry
  • Veterinary Studies
 
17 September 1974

Murdoch officially opens

Murdoch University's inauguration ceremony is held on the 100th anniversary of Sir Walter Murdoch's birth.

The event is commemorated with the setting of a survey mark at the centre of the campus on Bush Court, placed by Sir John Kerr, the Governor General of Australia. The mark is made with a disc of granite from Rosehearty, Scotland – the birthplace of Sir Walter Murdoch. It stands alongside a sculpture by Perth artist, Maris Raudzins.

 
1974

A commitment to the arts

Murdoch’s commitment to access to the arts, culture and learning for all is cemented with the completion of our Library building. Later named the Geoffrey Bolton Library in 2017, it is the heart of learning and literature for our students and the wider community.

The Murdoch Art Collection is launched with the first donations from Rix Weaver, Peggy Perrins Shaw and Surveyor-General John Morgan. It continues to grow as a national cultural asset, now containing over 1,600 works thanks to our generous friends and Alumni.

 
1975

First students begin

Murdoch’s first year of teaching commences, with the initial courses on offer ranging from Environmental Science, Biology and Veterinary Studies, to Economics and Education, and Communications and History.

Our 714 commencing undergraduate students are not deterred as workers are applying the finishing touches to buildings when they arrive at 9am for our first ever Orientation Week.

Murdoch's vibrant student community is quickly forged, and the Guild of Students publish the first edition of METIOR, our student newspaper which still exists – online – today.

 
 
1976

Murdoch’s identity laid out

Our emblem, a maroon shield carrying a stylised "M" above a representation of the Banksia grandis, is approved by Senate. The Banksia is a tree native to South West Australia, and is commonly found across our Perth campus. A revised version of this logo is later updated in 1997.

 
1977

First students graduate

Murdoch’s inaugural graduation ceremony welcomes our first cohort of Murdoch Alumni.

Our first graduate is Dr. Garry Gillard, who receives his Masters degree. Dr. Gillard later went on to be awarded his PhD and become a Murdoch University staff member, in addition to working at Deakin University and overseas.

 
1978

Psychology studies begin

We add psychology courses to the Murdoch University curriculum.

 
 
23 March 1979

Vet school opens

Our Veterinary School – the only one in Western Australia – officially opens. We are also the first university in Australia to build a practicing veterinary teaching and research space.

 
1982

Blazing a trail for indigenous university education

Murdoch's first Aboriginal student, Isabelle Adams, graduates. Ms. Adams (BED 1982, MED 1987) was later appointed the inaugural chairperson of the Murdoch University Aboriginal Advisory Council (MUAAC) and was instrumental in establishing Murdoch’s Aboriginal Student Support Centre.

 
 
1983

Becoming a village

The first stage of the Murdoch University Student Village opens to provide accommodation for 32 students on the Perth campus.

The University Village, a 3-hectare residential facility, is later updated in 2009 to provide accommodation for 814 residents, with a focus on sustainable living. It houses over 170 self-contained apartments in addition to shared study, sporting, entertainment and social facilities.

 
 
8 July 1983

Focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

Murdoch's Aboriginal Education Unit (renamed Kulbardi in 1996) opens to improve pathways and participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in higher education.

The centre offers academic, cultural and social support, as well as our award-winning K-Track enabling program.

 
1988

Granted recognition for research expertise

Murdoch University solidifies its global research strengths with the establishment of the Asia Research Centre. The Centre was then awarded a Special Research Centre Grant of more than $6m by the Australian Research Council in 1990.

Notably, this was the first SRC grant awarded in the social sciences or humanities, and the size of the grant was unheard of outside the sciences.

 
 
1992

Law School established

The Murdoch School of Law is established, with our first law students commencing. We quickly secure our place as a prestigious undergraduate law school, awarding our first law graduates in 1994, and producing a Rhodes Scholar, Fulbright Scholar, Lionel Murphy Scholar and several Rotary Graduate Fellowship winners within our first five graduating classes.

 
 
1993

First overseas graduates

128 students from our Singapore Campus graduate in our first overseas ceremony. Murdoch has since become the second largest foreign university operating in Singapore.

 
 
1994

New Science and Arts facilities open

The Loneragan Building, named in honour of fisheries ecologist Emeritus Professor Jack Loneragan and his late wife Mona, opens to expand Murdoch's science teaching and research facilities on the Perth campus.

