Book reveals the vibrant early days of Fenner Hall

9 January 2015

Fenner was great in its opening days, there was an incredible energy. It was an amazingly vibrant place.

A new book reveals how one of Australia’s most prominent military officers was instrumental in forming Fenner Hall’s community and culture in its formative years.

After retiring from successful military career, Dr Colonel Reginald Gardner decided to pursue his interest in classics, enrolling first in an undergraduate in classics at ANU before completing a PhD.

“Fenner was great in its opening days, there was an incredible energy. It was an amazingly vibrant place,” said the book’s author Assistant Professor David Munns.

Dr Gardner and Munns met in 1991 while both were residing at John XXIII College. They moved to Fenner Hall during its first year of full operation under Dr George Watt.

Munns believes that Dr Gardner played a significant role in developing the culture at Fenner as a Senior Fellow.

“Reg always maintained that there were certain standards, and cultural traditions that should be maintained in a University college that gave it its intellectual heart.”

Assistant Professor Munns, now at the City University of New York, returned this week to donate a copy of the late Dr Gardner’s memoirs to Fenner Hall.

Dr Gardner is chiefly remembered as a decorated member of Australia’s armed forces, serving in WWII, Korea, as well as Vietnam, where he commanded the Australian artillery regiments between 1966 and 1967.

“He was a very significant member of the Australian military of the last 50 years,” Assistant Professor Munns said.

Fenner Hall's current Head of Residence, Dr Jasmine Jury, said “It is wonderful to learn more about Dr Gardner, who was such an influence on the development of the Fenner Hall community in its early years."

“It was also a great way to start 2015, with a visit from an Alumni who was amongst the first residents here.

“While some details of day-to-day Hall life have changed over the years, David’s descriptions of the Fenner spirit and ethos as he experienced in the 1990s still hold true today.

“Reg would have been proud of the current day Fenner Hall community spirit,” she said.

The Cannon of Learning: Reginald John Gardner's story is available online through Amazon books or at Angus & Robertson.