Returning the favor

By Christy Jerz

As a University of Nevada, Reno undergraduate, Francine Mannix, M.D., ’58 (chemistry) received a $100 Max C. Fleischmann scholarship. For someone who was already working full-time to get through school, the scholarship was just the assistance and encouragement she needed to continue pursuing her degree.

At the time, Dr. Mannix vowed that she’d return the favor when she could. Following graduation from the University in 1958, Mannix attended medical school at the University of Southern California as one of just six women in her class. She returned to Reno after her pediatrics residency and opened her own practice in 1966. Many consider her to be northern Nevada’s first long-term, female pediatrician.

After closing her practice in 1993, Mannix continued her involvement in the medical community, working for Saint Mary’s as outreach clinic medical director and pediatrician. She later served as chief of pediatrics for Saint Mary’s, as well as for Washoe Med, now Renown Health.

In 2007, while accompanying a family member to the Northern Nevada Cleft Palate Clinic, Mannix met Tom Watterson, Ph.D., chair of speech pathology and audiology. Watterson wondered if Mannix would be interested in serving on the cleft palate clinic care team, dedicated to the care and treatment of children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other craniofacial disorders.

And just like that, there it was. The opportunity to give back, to “repay” that $100 scholarship from all those years ago.

For the next 10 years, Mannix joined the multi-disciplinary team of the Northern Nevada Cleft Palate Clinic on the first Friday of each month, assessing the kinds of cases she had only seen four times per year in her private practice. These days, Mannix remains committed to the community by providing financial support to the cleft palate clinic, as well as to UNR Med scholarships and other campus initiatives. She continues to reflect warmly on the boost of confidence a child receives after a facial anomaly is repaired.

To learn more about supporting the School of Medicine, please contact Shari Netzel, development director, at (775) 682-6077 or

Share this Article