Cheryl Saunders Scholarship launched

Melbourne Law School has had the privilege of its rich history and teaching and learning environment being shaped by leading figures in the law.

Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders AO

Few have played such an influential role as Laureate Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders AO (BA 1966 Arts, LLB (Hons) 1966, PhD Law 1976), whose contribution was acknowledged with the launch of the Cheryl Saunders Scholarship fund last month.

The Cheryl Saunders Scholarship fund will be used to support students enrolled at Melbourne Law School who have demonstrated both academic merit and financial need.

Speaking at the launch, Professor Saunders said such initiatives help to ensure talented people benefit from a legal education at MLS.

“My hope is that these scholarships will enable an increasingly diverse range of talented people with an interest in law to experience the high quality of legal education that Melbourne Law School offers.”

Dean Professor Carolyn Evans said Professor Saunders has long been an inspiration to MLS students.

“The first female professor at the Law School, Cheryl has an extraordinary intellect, which was deepened in the Australian legal system and then took on an extraordinary breadth.

“Her knowledge of comparative law and the constitutional and common law system in a huge variety of other countries is, in my experience, simply unsurpassed.

“She has blazed a trail for other aspiring female academics and we are all in her debt for demonstrating the significant contribution that women can make to the academy and to public life. She is so relentless in her pursuit of excellence for herself and for the institution of the Law School, which she so loves, that she simply raises the bar for all of us,” she said.

Professor Michael Crommelin AO said Professor Saunders’ achievements as a scholar, teacher and institution builder are prodigious.

“She has the esteem and affection of legions of students, past and present, inspired by her unrivalled appreciation of public law and unwavering pursuit of better government.

“With imagination, enthusiasm, skill and flair, she makes a significant contribution to the intellectual energy of MLS,” he said.

The launch of the Cheryl Saunders Scholarship comes at a time when MLS achieved the ambitious aim to endow the Harold Ford Scholarship fund in perpetuity. This achievement is all thanks to the generosity of donors.

Donor to the Harold Ford Scholarship The Hon David Habersberger QC (BA(Hons) 1969, LLB(Hons) 1971), says such initiatives help talented people who may not be able to study law otherwise.

“I think that if you are in a position to relieve some of the pressures facing young people today, then you should.”

The former MLS Judge In Residence says he feels fortunate to be able to do so. “I’ve had a wonderful career and a lot of benefits from that and I think it behoves us to give back.”

Nyadol and Cheryl

Ms Nyadol Nyuon and Laureate Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders AO

Melbourne JD graduate and commercial litigator at Arnold Bloch Liber Nyadol Nyuon said attending the Law School “radically changed” her life. “At Melbourne I was challenged and changed a lot. I was pushed to believe that excellence was something within my reach, no matter where I came from.”

Ms Nyuon grew up in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and from an early age dreamed of becoming a lawyer. After coming to Australia at the age of 18 as part of Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian programme, she went on to receive scholarship support that made it possible for her to pursue studies at MLS.

She said her story is an example of how transformative scholarship support can be for students in financial need.

“What such scholarships represent, at least to me, is the possibility that another child in another refugee camp, with big, impossible dreams like mine, may be able to make their big, impossible dreams come true.”

By Liz Banks-Anderson and Roselina Press