A pivot to Asia

A pivot to Asia


Centre of Southeast Asian Studies founded

The idea of interdisciplinary centres quickly caught on. The new centres reflected the interests and commitments of its founders. They engaged in both research and advocacy; they were ‘centres for’ not simply ‘centres of’. By the end of Ray Martin’s tenure as vice-chancellor  there were 15 centres, researching fields as disparate as migrant studies, child studies, molecular biology and continuing education.

John Legge, Foundation Professor of History

Mr J Mackie and Professor J Legge

Mr Jamie Mackie (left) and Professor John Legge with visitor, former Deputy Prime Minister of Indonesia, Dr Sudjarwo Tjondronegora

A foundation professor should be ‘somewhat pioneering in temperament’, Vice-Chancellor Louis Matheson observed. Newly appointed Foundation Chair of History John Legge aptly fit this description. A graduate of Melbourne  and Oxford Universities, he was a lecturer at the University of Western Australia from 1946-1960. In a letter of recommendation to the Monash hiring committee, fellow academic Max Hartwell wrote, ‘John Legge has the academic experience, the publications, the humour, the toughness, the administrative  ability and the ambition to do the sort of job that will be necessary at Monash.’

In his role as Chair of History, Legge was instrumental in establishing the Monash Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, which he directed from 1964 until 1986. He served as Dean of Arts from 1978 to 1986. His groundbreaking work established Monash as a centre of excellence for Southeast Asian studies.  Following his retirement, Legge continued to contribute to Monash’s academic and educational life.

Legge was awarded many honours during his career, including being elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 1964 and appointed Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988. A new student study space in the Menzies Building is named in his honour.

John Legge died in February 2016.