Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

John Stewart image
Dr John M. Stewart.

A major bequest of $3.8m from the estate of medical alumnus and radiologist Dr John M. Stewart will go towards supporting students and research at the University of Otago.

The gift was made through the Alumni of the University of Otago in America (AUOA), a non-profit organisation that connects US alumni and supports University students, research and initiatives. It is the largest donation received by the American association.

The first initiative to be established through the gift is the John M. Stewart Scholarship, which will be awarded for the first time this February. The scholarship will support undergraduate Health Sciences students.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the late Dr Stewart for this major bequest and also his family for support of this legacy,” says AUOA President Jono Wong. “It’s the single largest donation our American alumni association has ever received and we’re committed to maximizing the academic opportunities and impact the donation will have for many years to come. This scholarship is just the first initiative.”

Dr Stewart graduated MB ChB from Otago in 1966. After completing internships in Thames and Christchurch hospitals and residencies in Tauranga and Auckland, his first position was at the PW Verco Practice in Adelaide, Australia.

He then moved with his family to the United States (US), accepting a dual position at the Medical College of Wisconsin and at the Milwaukee County General Hospital. Two years later, he moved his family to Caribou, Maine, accepting a position at Cary Medical Center.

Dr Stewart worked in Caribou for 35 years, experiencing many radiological changes in technology and equipment, which prompted him to attend additional training and education in CT scanning, MRI, and advanced ultrasound throughout the country. His daughters Alison and Hermione say this dedication to education was indicative of the devotion he felt toward his work.

Following a cancer diagnosis in 2004, Dr Stewart was no longer able to work full time and later fully retired in Palm Beach, Florida. During his time of illness, he participated in several cancer research trials. Alison and Hermione, who live in New Zealand, say their father always had a dream of doing his part, with the hope of seeing a cure for cancer one day.

“Dad was very passionate about education and research, and about Cancer Research in particular. This was a main reason for wanting to donate to the University of Otago. He went through medical trials for years while he was sick. A lot were not easy for him, but he never complained, knowing that by participating, this would potentially be helping others. He hoped some of the money he gifted would contribute towards cancer research projects that show potential.”

His daughters describe him as a wise and extremely humble man throughout his life. He loved to spend time with his family and was a dedicated father, grandfather, and partner. He had a love of travel, reading and watching British television shows, as well as a huge interest in steam engine trains and airplanes, having had learned to fly small planes during his medical training years. He also had a quick wit and was a master of Dad Jokes.

“He had no desire to buy expensive clothes or cars, he just wanted his money to go on education, learning experiences, and items that lasted. I know he would be happy to know that his gift would be going towards students of any background that are hard-working, studious and focused on their study,” says Alison.

“He would love to see students of the University of Otago continue to pave the way for future research, and better health outcomes for all people.”

Alumni of the University of Otago in America is a registered charity that allows US-based alumni to network, support each other, and contribute financially to the University of Otago to fund initiatives.

John M. Stewart Scholarship

Applicants for the John M. Stewart Scholarship must be enrolled (or planning to enrol) in their second, third, fourth or fifth year of undergraduate study towards a Health Sciences professional programme at the University of Otago.

The Scholarship will support students who show academic aptitude, may be “first in family” attending university, and face financial challenges to complete their studies. Other factors considered by the selection panel will include community or social outreach and engagement.

The value of the scholarship will normally be the annual tuition fee, and recipients will receive the scholarship for up to five years of approved study. The number of scholarships available each year will be determined by the selection panel.

John M. Stewart Scholarship – details and application

Back to top