Battle of wits: students took on academics in a great debate to raise funds for the Godfrey Tanner Memorial Scholarship.

Godfrey Tanner Great Debate

Students take on academics in battle of wits

Maturity and wisdom prevailed with the academics beating the students in the inaugural Godfrey Tanner Great Debate. It was a night of hilarity, wit and fun with 190 staff, students and community members turning out to watch the debate in the GT Bar on Callaghan campus on 18 March        

                           GT Great Debate winners

The event was in honour of the well-known University of Newcastle Classics lecturer and eccentric, the late Emeritus Professor Godfrey Tanner. Godfrey, who passed away in 2002, was well known to many alumni, was often seen riding his bicycle around campus with his academic robes flowing behind him or sitting reading Winnie the Pooh out aloud to students in the bar.

And although the academics took home the coveted gold cup, the student team certainly gave them a run for their money in the debating stakes.

Putting their reputation on the line were academics and alumni Felicity Biggins, Professor Steve Fityus, Dr Gary Ellem and Partrick Filmer-Sankey. Lining up for the students team was Elyse Hudson, Joseph Bates, Ryan Liddle and Raelene Monahan.

Up for debate was the topic 'In the 21st century the role of a university education is to make students job ready.' The academics won the toss of the coin and elected to be the affirmative.

According to Felicity Beggins the academics took a tongue-in-cheek stance in their argument. "We argued that we are all cogs in the machine to keep the capitalist society ticking over."

The debate was also a fundraiser for the Godfrey Tanner Memorial Scholarship, which funds an annual $3,000 scholarship to assist students who are starting their university studies and are facing hardship. The scholarship was established Professor Tanner himself, but is now supported by donations from alumni, university staff, students and the community.

Close personal friend of Godfrey Tanner, Dr Bernie Curran said Godfrey devoted the greater part of his life to the University of Newcastle supporting students.

"Godfrey was incredibly generous to students who had suffered setbacks. No doubt the spirit of the late Godfrey Tanner was watching this debate with great satisfaction, as he loved debating. I suspect however, he was barracking for the students to win," Dr Curran said.

Anyone interested in making a donation to the Godfrey Tanner Memorial Scholarship Fund can contact the University of Newcastle Foundation on 02 4921 7453.

Dr Bernie Curran hosts the Godfrey Tanner Great Debate - academics v students.