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Honorary Degrees Awarded by DCU

DCU honours acclaimed actor, Olwen Fouéré and Holocaust survivor, Tomi Reichental

 Honorary Conferring 2nd April 2016

Dublin City University yesterday paid tribute to award-winning actress, Olwen Fouéré and Holocaust survivor, Tomi Reichental by conferring them with honorary doctorates at the university’s March graduation ceremony.

Olwen Fouéré, a multi-award winning actor, writer, director and creative artist, was recognised for her outstanding outstanding services to her profession.  Delivering her citation, Marina Carr, playwright and DCU’s Writer-in-Residence highlighted Olwen’s significant contribution to theatre, the arts and culture in Ireland,

“In a long and distinguished career, spanning four decades, her incredible gifts and power and chameleon-like qualities have allowed her to navigate not only theatre, both mainstream and experimental, but also the visual arts, music, dance, opera, film and literature. Olwen’s focus is on making Art and in this she is truly a pioneer, a questing spirit, much revered by her contemporaries. She is an aesthetic phenomenon, a national treasure and an inspiration to us all. Olwen Fouéré, we are delighted to have you here in DCU to celebrate your bravery, your artistic generosity and your astonishing gifts.

Olwen was joined at the ceremony by Tomi Reichental, a survivor of the Holocaust, who was imprisoned in Bergen Belsen in 1944, at the age of 9 years. He has received many awards for his work and tireless efforts to promote tolerance and to educate young people about the importance of remembrance and reconciliation has made him one of the most inspirational figures in modern Ireland.

Professor Gary Murphy, Head of DCU’s School of Law & Government said,

“In the past number of years Tomi Reichental has proven to be one of the most inspirational figures in modern Ireland. His effort to ensure that the important themes of remembrance, forgiveness, conflict resolution and reconciliation remain to the forefront of modern Irish thought is truly important. In an age where we see horrific pictures of refugees attempting to flee appalling regimes to find sanctuary in the West, Tomi Reichental is a vivid example of the positive impact refugees make to modern Irish society. Honouring Tomi Reichental with the highest honour that Dublin City University can bestow is a fitting tribute to Tomi and his work. It also expresses this University’s commitment to multiculturalism and inclusion and showcases our solidarity with the plight of refugees today, who seek a better life, as Tomi and his family did over fifty years ago.”

Olwen Fouéré's Citation

Tomi Reichental's Citation

2nd April 2016

DCU honours top female astrophysicist.


Dublin City University has today paid tribute to Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the Northern Ireland-born astrophysicist, in recognition of her life’s work in the field of astronomy and astrophysics, her commitment to science communication and her advocacy for women in the field of science.

Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU highlighted the importance of Dame Jocelyn’s role in addressing the issue of poor representation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths careers,

“One of the biggest issues in this area is the relatively poor take up of STEM degrees and STEM careers by young women. Lower than 15% in many degree programmes – lower than 25% across all STEM careers in Ireland.  Apart from equity issues, this is a horrendous waste of talent.  Dame Jocelyn has been to the fore publicly and internationally in highlighting, in acting willingly as a role model and, most of all, pursuing relentlessly the advancement of Women in Science.”

Accepting an honorary doctorate from the university, Dame Jocelyn spoke of her pride in receiving this accolade and encouraged the graduating students to believe in themselves and to guard against imposter syndrome,

“You have a right to be here, you will have a right to be here wherever you go next and I hope it goes well for you.”

Professor Bell Burnell inadvertently discovered pulsars as a graduate student in radio astronomy in Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics - work recognised by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.

She has subsequently worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family.  She is now a Visiting Professor in Oxford, a Pro-Chancellor of Trinity College Dublin and the first female President of the royal Society of Edinburgh - Scotland’s Academy.

Much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster, in her spare time she gardens, listens to choral music and is active in the Quakers.  She has co-edited an anthology of poetry with an astronomical theme - Dark Matter:  Poems of Space.

Professor Colette McDonagh of DCU’s School of Physical Sciences said,

“Dame Jocelyn is a world-class scientist, is Irish-born and makes frequent visits to Ireland.  Her scientific achievements and her passion for, and contribution to, science communication and the advancement of women in science, resonate well with the culture, values and ethos of this university, and merit the award of the highest honour that Dublin City University can bestow.”

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell's Citation

5th November, 2015

DCU Confers Honorary Degree on Mr. Brian Cody, Dr. Pearse Lyons and Dr. Margaret MacCurtain.

