The John Fitzsimons Memorial Fund honours of one of Strathclyde Law School’s most inspirational Law Lecturers.
John Fitzsimons motivated a generation of students to realise their potential, with a great many pursuing a career in the subject John taught (and loved) – Criminal Law.
John Fitzsimons joined the newly-formed Law School in 1964 and dedicated the next 20 years of his life to teaching and scholarship at Strathclyde before becoming a well-respected Sheriff.
He served continuously at Dumbarton Sheriff Court for almost 20 years and he is universally remembered as a careful, wise, firm, but always compassionate judge.
After serving in the Royal Air Force as a radar technician, he decided to read law. He also worked nights as a TV repair man at nights to support his wife, Pat, and two young children, Tricia and James.
When he learned that each law class carried with it a class prize in the form of cash, he set himself the task of winning as many as possible. By the time he had completed the three year course, he had won all but one!
A highly respected and gifted Lecturer, his brilliant teaching of Criminal Law and Jurisprudence was conducted in a lively and contemporary fashion. He had the gift of being able to explain the most complex of issues in clear terms.
The John Fitzsimons Memorial Fund honours the courage, integrity and inspiration of John Fitzsimons in two ways.
First, the Strathclyde Centre for Law, Crime and Justice will hold a regular public and high profile John Fitzsimons Memorial Lecture in Criminal Law and Justice. The first John Fitzsimons Memorial Lecture is given by Albie Sachs, Supreme Court Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and award-winning author.
Secondly, in keeping with John’s belief in the importance of education and meritocracy, the John Fitzsimons Memorial Fund will offer help to academically meritorious mature Strathclyde Law School students who are in genuine financial need.
Speaking about the creation of the John Fitzsimons Memorial Fund, John’s widow, Pat said:
John would be really, really pleased to see what Strathclyde Law School is doing for mature students because this could be a family like us.
I know that John loved every one of his students. He was so proud of them all.
I would like to ask all of those who benefited from John’s teaching and advice to support this new Memorial Fund.
The Memorial Lecture and Fund has been created by the Law School’s Professor Cyrus Tata who explained the reasons for the initiative:
John Fitzsimons inspired a generation and many attribute their personal success, in significant part, to his brilliant teaching and encouragement. He believed that bright individuals should have proper access to education on the basis of academic, not financial, merit.
However, many of today’s mature students continue to face extremely difficult circumstances, often having to choose between educational opportunity and short-term financial necessity. Many have to forego the chance to study because of financial adversity.
Through the John Fitzsimons Memorial Fund we will not only remember and celebrate John’s values with a regular Memorial Public Lecture, but also create a lasting practical legacy to help the next generation of gifted mature law students.