Sir Douglas Robb (1899-1974)

The Founders


In 1956 John Kavanagh, a senior lecturer in sculpture at the University’s Elam School of Fine Arts, created a bronze bust of Dr Douglas Robb, the founding father of the Auckland Medical School and later to become Chancellor of the University. Robb, who had been knighted in 1960, died in his sleep on 28 April 1974, one day short of his 75th birthday. Six weeks later, incoming Dean David Cole announced that Lady Robb was to donate `a very fine bust’ to sit outside the lecture theatre named in his honour

If Robb was the founding father of the Medical School then Cecil Lewis, appointed as the first Dean in 1965, can be regarded as the midwife. Lewis resigned around the time of Robb’s death and was farewelled at a Faculty meeting on 19 June 1974, having overseen the graduation of the first cohort of Auckland medical students. In 1975 5th year medical student Mark Thomas asked Lewis if he would sit for a bronze bust to be located in the medical school, a project funded by the Auckland University Medical Students’ Association. The bust was housed in the Philson Library for many years but relocated to Old Government House while the Grafton Campus was refurbished. In 2018 it was returned to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, where it sits alongside that of Douglas Robb.

Mark Thomas went on to become an Associate Professor in Molecular Medicine and Pathology at the University of Auckland while three of his classmates currently (2018) occupy chairs – Ian Civil (Surgery), Lesley McCowan (O&G) and Felicity Goodyear-Smith (General Practice).

Cecil Lewis (1918-2006)