Honorary Conferring February 2015


Ireland’s most successful hurling manager, a US-based Irish entrepreneur and innovator, and our foremost feminist historian have been honoured today at DCU for their diverse and unique contributions to Irish society.  Brian Cody, the Kilkenny hurling manager; Dr Pearse Lyons, founder and President of Alltech, the animal health and nutrition company; and Dr Margaret MacCurtain, historian, academic and activist, all received a Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa, the highest honour the university can bestow on an individual.  

Welcoming the recipients to the ceremony, Dr Martin McAleese, Chancellor of DCU said,

“This university's greatest ambition is to produce graduates like our honorary graduands today.  These three created new pathways, new practices, new perspectives. They nudged our world to do things better, guided us to a better place.  I hope that in recognising three very distinctive forms of Irish genius, our students will understand that there is no one way, no single path, no pre-drawn roadmap, no one size fits all which lays out their future.”

A teacher by profession and manager of the Kilkenny Senior Hurling team since 1998, Brian Cody has guided the county to an unprecedented victory in 10 All-Ireland finals, 12 Leinster titles and 7 League victories.  Brian, who was commended for his leadership role in the field of sport and his dedication to volunteerism and community engagement by Tom Fitzpatrick, said,

“I am extremely grateful to receive this award today alongside Dr Margaret MacCurtain and Dr Pearse Lyons, whose hard work and dedication in their respective fields I greatly admire. It is a true honour to be invited here by DCU, an institution so widely recognised for its excellence in the sporting field.”

Dr Pearse Lyons is founder and President of Alltech, the industry leader in animal health and nutrition, crop sciences, brewing and distilling which employs 3500 globally, doing business across 128 countries.  Responding to a citation by Professor Martin Clynes which highlighted his career as a scientist, innovator, entrepreneur and champion of Irish-American business links, Dr Lyons said,

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognised by DCU, an educational institution I hold in very high regard. Not only has it developed and graduated some of Alltech’s best employees, but DCU is an integral partner in our research as we endeavor to cultivate solutions for healthier, more sustainable food production.”

Dr Margaret MacCurtain, a member of the Dominican Order, has enjoyed a lifetime devoted to multifaceted endeavour as a teacher, feminist and pioneer of Women’s History, advocating for social change such as the abolition of corporal punishment, the right to re-marriage after civil divorce and for the rights of children with special educational needs.  Following a citation delivered by Dr Brendan Walsh, Sr Margaret said,

“DCU is celebrating 25 years  of growth this year and is widely hailed as the changemaker campu.  It has developed a presence in the performing arts and humanities and in encouraging and entrepreneurial skills.  Ballyfermot Senior College, of which I was founding principal, in a very short time broadened its brief to introduce courses in art and graphic design, cinema, mixed media, music production - in fact its degree in Media Production Management is  validated by DCU - and its School of Animation has the aura of two Oscar nominations won by past students!  These "new age" initiatives at 2nd and post-2nd level education demonstrate the strides Irish education has taken from the early seventies when the sociologist, Liam Ryan called for educational enterprises to serve disenfranchised young people.”

Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, congratulated the three recipients on their awards,

“DCU is delighted to confer honorary doctorates on 3 outstanding individuals. At a time of significant challenges to our nation, each has demonstrated what can be achieved through courage, dedication and a lifetime commitment to excellence. They are wonderful role models for our students.”

Brian Cody's Citation

Dr. Pearse Lyon's Citation

Dr. Margaret MacCurtain's Citation

The Hon Mrs Justice Susan Denham and Dr Dermot Lane receive an honorary degree from DCU.

Dr Susan Denham and Dr Dermot Lane

As part of DCU’s Autumn conferring ceremonies DCU President, Professor Brian MacCraith, awarded an honorary degree on The Hon. Mrs Justice Susan Denham and Dr Dermot Lane. The ceremony took place on Thursday, 6th November in the Helix, DCU.

The Hon. Mrs Justice Susan Denham was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) in recognition of her distinguished career and outstanding contributions and impact on the court structures in Ireland.

Dr Dermot Lane received the award in acknowledgment of his outstanding efforts and contribution to shaping the present understanding of religious education in Ireland.

Speaking at the ceremony Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, said that “Chief Justice Denham and Dr Lane, through your commitment to excellence combined with your focus on issues of societal importance, and for all the reasons that we heard in your wonderful citations earlier, you are magnificent role models for both our students and our graduates here today.”

