FOUR people with a lifelong association to the University of Limerick have received honorary doctorates from UL president professor Don Barry.
UL chose to honour these individuals who “provided leadership in key functions at the University of Limerick over a long period” as this year marks UL40, the fortieth anniversary of the enrolment of the first students at the then National Institute for Higher Education in 1972.
Among those honoured was John O’Connor, who took on the role as president for one year after Dr Roger Downer stepped down in 2006 for health seasons. He received an honorary doctorate of economic science.
John became director of finance and physical development in 1980, and over the past 30 years has seen the campus grow from a single building on a 167-acre site in 1972 to 43 developments comprising 210,000 square metres of building space on 332 acres today. He is credited with pioneering many of the major developments on campus, including two bridges across the Shannon.
An honorary doctorate of laws was bestowed upon Leo Colgan, founding registrar of NIHE, who by the time of his retirement in 2002 had the distinction of being the longest-serving registrar in the history of the state’s seven universities.
Patrick J. Kelly, who received an honorary doctorate of letters, was appointed director of Library Services at NIHE in 1972. He retired in 1998 as director of the information systems & services division. “Pat was responsible for the growth of the library from its original location in the basement of Plassey House to the current purpose-designed Glucksman Library & Information Services building,” said a UL spokesperson.
John McGinn, who received an honorary doctorate of economic science, was appointed director of the cooperative education division in 1979. Under his direction the programme grew from an initial base of 80 placements to in the region of 1,800 students being placed annually with a network of 1,700 employers, making it the programme the largest in Europe. “Despite their initial scepticism, some of the other Irish universities have seen the benefits of the UL work placement model and now include placements in their curricula, but only on specific programmes – UL remains the only Irish university to offer Cooperative Education to all undergraduate students,” said UL.