A new scholarship has been launched to remember the great contribution made to teaching English as a second language by Dr Kate McPherson, whose life was sadly cut short by motor-neurone disease in 2007.
Dr McPherson was highly regarded for her academic leadership in this area and for her compassionate approach to her students.
She left her estate to fund a postgraduate scholarship in Education specifically for women from Fiji.
Before her death, Dr McPherson had expressed a desire through her estate to support the study in Australia of women from Fiji who are graduates of the University of the South Pacific where she had worked.
Dr McPherson’s desire to support women from the Fijian Islands stemmed from her deep affection for the country and its people, gained while working in the University in Suva and her wish to foster connections with Tasmania.
Her hope was that such opportunity would assist Fijian women to overcome some of the limitations that poverty, political instability and gender place on educational and career opportunities in the region.
Her career had taken her from her native England to many parts of the world, teaching and working in adult migrant education and English as a second language programs, before her final role lecturing in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the University of Tasmania.
The Trustees of Dr McPherson’s estate and the UTAS Foundation have established a trust fund in her name to create a generous perpetual scholarship to allow students from Fiji to come to Tasmania to undertake their postgraduate studies. The first student is expected to arrive in February 2012.
Dr Sue Boyd, former Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, is one of the trustees. Dr Boyd said she was a great friend of Kate’s, who she met while working in Fiji. She said Kate was “much loved” by her friends and colleagues there.
“We are hugely grateful to the University,” she said.
“We need to raise $70,000 by the end of this year- and we’ve already had 10,000 donated.”
Trustee Dr Val Nicholls said “It suddenly dawned on me today, at last I’m free- I can really feel inside, when I think about Kate, all the great stuff. This is really her enduring legacy.”
The Trustees have launched an appeal to seek donations to the capital of the scholarship so that it will be available in perpetuity, and students receiving the scholarship can be better supported while in Tasmania.
The UTAS Foundation will match donations until the end of 2011.
UTAS Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen said, “in one sense, we are marking the death of Kate McPherson. In another sense, we are celebrating her life, what she thought was important and what she wanted to achieve.
“Kate was an excellent teacher and a committed educator. She was well-regarded for her compassionate approach to her students and for her general approach to education and life,” he said.
“We are delighted to develop our links with Fiji by way of this scholarship.”
Photo: Friend of Dr Kate McPherson and one of the trustees of her estate, Dr Sue Boyd, explains the goal to raise $70,000 by the end of 2011 to support the Kate McPherson Scholarship in Education.