Major gift: Chair in Criminology

The University of Melbourne has established the Francine V. McNiff Chair in Criminology - a first for the institution - as part of a significant donation of $4 million by former staff member and Magistrate, Ms Francine McNiff.

Prison hallway Professor Alison Young has been appointed in this role.

Ms Francine McNiff passed away in April 2015. She had a high profile career in the Law as the first female Judicial Officer in Victoria. A published author, she retired from her position as a Children's Court Magistrate in 1987.

The Chair forms part of a major bequest from Ms McNiff's estate that also includes the Francine V. McNiff Chair in Human Rights Law, held by Professor Dianne Otto at the Melbourne Law School.

Together, these chairs seek to stand at the forefront of teaching and research in criminal justice and human rights law.

Professor Young said the appointment would enable her to expand the teaching of criminology and foster increased engagement with academics internationally and with the criminal justice profession.

"I'm delighted to hold the inaugural Francine V. McNiff Chair in Criminology," she said.

"I plan to further my research through contributing to public discussions about issues like graffiti and street art, which challenge the regulation of public space in property law and criminal law, and tend to be 'hyper-criminalised' as a result.

"This position also gives me the opportunity to develop the study and teaching of criminology within our Master of Criminology program, in order to make it a leading choice for students across the country and internationally."

Professor Margaret Sheil, the University's Provost said the University was very grateful to receive the gift.

"Ms McNiff's generosity has allowed the University to establish leadership roles in two major areas of public interest," she said.

"While the Chairs in Criminology and Human Rights Law sit in two different faculties, we intend for them to work in collaboration to lead teaching, research and debate on the future of human rights law and criminology in Australia.

"Ms McNiff was a trailblazer for women in her profession. This is one of the largest gifts to the University from a former staff member and we are proud to see these two Chairs support strong female academics who are leaders in their field."

The bequest is part of Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne.