Francine V. McNiff – A Monash Scholarship story

Francine V. McNiff – A Monash Scholarship story


– It’s very hard to say what Francine wanted her legacy to be. I don’t know that she really
gave it much thought, really. I think she was thinking that, “How can I help students who actually need help?” I met Francine at Monash, I think she started probably ’66. She was a couple of years behind us. Francine didn’t suffer fools. She was straight to the point. – She was very proper, very dry, witty, and super smart. Super bright and sharp. Incredible person,
frankly, and I was lucky, very lucky to have know her,
and to have learned from her. – Francine McNiff was
a trailblazer in law, both in law schools, and also in the legal
profession more broadly. She had a particular
expertise in juvenile justice. She was one of our alumna,
and she was also a lecturer here in the law school,
teaching in Criminal Law. She was the first female
magistrate appointed in Victoria at the age of 35 years,
and she became the first Monash law graduate to be
appointed to that office. – I think law was Francine’s
one and only passion, and she was my go-to lawyer. I used to brief her, and
we’d have lunch together during a trial or something,
and lunch would consist, for her, of black lemon tea and a smoke or two. That was it. Don’t know
how she survived on that. She used to say that she never
knew how to spell “civil”, or it didn’t exist. The only law, so far as she was
concerned, was criminal law. – She had a way about her that she would, if you’d send her some correspondence, she would literally typewrite. She didn’t have a computer,
and she would typewrite her responses on the
correspondence you sent her. Wouldn’t hand write them, just type, and then fax them back to us. – And, I think I’ve
still got the fax here, and it says that basically, when she dies, she wants the obituary notice to read, “I have ceased to exist.” Blew me away, and that’s what I put into the newspapers when she died. “I have ceased to exist.” Extraordinary. And, also on her tombstone.
“I have ceased to exist.” But you know, when you
think about it, she hasn’t. Quite the contrary. With
these magnificent bequests, she will live on for a long, long time. – To Monash University,
Francine has bequested a chair in criminal jurisprudence, and a huge scholarship fund for postgraduate study in criminology. – So having a named
chair that will be named “The Francine V. McNiff Chair
in Criminal Jurisprudence” allows us to do a number of things. First of all, it’s a
legacy honouring Francine. The second thing is that
over the more than 50 years of our history, we’ve
had a proud tradition in criminal law and
criminal jurisprudence, so to have a named chair,
which is very attractive in the international academic community, for someone who can come
to maintain and enhance what we do in criminal law
and criminal jurisprudence is a tremendous boon for the faculty, as it launches into its next 50 years. – Francine wanted to support
excellent postgraduate students in having the opportunity
to undertake further study, to pursue their passions and interests in the field of criminology, and to be supported in doing so. Because some of our very best and brightest students
are not in a position to be able to afford postgraduate study. This scholarship, the Francine
V. McNiff Scholarship, will make that possible. – She would shy away from the spotlight, shy away from thanks. That’s not what she was doing it for. – She, uh, very private person, but with a very public legacy. – This is the single most
important contribution the faculty has received
in being able to position where we’re taking criminal
law and jurisprudence over the next 20 years, and it
will flow into our education, our research, our clinical activities. Francine McNiff’s legacy
here is going to be enduring. – We thank Francine for
prioritising students, and we believe her legacy will live on through the great work that the students and colleagues will undertake here, as part of the scholarships
that she has left to Monash, and we will look after her legacy, and ensure that those students
are able to go forward and transform communities and lives in just the way that
Francine did, herself.

One thought on “Francine V. McNiff – A Monash Scholarship story

  1. Aproximatly 16 yrs ago Francine Mc niff represented me in a supreme court trial as my barrister I was absolutely blessed to have her She asked me a question in her ofice one morning I gave her my answer and it was never bought up again After my trial Wich she had won she quietly handed me afolded a4 piece of paper It had one typed sentance Wich read Thanks to you roses body was not discarded or discraced .
    Francine Mc Niff you were truly amazing ohhh and in your own words " as tough as old BOOTS " I will never forget you R.I.P BEAUTIFUL LADY xo

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