The Nexus Theatre opens as Murdoch's premier teaching and performing arts venue. The 175 seat facility is operated by professional staff and students, and is available to both the University and wider community for performances, seminars, and screenings.

 
 
1995

Overseas expansion continues

Our first intake of Master of Business Administration students commence in Hong Kong.

We later continue our growth in strategic global locations, beginning our Murdoch Alumni Malaysian Chapter in 1998, and opening our second international campus in Dubai in 2008.

 
 
1996

New courses engineered

Murdoch University adds Engineering courses to its curriculum, innovating its interdisciplinary approach to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

 
1998

Rockingham campus opens

Murdoch opens its Rockingham Campus, an educational hub that aims to improve educational, employment and research opportunities in the Rockingham, Kwinana and Peel districts. A range of entry pathways and enabling programs are offered at the University, as well as a 24/7 Learning Hub, library, gym and café.

 
2000

Health partnership forms

One of our most significant research centres is born, in partnership with Royal Perth Hospital, when The Centre for Clinical Immunology and Biomedical Statistics (CCIBS) opens. We later expand upon our strengths in the field when The Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases (IIID) opens in May 2007.

The IIID, a collaboration with the Health Department of Western Australia, has attracted more than $32million in state and federal government funding, donations from philanthropists, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have contributed more than $13 million to its research which includes drug discoveries for the treatment and vaccination of HIV-AIDS.

 
 
2004

New Law facility opens

Our state-of-the art Law School is enhanced with the opening of our $3.7 million purpose built facility.

Murdoch's new Law building includes the Herbert Smith Freehills Electronic Moot Court, Perth's most modern moot court where students try mock cases in a real court environment, and use video satellite technology to compete with Law Schools around the world.

It also houses a 130-seat lecture theatre, tutorial rooms, computer labs, the SCALES community legal centre, Murdoch University legal clinic and The King and Wood Mallesons Law Café.

 
 
2005

Clinical health expansion

Murdoch extends its health offerings, commencing Nursing courses at our brand new Mandurah campus, and opening our Perth Campus Chiropractic Clinic.

Facilities at our Mandurah campus (then called Peel) include a Simulation Room that can be modified as patient rooms or operating theatres, a Simulation Ward including bathrooms, a nursing station, drug, treatment and utility areas, and Control Rooms that allow tutors to program simulations and observe students.

The Chiropractic Clinic offers patient care to the general public and features private treatment rooms, a 160sqm Rehabilitation Gym, Physiological Therapeutics Facility, and Digital Radiographic Suite. Final (fifth) year students manage cases under the supervision of registered supervisors.

 
2005

Banksia Association forms lasting impact

The Banksia Association launches to bring together the continued support of Murdoch Universityís Senate members, Honorary Degree recipients, Professors, Distinguished Alumni, significant donors and senior staff.

The Banksia Association Honours Scholarship is established from 2007, encouraging the university's highest achieving students to continue their education through financial assistance during their Honours years.

 
 
2008

Leading the way with renewables

Murdoch becomes the first university in Australia to switch to 15 per cent GreenPower, and installation of solar panels on the Library roof makes us WA's largest solar grid contributor.

We're recognised as a force for renewable energy, receiving $2m in Federal research funding to convert algae into biofuel this same year. Our Algae Research Group goes on to open a $3.3m algae pilot plant in Karratha in 2010. Murdoch University then hosts the World Renewable Energy Congress in 2013.

 
May 2010

Animal hospital expands

Our world-class $9 million veterinary surgery teaching facilities are completed. The surgery rooms include technology that enables students to view surgical preparations, animal anaesthesia and live procedures.

In addition to 24-hour emergency services in our fully equipped Animal Hospital, which is open to the public, our Veterinary School houses livestock and large animal centres, working Vet Farms, the State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre and other research centres.

 
August 2010

Business opens to the world stage

Our new, modern Murdoch Business School and Murdoch Institute of Technology buildings open on the Perth Campus.

At the Murdoch Business School, undergraduate and postgraduate students undertake executive training for the world of business and public policy. They can also take part in business internships, both domestically and overseas.

Students from around the world come to the Murdoch Institute of Technology (MIT) to take their first steps towards studies at Murdoch University. Their location alongside our Business School enables them to access the University's academic, cultural and social facilities.

