Our history

La Trobe has been one of Australia's pioneering universities for almost 50 years. Discover our unique history, including our motto and coat of arms.

Celebrating 50 years of history

In 1967, 552 students enrolled at La Trobe University, the third university to open in Victoria, which has grown to accommodate more than 36,000 students, with over 7,000 international students from 110 countries.

We now have a network of campuses, with over 26,000 students at our Melbourne Campus and over 7,500 at our campuses in Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo, Mildura, Melbourne City (Collins Street and Franklin Street), Shepparton and Sydney.

2017 marks 50 years of La Trobe University, and we’ll be celebrating, with current students and alumni sharing their La Trobe stories; cultural and environmental projects; reunions, and more.

Past Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors

La Trobe University's commitment to teaching excellence has been overseen by some truly inspirational people – leaders who have shaped the University, and the lives of the thousands of students who have attended La Trobe over the past five decades.

Past Chancellors Past Vice-Chancellors
Sir Archibald Glenn OBE:  1967 - 1972 David Myers: 1965 - 1976                         
Hon Mr Justice Reginald Smithers:  1972-1980 John Scott: 1977 - 1989
Hon Mr Justice Richard McGarvie:  1980-1992 Michael Osborne: 1990 - 2006
Emeritus Professor Nancy F Millis AC:  1992-2006 Brian Stoddart: 2006
Dr Sylvia Walton AO:  2006 – 2011 Paul Johnson: 2007 - 2011

University name

La Trobe University was named after Charles Joseph La Trobe, the first Superintendent of the Port Phillip District from 1839 to 1850 and first Lieutenant-Governor of the new colony of Victoria from 1851 to 1854.  He was a man driven by his need to make a difference to the communities he served, leaving a legacy that continues today at La Trobe University.

Sir Charles La Trobe did more to shape the Australian State of Victoria than any other man. From his love of the Australian environment and its conservation, his ambitious plan to transform the colony of Victoria, to his concern for the welfare of the first Australians, he was a man deeply driven by progressive social values.

His values are echoed in La Trobe University's founding mission to serve the community through improving access of higher education, and it is a tradition that continues today with a range of programs and initiatives to increase higher education participation rates amongst Victoria's disadvantaged communities.

More information on Charles La Trobe (PDF 120KB).

La Trobe University Coat of Arms

La Trobe University's Armorial Bearings combine significant symbols that encapsulate its history, goals and pride in its Victorian genesis.

Australia is represented by the Australian wedge-tailed eagle, one of the world's largest eagles. Victoria is represented by the sprigs of heath, the state’s floral emblem.

The open book refers to the University's commitment to learning. The scallop shells are part of the La Trobe family bearings, and have been included to acknowledge the La Trobe name.

University motto

The French motto "Qui cherche trouve" (Whoever seeks shall find) is a modern version of the La Trobe family motto.

Today La Trobe is renowned for its academic excellence and research achievements.

Over 170,000 students have graduated from La Trobe University thus far, and have gone on to achieve great things in all walks of life, giving La Trobe its well-deserved reputation.