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Largest Philanthropic gift to Monash by former law student

Over $3m donated to University in Melbourne.

Monash University has received one of its largest ever gifts from the estate of highly respected lawyer and Monash alumna Francine V McNiff, who donated $3.72 million to the University.

Francine, who died in April 2015, left instructions for her own death notice which simply stated:

“I have ceased to exist – Francine.”

Ironically, she will now live on through the establishment of two significant legacies in her name.

Monash President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner said that Francine’s remarkable legacy would endure through the exceptional scholarship and educational opportunities funded by her bequest.

“It is a wonderful honour for Monash that such a significant figure in the field of law, Francine McNiff, would donate her estate to the University,” Professor Gardner said.

“Francine was a deeply inspiring figure for a great many in the legal profession. Her gift allows Monash to celebrate her contributions through a new Chair in Criminal Jurisprudence, as well as providing our most deserving students the opportunity to pursue their study of criminology at the postgraduate level.

The Francine McNiff Chair in Criminal Jurisprudence ($2 million) will be established within the Faculty of Law at Monash University.

Professor Bryan Horrigan, Dean, Faculty of Law, said the Chair will be of great significance to the Faculty.

“As we look to strengthen our expertise in the field of criminal jurisprudence, the Chair will be an inspiring educator, conducting leading-edge research and drawing together our researchers and educators already working in this field,” Professor Horrigan said.

The Francine V McNiff Scholarship Fund ($1.72 million) will be available to candidates from both the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Arts and will provide financial support for the duration of the recipient’s post-graduate study.

Professor Sharon Pickering, Dean, Faculty of Arts said: “Francine’s legacy will live on through this gift which will change the lives of individual students, and the communities that these students will seek to transform.”

As a ground-breaking lawyer, Francine’s contribution to the Victorian legal profession was significant. In 1983, aged 35, she became the first female judicial officer in Victoria having been appointed Children’s Court Stipendiary Magistrate, also making her the State’s youngest judicial officer.

Executors of her Will, Ron and Brett Tait were among those closest to Francine.

“The law was Francine’s life. She would be thrilled to know she was making a real difference to a lot of people,” Ron Tait said.

 

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