 
2010

Collaborations for global pain management

Another collaborative research initiative is formed, when The Centre for Research on Chronic Neuropathic and Pain Inflammatory Diseases launches to discover and deliver better pain management to the global community.

Their biomedical laboratory is housed in our School of Veterinary and Biomedical Science, and clinical research is carried out in our School of Psychology and Exercise Science.

 
2011

Distinguished Alumni recognised

The inaugural Murdoch University Distinguished Alumni Awards is held, recognising and celebrating outstanding professional achievements and services to the community by our exceptional graduates.

With more than 40 years as a leading institution we have a wealth of impressive alumni, from dynamic leaders in politics, business and research to inspiring alumni working tirelessly in the community.

 
 
26 October 2011

World-class Engineering Pilot Plant opens

Our state-of-the-art Engineering and Energy facility opens on the Perth Campus. The $7.5m facility includes an Engineering Pilot Plant - the only one of its kind in Perth, and one of the few at any university in the world.

The world-class equipment and software systems are used for teaching, research and industry application in the fields of physics, nanotechnology, engineering and energy.

 
2012

The big impacts of generous acts

The largest single bequest is received by Murdoch University, gifted by the late Robert Hammond, a retired Beacon farmer. His fund supports "research into mutually advantageous or mutually exploitative relationships between humans and other species of animal."

Since our inception, big-hearted donors have contributed millions of dollars towards development at Murdoch, allowing us to continue our ground-breaking research, facility improvements and pursuit of higher education in scientific and artistic fields.

 
2013

Whitby Falls Farm entrusted to Murdoch

Murdoch University enters into a 42 year lease with the National Trust of Western Australia for the 203 hectare heritage-listed property, Whitby Falls Farm.

The Murdoch University Masterplan establishes Whitby Falls as an integrated working farm, teaching space and research facility, while supporting regional conservation and community engagement.

 
 
2016

Professor Leinonen begins her appointment

Professor Eeva Leinonen is appointed as Vice Chancellor, becoming the first female to hold the role at Murdoch University.

 
2017

Looking to the future

We release our Strategic Plan and Future Horizon for 2017-2027, reinforcing Murdoch University's purpose in the modern world through our 5 year plan and 10 year horizon.

A $5 million Crop Research Hub launches at our Perth Campus. The collaborative research hub and state-of-the-art infrastructure is designed to develop research around productivity and resistance to disease for the national grain industry.

 
August 2017

Environmental institute launches

The Harry Butler Institute is founded in honour of the environmental pioneer, in partnership with global energy provider Chevron. Plans for the Institute include an environmental education centre, volunteer programs and an annual lecture series. The Institute will give students the opportunity to study the field of bioeconomics and will also offer graduates pathways towards employment with Chevron.

 
April 2018

Aboriginal Health and Social Equity research centre opens

We launch Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity, the first centre of its kind in Australia, to address the urgent and complex problems affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Murdoch Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen said the centre “will be pioneering the practical changes that will change the life course of the next generation of Aboriginal youth, and informing key changes to state and national policy, practice and education to support these outcomes”.

July 2018

Myanmar campus announced

We make history as the first Australian university to deliver courses in Myanmar, offering the Master of Business Administration and the Graduate Certificate of Business Administration at Kaplan Myanmar University College in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city and its most important commercial centre.

 
September 2018

First meeting of the Vice Chancellor’s External Advisory Board

The first meeting of the Vice Chancellor’s External Advisory Board is held at the Murdoch University Art Gallery.

Chaired by Australia’s Ambassador to China 2007-2011, Dr Geoff Raby, the External Advisory Board brings together seventeen outstanding national and international business, community and public policy leaders.

These thought leaders will lend their expertise, experience and networks to assist Murdoch University in realising its vision of becoming a truly global institution that provides education and innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.

 
October 2018

National phenome centre launches

The Murdoch-led Australian National Phenome Centre launches, with the goal of transforming the health of millions of Australians and billions more around the world.

ANPC aims to revolutionise the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of serious health challenges like cancer, Alzheimer’s, autism, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

The centre, which brings together all five Western Australian universities along with leading health and medical research institutes, is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere, and will position Western Australia as a global leader in precision medicine.