Graduates of the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education can be found across the world. This year marks half a century since 'the institute' was established.
STEP into any professional office, school or medical facility in Warrnambool and you can almost guarantee you'll find a graduate of 'the institute'.
It's been almost 30 years since the Warrnambool Advanced Institute of Education morphed into Deakin University but its influence is widespread across the region.
Plans for its 50th anniversary this year are underway with a celebration booked in for the last weekend in October.
Many nurses, teachers, accountants and business people were educated at the institute and have gone on to be leaders in their fields around the world.
The institute operated for 20 years from 1970 to 1990 and offered undergraduate and postgraduate courses in aquaculture, arts, business, nursing, municipal engineering, applied science and teaching.
In 1990 it merged with Deakin University and its Warrnambool campus was born.
Well known Warrnambool educator Pat Varley said the institute was established in response to residents calling out for a tertiary education provider for the region in the 1960s.
Then-mayor Pat O'Sullivan called a public meeting of interested citizens to form a committee to prepare a case for improved education options in the city.
The South Western District University Investigation Committee was formed and it lobbied for a uni to be established.
Warrnambool man Perc Moore joined the committee and the group's submission for a university was rejected because of a lack of facilities. The committee was not deterred and Mr Moore penned a lengthy poem.
The opening verses were:
I'll tell you an 'eartmovin' story
About our fair city's adversity
When government set up committee
To investigate third university.
A meeting was called by our mayor,
(a stout 'earted fellow was Patrick)
Said 'e "with 'igh school and Tech. College
I think we should go for the 'at-trick.
So committee was formed at the meeting
(of people of chosen diversity)
To make out a case for the gov'ment
In hopes that we'd get university.
Dr Varley, a foundation member of staff at the institute and later the chair of the academic board during negotiations to merge the institute and Deakin, recalled "well, we didn't get a university".
"It was all against the odds and it was since it started," she said.
However, in 1965 the government established the Victorian Institute of Colleges (VIC) and the committee renewed its efforts.
Finally in July 1969 the tertiary section of Warrnambool Technical College was affiliated with the VIC as the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education.
"Student enrolment grew rapidly from 170 in 1970 to more than 900 in 1975," she said.
"In 1988 there were more than 3000 enrolled students."
Dr Varley said the relocation from the technical college's Timor Street premises (now South West TAFE) to Deakin's current location at Sherwood Park on the Princes Highway took place in stages, with the full transfer completed by 1984.
She led the charge in bringing international students to the campus.
"Overseas students have always been a part of it," she said.
Highly regarded Warrnambool photographer and former Sinclair Wilson chairman Perry Cho was one of those students.
If you haven't had your tax done by Mr Cho, you would have seen his images.
He arrived in Warrnambool in 1971 and was among the second group of international students to arrive.
Legendary associate professor John Sherwood came from Sydney to teach at the institute.
The leading researcher is currently investigating if a shell deposit at Warrnambool's Moyjil site, also known as Point Ritchie, dated at close to 120,000 years old, has a human origin.
If it does, it will re-write the history of habitation on the planet as it would demonstrate Australia's Indigenous people were living among mega fauna about 60,000 years earlier than the currently accepted date of arrival of people on the continent.
"The institute was a draw card for Warrnambool," Dr Varley said. "(Children's author) Paul Jennings was once a lecturer as well."
Not all who studied at the institute have followed on with their academic pursuits.
One former student said his time at the campus led him to find his future job.
The farm boy moved from the Hamilton district to study accounting in the early '70s.
"I lived in a share house in Moore Street," he said. "We had a party one night and purchased a keg of beer. The keg was gone within an hour and I thought 'hang on, I could make a quid here'."
He moved back to the family farm to save up some money to purchase his first hotel and has now been a successful western district publican for the past 30 years.
Deakin's Warrnambool campus director Alistair McCosh has come full circle.
He was a student at the institute in its final year.
He said he had a great time studying at the campus and developed friendships with students from all over Australia who chose Warrnambool.
"The campus to me hasn't changed a lot in that I got to know many of my lecturers and it had a real sense of community which I still believe exists today," he said.
"I can remember the crossover from WIAE to Deakin but as a young student I didn't really consider this as too big a deal. Reflecting on it now in my current role it would have been a significant event for all of the staff working here at the time.
"I was fortunate to undertake a study abroad trip to the Soviet Union which was led by Ross Price which was an amazing experience and one which sparked my desire to work abroad.
"I completed a Bachelor of Arts and then did my Diploma of Education before heading off to London to teach for several years. Deakin really was a pioneer in giving students an opportunity to explore the world and one of the key opportunities that still exist for all our students today with over 150 different destinations to choose from if they wish to explore the world.
Deakin's community relations manager Geraldine Moloney said the campus was still often fondly referred to as "the institute".
"We are hoping we can get as many students back for the celebrations as we can," she said. "There is a staff time capsule which we hope to open and reveal what's inside."
An alumni networking event is scheduled for Friday, October 25 from 5pm to 6.30pm.
Ex-students can join their fellow alumni for drinks, canapés, and a chance for an informal evening the day before the main event at the Brother Fox Bar at the Deakin campus.
An alumni reunion lunch will be held on Saturday, October 26 from noon to 3pm. The event includes a delicious buffet lunch and refreshments, memorabilia displays and guest speakers.
It will be held at the Brother Fox cafeteria at the campus and is free to attend.
Anyone who is interested in attending the events or who has any photographs or memorabilia from the institute is encouraged to register their details by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to receive further information.
A webpage at deakin.edu.au/WIAE50 has details of events.