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Vale Professor John Legge AO

Published 10 Feb 2016

We are deeply saddened by the death on 4 February of one of the Institute’s great contributors, Professor John Legge AO.

John Legge had a life-long involvement in the AIIA, first joining as a member in 1947. He had a long and distinguished service on the Council of the AIIAV, including as President from 1963-1966. John’s genuine love of the Institute saw him involved in many aspects of its development over the decades, and he was highly regarded for both his institutional and academic knowledge, and for his considerable wisdom. He also provided intelligent mentorship for Council and Committee members.

In recognition of his services to the AIIAV, the library was named in his honour, and he was made a Life Member in 1999. He was also a Friend of the AIIA.

In addition to his branch commitments, John was very active at the national level, including as Chair of the Research Committee from 1973 – 1978. He also authored a book on the history of the Institute, Australian Outlook, which was published in 1999.

In 2012, the Australian Institute of International Affairs awarded him a Fellowship ‘for his distinguished contribution to academia and public understanding of South-East Asia’.

As a young man, John enlisted for war service in 1944, working first with the Directorate of Research LHQ but then embarked for New Guinea with the ‘policy advice bureau’ HQ AMF School of Civil Affairs on detachment to Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit. John is a graduate (BA) of Melbourne University and an Oxford PhD, and was a Reader at Melbourne University in 1959.

John’s main research and teaching interests were the history of modern Indonesian and historiography. He was appointed the foundation Chair of History at Monash University in 1960 and served in that position until 1977. From 1978 to 1986 he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts. In 1964 he founded the Monash Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, serving as its chair until 1977. From 1969-70 he was Director of the Singapore Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. From 1987-93 he was an Executive Member on the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board.

John was elected to the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 1964 and was recently appointed a Jubilee Fellow. In 1988 he was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia. The citation reads: ‘For service to education, particularly in the field of Asian Studies and international relations’.

A service is being held at 2pm on Friday 12 February at the Religious Centre, Building 38 Exhibition Walk, Monash University Clayton Campus. Refreshments will follow at The Monash Staff Club in Building 32 Exhibition Walk (map link: Monash University Clayton Campus Map colour).