11:36am Wednesday 6th January 2010
ELIZABETH Fallaize, the first female fellow of Oxford University’s St John’s College, has died from motor neurone disease, aged 59.
Prof Fallaize had a distinguished career in research and academic management, becoming the first female fellow of the college in 1990.
Generations of undergraduate and graduate students benefited from her teaching and scholarship.
In 2002, she became a Professor of French, and in 2005 was made Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education) at the university, a post she held until her retirement last year after contracting motor neurone disease.
On behalf of St John’s College, Sir Michael Scholar, President, sent a message of “deep sympathy” to her husband, Prof Alan Grafen, and to all her family.
On the college website Julie Maxton, Registrar, paid the following tribute: “Prof Fallaize was a vibrant, determined, and courageous scholar and colleague.
“As a fellow of St John’s, a former Chair of the Medieval and Modern Languages Board, and former Junior Proctor, she was well known for her clarity of view, her enthusiasm for her research, her love of France, her engagement with her students, and her principled approach to all matters.
“As the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) between 2005 and 2008, Elizabeth was responsible for a number of key strategic priorities.”
In memory of Prof Fallaize, the Department of Medieval and Modern Languages and St John's College are seeking to endow a Graduate Scholarship in the field of Modern Languages.
Ms Maxton added: “As the first woman to become an Official Fellow at St John’s, Elizabeth was a role model for many and won the admiration of many more as she supported and mentored women, and demonstrated that they could make a valuable contribution to all aspects of life in the collegiate University.
“Elizabeth will be very much missed.”
Prof Fallaize, a former pupil of Dame Allan school in Newcastle and Exeter University, was renowned for her work on women’s writing, particularly her books The Novels of Simone de Beauvoir (1988), and Simone de Beauvoir: A Critical Reader (1998).
She also published numerous pieces on contemporary women’s writing, including French Women’s Writing (1993), which introduced new fiction to the attention of an English-speaking audience.
Prof Fallaize, who died peacefully in her sleep, is survived by her third husband Prof Grafen, his daughters Rosie and Tessa, and her own children, Alice and Jack Driscoll.
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