From the Paddock to the Agora

Some of La Trobe University’s most celebrated staff and alumni have come together to create a memorable book to mark the university’s 50th anniversary.

From the Paddock to the Agora – Fifty Years of La Trobe University features personal and candid essays from six commissioned authors, as well as a collection of iconic photos and images.

Contributors include author and speechwriter Don Watson; historian, author and broadcaster Clare Wright; public intellectual Robert Manne; writer and political commentator Dennis Altman; scientist Marilyn Anderson; and Bendigo Honorary Associate Penny Davies.

La Trobe Vice Chancellor Professor John Dewar said he gave the writers complete freedom to tell their own stories.

“From the onset, I made it clear I wanted them to write without any fear that their views would be censored by the university,” Professor Dewar said.

“The book is not a rose-coloured view of our history. Nor should it be.  It would have been easy to produce a book celebrating only our achievements.

“I’m grateful to each of my co-authors for their honesty in acknowledging the more complex periods in our history, as well as the good times. They have done a brilliant job in evoking our past as well as the present.”

Built on paddocks north of Melbourne, La Trobe opened its doors to students on 8 March 1967. The university was established to provide access to educational opportunities for all members of the community. Today, the Agora is the heart of the Bundoora campus - a meeting place for students and staff, and La Trobe continues its tradition of combining world-class research with an inclusive university community.

From the Paddock to the Agora – Fifty Years of La Trobe University will be launched by ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly, a former student activities officer at La Trobe, on Sunday, 5 March at the La Trobe Lawn lunch – an event that will kick start the university’s 50th birthday celebrations.

As part of the launch, Ms Kelly will host a discussion with some of the authors, including Dennis Altman and Clare Wright.

“After a turbulent youth, and a sometimes troubled young adulthood, La Trobe is now a remarkably healthy fifty year old,” Mr Altman writes in the book.

Clare Wright said: “Contributing to this book was a remarkable opportunity to reflect on my lifelong association with La Trobe: the good, the bad, the intellectual, the emotional and the downright fun. It’s a special place.”

From the Paddock to the Agora – Fifty Years of La Trobe University is the first book published by La Trobe University Press – a publishing partnership between La Trobe University and Black Inc.

During 2017, La Trobe University Press will publish six to eight titles in 2017 in both print and electronic formats, giving scholars across Australia the opportunity to address some of the most fundamental questions of our time, and bringing scholarly works to a general audience.

For tickets and details visit