NUI Galway honours the achievements of six outstanding individuals

Tuesday, 1 July 2003

Six distinguished individuals from Ireland and overseas were conferred with honorary degrees from NUI Galway today, (June 27th 2003). Professor Kader Asmal, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Rev. Fr Andrew M. Greeley, Mr Joseph Higgins, Right Rev John RW Neill and Mrs Brίd Rodgers received honorary degrees from the University in recognition of the contribution they have each made in affecting fundamental, positive change for disenfranchised and minority groups and society as a whole.

This conferring ceremony follows the conferring of Nelson Mandela last week and further underpins NUI Galway's commitment to the study and promotion of Human Rights and also its work in the area of development and social inclusion which has enhanced the lives of local communities in Ireland and fostered global links with institutions and organisations.

The President of NUI Galway, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh said, "NUI Galway is proud to recognise the achievements of these individuals whose contributions to harmonisation in society has had a profound impact on the lives of so many. It is fitting that we honour these individuals at NUI Galway where our values and beliefs foster a culture and spirit of justice, equality and opportunity for all.

Kadar Asmal who is currently Minister for Education in South Africa, has made an immense contribution to the establishment of an apartheid-free South Africa. His integrity and commitment to social change has touched the lives of many, including us in Ireland where he succeeded in drawing support for the Irish anti-apartheid movement by highlighting the plight of an oppressed people.

Mayor Richard Daley has earned a national reputation in the United States for his work in developing innovative, community-based programmes to address education, public safety, neighbourhood development and other challenges unique to the urban setting. We are proud to honour him in NUI Galway today and to acknowledge his extraordinary achievements in improving the quality of life of the citizens of Chicago, many of whom are Irish.

Fr Andrew Greeley is a rare combination of priest, politician and author. Imbued with a strong sense of social justice, he has improved the lives of many individuals through the provision of schools and churches, while creating a special place for the Irish people in Chicago. The best selling priest-novelist in the world, his books provide a unique and important insight into the history of the Irish in Chicago as an ethnic group and their integration into American society.

It is fitting that we honour Joseph Higgins with an honorary degree. His entrepreneurial flair and dedication to driving indigenous industry has assisted in establishing Galway as an industrial and digital hub where local expertise achieves global success.

We honour Archbishop John R Neill for his commitment to inclusiveness as exemplified in the ordination of women in the Church of Ireland. Archbishop Neill served on the NUI Galway Governing Authority for a number of years and demonstrated deep concern for issues of development in the West region. He has also been an active advocate of ecumenism in this country.

Brίd Rodgers who is Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Northern Ireland Executive, has dedicated her life to the pursuit of equality and social justice. She is being honoured today for her tireless efforts in the pursuit of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland".

Ends

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