A rich history

With a history spanning over 180 years, Arts, Design & Architecture (ADA) traces its roots back to the establishment of The Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts in 1833. was founded 116 years later in 1949. From those early beginnings, a bold vision emerged with the establishment of the first three faculties of the university– Architecture, Engineering and Science in 1950.

In the decades since, significant milestones have seen the faculty continue to evolve. In 1959, the creation of the Faculty of Arts underscored the institution's commitment to fostering creativity. The subsequent introduction of the Fine Arts curriculum in 1990 solidified the role of art and culture as essential components of a holistic education. In 2014, College of Fine Arts transformed its name to Art & Design with the purpose of acknowledging its commitment to the breadth of contemporary creativity.

Today, the faculty comprises of six diverse schools, Built Environment, Education, Humanities & Languages, Social Sciences, Art & Design and Arts & Media. This expansion reflects the changing educational landscape. ADA encourages alumni to approach challenges with creativity, collaboration and inclusion to improve life on earth.

100K Alumni
Across 70+ years of ADA
118K Degrees
Awarded to alumni
127 Countries
Make up our global community
"I never get tired of learning about the great contributions that ADA alumni are making - in so many professions and in multiple countries across the world. And it was four current ADA students who brought this alumni project to life. I'm grateful for their work and vision as we celebrate this 100k milestone together."
Professor Claire Annesley, Dean, Arts, Design & Architecture
100K alumni and counting

Use the interactive histogram below to track the total number of alumni who have joined our ADA community across each decade. Starting with 25 graduates in the 1950s to celebrating 100,000 alumni in 2023. What might our numbers look like by 2050?

Description: Pictured above is a histogram displaying the total number of alumni who have joined our community across each decade.

Alumni stories

Meet some of the alumni who have embodied Arts, Design & Architecture's mission to improve life on earth. They have generously shared their journey from student to alum and how their time at university shaped them personally and professionally.

Craig Kerslake: Designing from Country

Bachelor of Arts 1998
Bachelor of Architecture 2006

Drawing upon the knowledge of his ancestors, Craig’s designs encapsulate Indigenous narratives and culture. Craig is taking the art of architecture to new realms, one that is devoted to creating buildings that serve their communities and foster connections.

Del Kathryn Barton: Trusting the process

Bachelor of Fine Arts 1993

Del is a celebrated Australian visual artist. After honing her craft for over 25 years, she's now making her mark in the world of film with her debut feature film Blaze.

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran: Rebellion

Bachelor of Fine Arts/Arts (Honours Class 1) 2012
Masters in Fine Arts (Research) 2014

Ramesh is a globally renowned artist and a sought-after lecturer at ’s School of Art & Design. As a young artist, Ramesh carried a deep longing to witness South Asian artists being celebrated independently. Now for many, he is the representation he always longed for.

Kodie Mason: Strengthening communities

Bachelor of Social Research & Policy (Indigenous Studies) 2023

Kodie grew up witnessing and experiencing the effects of policy, now Kodie is continuing the work of community leaders before her, preserving Indigenous culture and knowledge.

Alisa Tian: Interpreting more than words

Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics & Advanced Chinese Studies) 2008
Master of Philosophy (Knowledges and Ethical Practices) 2022
Current PhD Candidate

Meet Alisa Tian, a linguist, SBS interpreter and passionate educator, whose experiences at have helped her to reimagine the role of language in shaping our culture and society.

Dr Na’ama Carlin: Shaping minds

Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) Social Sciences & Policy 2011
PhD Social Sciences 2016

Dr Na'ama Carlin is a devoted educator in the School of Social Sciences. Her proudest moments are when she witnesses her students excelling in their passions.

Maya Skidmore: Stories that matter

Bachelor of Media Communications (Journalism) 2021
Bachelor of International Studies 2021

Maya has lived most of her life feeling she had a foot in two worlds, now a writer and journalist she’s working to uplift alienated voices and share their stories.

Bernard Cheng: Orchestrating change

Bachelor of Education 1999
Juris Doctor 2018

Bernard’s chance encounter with his high school music teacher set him on a path to become one of the youngest school principals in NSW history.

Kieran Butler: A patchwork of authenticity

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography (Honours) 2014

Kieran knew the move from their small town to Sydney would be a make or break moment for them. Now a working artist with an evolving practice, they are creating work that sends an important message to communities.

Cushla McFadden: A decade of design innovation

Bachelor of Interior Architecture 2011

Cushla possessed a deep appreciation for the natural world from a young age. Now, as a co-founder of an award-winning interior design studio, Cushla hopes for a design future where diversity, equal opportunity, and Indigenous representation will be of the utmost priority.

Mohini Herse: A new generation storyteller

Bachelor of Media (Media Production) 2012

Mohini found her passion for film in the ritual trips to the local video rental store with her family. Now she’s using the medium of film to shed light on often untold narratives.

Sharan Burrow: A lifetime of fighting for justice

Bachelor of Arts 1975
Diploma of Education 1976
Doctor of Letters 2022

Sharan is a globally recognised union leader whose 35 years of service has made immeasurable contributions to workers’ rights. Instead of slowing down, Sharan is now focusing on climate justice, working towards a sustainable future.

A global community

Diverse and united, no matter where you are in the world, you’re part of a strong network of people advancing knowledge, building industry and making the world a better place. Use the interactive map below to explore where in the world our ADA alumni are living and find out how many alumni are near you.

Description: Pictured above is a map displaying the latest known location of our alumni.

Being part of this network will provide you with unique opportunities throughout your career and we’d love to come on this journey with you. Explore the many ways you can connect below.

Get involved

Be part of Arts, Design & Architecture's alumni celebrations and share your story. Together, we're shaping a brighter future.

Discover more of our Arts, Design & Architecture alumni who are pushing boundaries, tackling problems and creating lives with purpose.

Lives with purpose

ADA students who contributed to this project: Mario Flores Gonzalez (data visualisations), Alvin Zhu (videography), Ava Lacoon-Robinson (copywriting and profile transcription) and Oliver Ashby (music).