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Former Southland resident Dr Elman Poole bequeathed the money to support southern students studying science, music, health sciences and engineering at both the University of Otago and Canterbury University.
It will also allow more postgraduate students from both universities to undertake overseas fieldwork.
Otago director of development and alumni relations Shelagh Murray said said the bequest would ensure existing Otago scholarships involving Dr Poole could now be offered forever, and more scholarships could also be offered.
The university was ‘‘incredibly grateful’’, and Dr Poole’s generosity had already supported many southern students ‘‘to achieve their dreams and further their education’’, she said.
Dr Poole bequeathed about $1.5million each to the two universities via their charitable trusts to support undergraduate scholarships for university students from Southland Boys’ and Southland Girls’ High Schools, and an increased number of postgraduate travelling scholarships for Otago and Canterbury university students.
Dr Poole grew up in Invercargill, attended Southland Boys’ High School and graduated from Otago in 1950.
He died in June 2019 in the United Kingdom, aged 93.
The scholarships reflect Dr Poole’s passion for science and music and his commitment to enabling Southern talent to shine.
Dr Poole said in 2016 the scholarships he had supported had provided ‘‘life-changing opportunities’’ for young people to go to university and to study abroad.
In the past decade, Dr Poole established three undergraduate scholarships at Otago for students from Southland Boys’ and Southland Girls’ High Schools.
These scholarships include two Elman Poole Science and Music Scholarships, which are awarded to a student from each school who is an all-round achiever with a strong interest in and aptitude for music performance and science.
Dr Poole and Otago University also co-founded a postgraduate Elman Poole Travelling Scholarship in 2006, which supports PhD students majoring in physical or biological sciences, health sciences or music, and who wish to undertake fieldwork overseas.