Landmark gift for Chair in Health Law

22 March 2017

The Auckland Law School at the University of Auckland is excited to announce the establishment of the ‘Marylyn and John Mayo Chair in Health Law and Policy’ thanks to the generous support of one of the faculty’s longest standing donors, Dr John Mayo.

The gift of $2 million is the latest major gift to the University of Auckland Campaign For All Our Futures and the largest ever given to the Law School. It will establish an academic chair to develop and enhance scholarship in the growing area of health law.

It adds to the long history of support from Dr Mayo, including his provision for the Rare Books Room at the Davis Law Library, the Marylyn Eve Mayo Endowment Scholarship and the Law School Endowment Fund.

Dr Mayo was inspired to support the Auckland Law School to honour his late wife, Marylyn Mayo, who graduated with Bachelor degrees in Law and Arts as one of a small group of female law graduates at the University of Auckland in the 1960s. She went on to have a long career both in private practice and later, as an academic at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, where she was the Foundation Head of the School of Law and Acting Dean until 1990, and Deputy Dean until 1993. Marylyn retired from academia in 1996 and sadly passed away in 2002.

The Chair in Health Law and Policy is relevant to Marylyn’s passions as she served on several boards and committees, including as the Chair of the Townsville Hospital Ethics Committee as well as being a member of the University and National Health and Medical Research Council Ethics Committee in Australia.

“I have been pleased to be able to support the Law Faculty at the University of Auckland over the past decade and a half,” says Dr John Mayo. “It is particularly gratifying to me – as it is, I am sure, to all supporters and benefactors of the Auckland Law School – to see the Faculty go from strength to strength in every respect under the leadership of various Deans and Davis Law Librarians.”

Health Law – the contemporary name given to the intersection of law and medicine – is a complex area of specialisation, encompassing a broad range of personal and public health issues that arise in both the public and private sectors, and affect patients, health and legal practitioners and the broader community.

As scientific and technological advances continue apace, and government faces pressure to contain expenditure on publicly-funded health care, the development of effective laws and a responsive legal framework, underpinned by sound ethics and evidence-based policy, becomes ever more pressing.

Recent examples of issues arising in the area include the ongoing debate about legalising physician assistance in dying; the advanced care planning movement; the implications of trade agreements on access to pharmaceuticals; the public funding of highly expensive life-prolonging new cancer therapies; and the privacy implications of new patient portals and sharing of electronic patient records, to name just a few.

Dean of Law Professor Andrew Stockley said that "the establishment of a Chair in Health Law and Policy ensures that the Auckland Law School will be well placed to lead research and debate in this area, significantly contributing to the development of Health Law, both in New Zealand, and internationally. We are very grateful to John Mayo for his landmark gift and his ongoing support of the Law School."