The Hon. Mrs Justice Susan Denham Citation
Dr Dermot Lane Citation

6th November 2014


DCU Confers Honorary Degree on Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and Social Entrepreneur.

On Saturday, 18th October 2014, DCU conferred the award of Doctor of Philosophy (D. Phil. Honoris Causa) on Professor Muhammad Yunus at a special Convocation ceremony in the Helix.

Speaking at the ceremony Dr Martin McAleese, Chancellor of DCU said, “Muhammad Yunus is an uncompromising advocate of the right of every single human being to respect for their dignity, access to education, work and a reasonable standard of living for themselves and their children, and importantly the right not to depend on charity or handouts for any of these things. In short, the opportunity to realise their potential and to achieve a fulfilled life.

Prof Muhammad Yunus Citation

18th October 2014

Senator George J. Mitchell receives an honorary degree from DCU.

George Mitchell

DCU conferred an honorary degree on Senator George J. Mitchell on Friday, 13th December, in recognition to his outstanding service in the cause of peace.

Senator Mitchell served as Independent Chairman of the Northern Ireland Peace Talks, successfully negotiating the Good Friday Agreement.

Dr Martin McAleese, Chancellor of DCU, remarked that Senator Mitchell “helped make possible what many believed to be impossible – against all the odds and the force of history itself – delivered an agreement which paved the way to a lasting peace.”

13th December 2013

DCU Confers honorary degrees on leading Irish Sports Personalities, Sean Kelly, Brian O'Driscoll and Katie Taylor.

DCU Sports Conferring

On Wednesday, 13th November, DCU conferred honorary degrees on three of Ireland’s leading sports personalities, Sean Kelly, Brian O’Driscoll and Katie Taylor. Katie Taylor’s degree was awarded in absentia.

Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, reflected on the importance of sport within DCU and the role it can play in young people’s lives. Speaking about the three honoraries, Prof MacCraith, noted their importance as positive role models, especially for our students.

Read the President’s speech here.

13th November 2013

Dr Tony Scott, co-founder of BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, awarded an honorary degree by DCU.

Tony Scott

As part of DCU’s Autumn conferring ceremonies DCU President, Professor Brian MacCraith, awarded an honorary degree on Dr Tony Scott. Dr Scott is co-founder of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition which celebrates its 50th birthday in January 2014.

On receiving the award Dr Scott said “I am honoured of course, but it is in a sense with humility because really the award is not for me, it is for those sixty five thousand young scientists and on behalf of my late colleague, Fr Tom Burke.”

9th November 2013

DCU Confers Honorary Degrees on Northern Ireland Peacebrokers.

Michael D. Higgins

DCU has conferred honorary degrees on two Northern Ireland Peacebrokers, Seamus Mallon and David Trimble, at a special ceremony in the Helix on the 8th October 2013. Both men received the Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) which is the highest award the University bestows. It is awarded in recognition of exceptional individuals who have demonstrated excellence in scholarship, in the profession, in services to the community, to the arts, literature and culture, or in outstanding service to the University.

2013 marks the 15th year anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU said “It is fitting that this year we honour these two men whose commitment to democracy over conflict and to making a difference in society is an inspiration to us all.”

More information is available here

The President's speech is available here

8th October 2013


Honorary Conferring Ceremony in New York.

John Fitzpatrick and Brian O'Dwyer

DCU confers honorary degrees on two leading figures at a ceremony in New York on Tuesday, 11th June. Brian O’Dwyer, Irish-American lawyer, immigration rights lobbyist and adviser to President Bill Clinton on Irish issues, and John Fitzpatrick, hotelier and philanthropist received the awards in recognition of their sustained efforts to improve the lives of others, ranging from work with the American; Ireland Fund, immigration reform, welfare for senior citizens and giving their time and resources to charitable causes in Ireland.

More Information is available here

11th June 2013.

DCU confers honorary degree on Brother Colm O’Connell.

Br Colm O'Connell and David Rudisha

Brother Colm O’Connell, Irish Missionary and coach of five Kenyan Olympic Gold medallists, has been awarded an Honorary Degree by DCU. On hand to witness the event was David Rudisha, world record-holder, winner of the London 2012 800m Gold medal and alumnus of Brother Colm’s world-renowned athletics coaching programme in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

Accepting his honorary degree, Bro Colm said, “It is a very humbling experience for me to stand here today and receive such an honour. When looking down through the list of honorary graduates who have gone before me in being honoured by this distinguished university, I feel, indeed, very happy.”

19th October 2012

The full list of DCU's Honorary Graduates is available here.