Charles Sturt University is celebrating 30 years of paving the way for regional higher education and supporting industry progression within local communities.
Campuses across the state hosted events today to mark Foundation Day.
The Wagga campus alone has grown to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars a year in gross regional product as well as creating more than 2000 direct and indirect jobs, according to CSU's economic impact report.
Retired Associate Professor Geoff Bamberry said the university has brought more people to the Riverina.
"The university has had an impact on the provision of education and training for people of Wagga and the surrounding region," Dr Bamberry said.
"A local institution of higher education has resulted in a significant increase in the number of people with higher education.
"Although many educators are elsewhere for jobs, quite a lot have stayed or returned after a period in metropolitan areas; the university has not only attracted significant numbers of staff to the area but has also attracted other people to the region."
Wagga City Council director of community Janice Summerhayes said the opportunities CSU has contributed since 1989 goes beyond education and employment.
"Council has a memorandum of understanding with the university and that signifies the strong relationship we have in working together on projects, planning and programs," she said.
"One example of this co-operative planning is the new Estella school and sporting precinct.
"There are also many public programs offered through council's cultural facilities, such as the Museum of the Riverina and the Art Gallery, in which CSU is involved."
Additionally, CSU has worked alongside council on the Bomen industrial hub which is projected to capitalise on the inland rail and focus on manufacturing, agribusiness, freight and logistics.
Council general manager Peter Thompson previously told The Daily Advertiser that the university is playing a "pivotal" role in developing good options for the people who live in Wagga and those who come.
"It's great that they're sitting at the table and looking at how they might tailor how their offerings are to the education sector on the back of what industries might be moving out there," he said.
CSU's vice-chancellor Andrew Vann said the presence of the Wagga campus has created vibrancy and the university is constantly looking at ways it can support its surrounds.
"When we think of the future, we want more innovation with business and find industries that will support the region and Wagga in moving forward," Professor Vann said.
"As populations grow, we're working with the local and state governments and looking at the opportunities for new industries; Bomen and AgriTech play a part in that.
"As well as being director of education we're engaging and helping industry to address social problems and support all our cities to grow into the future."
Professor Vann said the university has an "ambitious" plan for growth over the next 30 years.
"We want to bring more research into agriculture and health which are changing, as well as ensuring graduating students are tech savvy," he said.
"The special activation precinct is a good example of that as we're trying to find new ways to create future jobs.
"Thirty years is a long time in the life of a regional city as the whole community grows."
Dr Bamberry has been associated with the university since 1972 and said CSU has adapted to the changing face of tertiary education.
"University is an ongoing process of gradual change over time ... one of the biggest changes was from campus based to cross campus schools," he said.
"In about 1991, Wagga's school of commerce had 45 full-time academics and only about five administrative staff and Bathurst's school of commerce was similar.
"In the years that followed, we saw a change with a much larger group of part-time and casual staff and a smaller full-time component."
More recent examples have included the move to online and distance education, as well as an influx of overseas students.
Merger that started CSU
Three decades ago Charles Sturt University was formed after the Mitchell College of Advanced Education and the Riverina-Murray Institute of Higher Education merged.
The Wagga campus became one of the three foundation campuses of CSU, along with Albury-Wodonga and Bathurst.
However, the history of the Wagga campus dates back to 1892 with the establishment of the Wagga Experiment Farm offering vocational agricultural education.
Retired Associate Professor Geoff Bamberry, in the school of management and marketing, has been connected to the university for 47 years.
"I'm 77 years old and I date back to joining the Riverina college in 1972," Dr Bamberry said. "It has developed from those early days in Turvey Park ... it's grown much bigger than what was ever envisaged."
Dr Bamberry recalled the amalgamation of the colleges to be successful as there was no "strong" pressure to return to the original institutions.
"There was a bit of politics in it and although the senior leadership of the new institution always emphasised it was a decentralised university, it was really only decentralised in the sense of it being in three different locations," he said.
"The actual management and structure was highly centralised ... all the power resided in the new head office based in Bathurst.
"Wagga always thought it would become the head quarters as it is basically in between Bathurst and the Albury campuses but, in the decision-making process, people in Albury felt a bit neglected by Wagga over the years and joined with the Bathurst campus in the fight for the new headquarters."
In late 2017, the former Wagga Teachers College, known as South Campus, was sold by the university to Signature Aged Care Facilities.