Australian Catholic University is this week celebrating the 60th anniversary of its Signadou campus in Canberra, paying tribute to the Dominican Sisters whose commitment to education for women, by women, empowered generations of students.
The Signadou Dominican College of Education was officially opened in 1963 by then prime minister, Sir Robert Menzies. The vision was simple: to create an environment where women had the freedom and opportunity to teach and learn from one another.
The Dominican sisters included First Nations women in this journey, embracing diversity and inclusion as integral elements of their educational philosophy.
Against the backdrop of the late 1950s and early 1960s, a time when women still struggled to receive an education in many parts of the world, the Dominican Sisters paved the way for generations of women to access higher education.
In the first year, 19 students graduated, and the college became a major provider of primary school teachers for Canberra and beyond.
Over the years, it has expanded to include research institutes and centres, while also offering courses in education and many other disciplines, including social work, nursing, paramedicine, midwifery and theology.
The college was one of four Catholic tertiary institutions that contributed to the creation of ACU in 1991, playing an instrumental role in laying the foundations for the university.
ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Zlatko Skrbis said the milestone celebrated a legacy of transformative education that had shaped lives and communities.
“The spirit of the visionary women who founded Signadou continues to resonate through our institution, inspiring us to uphold their commitment to knowledge, service, and empowerment,” Professor Skrbis said.