Late, great Hoadley continues to inspire

One of the boldest visions to transform Melbourne’s west continues to strengthen the region 100 years after its conception. 

Victoria University is reinforcing the values behind Arch Hoadley’s inspirational vision for education a century after Footscray Technical School, VU’s foundation institute, opened in 1916.

Hoadley, a celebrated Antarctic explorer who served as the School’s first Principal, saw education as a transformative power that could develop the working-class west of Melbourne economically, culturally and intellectually.

Under Hoadley’s 30-year leadership, Footscray Technical School grew in stature to become the region’s first secondary school, originally just for boys but later for girls as well.

The School challenged expectations that it should offer only basic trades training that would see its students accept their lot in life as unskilled factory workers. Instead, Hoadley offered a liberal arts curriculum that included civics, sport and music, turning out well-rounded graduates who could enhance their communities.

The son of Arch Hoadley, Jack, said his father insisted that students strive for the highest standards of personal performance, regardless of their upbringing.

“His vision was for his students to be raised out of the ranks of unskilled labourers and become leaders in some way in their professions, businesses or trades,” Jack said.

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins said present-day VU, whose Nicholson Street Campus is on the site of Hoadley’s original school, has built on the idea that education can change lives and transform communities.

“We are as committed today as Arch Hoadley was a century ago to helping students from diverse backgrounds find success and make strong contributions to industry and community,” Professor Dawkins said.    

“The western region is becoming widely renowned as a hub of creativity and innovation in addition to its already strong reputation as a cultural mecca where people with rich diversity come to live, work and learn together.”

Professor Dawkins said today’s Victoria University – which is among Australia’s most culturally diverse tertiary institutions and contains a very high proportion of students who are first in their families to go to university – maintains Hoadley’s ethos of growing opportunity and success for people from all walks of life.

Opportunities to be involved in Victoria University’s Centenary celebrations are available through a series of events being held over the coming months.

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