Four outstanding individuals were conferred with honorary degrees from NUI Galway today (Friday, 29 June). Those honoured were playwright and novelist, Sebastian Barry; The New York Times opinion columnist, Maureen Dowd; Executive Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company, Irial Finan; and Canadian Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty MP.
Speaking on the announcement, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said: “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured this year form a particularly distinguished group. Each one has made an outstanding and distinctive contribution to the diverse fields of literature, journalism, business, public administration and government. NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise these exceptional individuals.”
Sebastian Barry was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Literature (honoris causa). Born in Dublin in 1955, he began to write in 1977, publishing a number of books of fiction and poetry, and in 1986 became increasingly involved in theatre work. He published a novel The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), followed by Annie Dunne (2002) and then two Man Booker Prize shortlisted books – A Long Long Way (2005) and The Secret Scripture (2008). The latter earned him the Costa Book of the Year award, the Independent Booksellers’ Prize, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, among others. Barry’s most recent novel, On Canaan’s Side, was also longlisted for the Booker, and shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize, the Irish Book Awards and the Galaxy International Author of the Year. He has written twelve plays, among them the award-winning The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998), and The Pride of Parnell Street (2007). He won the Ireland Fund Literary Award in 1997.
He has been Writer in Association at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and was Heimbold Visiting Professor at Villanova University in 2006. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of East Anglia in 2010, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His work is translated into more than thirty-five languages.
Maureen Dowd was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Literature (honoris causa). She is a 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner, in the commentary category, for her “unsparing columns on the hypocrisies involved in the Lewinsky affair and the effort to impeach President Clinton”. She was appointed a columnist of The New York Times’s Op-Ed page in January 1995 (where she joined in 1983). Previously, she served as a correspondent in its Washington bureau since August 1986. There, she covered two Presidential campaigns and served as White House correspondent, gaining a wide following of admirers and imitators for her witty, incisive and acerbic portraits of the powerful. She also wrote a column, "On Washington”, for The New York Times Magazine.
She began her career in 1974 as an editorial assistant for the Washington Star where she later became a sports columnist, metropolitan reporter, and feature writer. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for national reporting in 1992, Ms Dowd received the Breakthrough Award from ‘Women, Men and Media’ at Columbia University in 1991 and a Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications in 1994. She was named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year for 1996 and won the Damon Runyon award in 2000 for outstanding contributions to journalism. Dowd is the author of two bestselling books Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk (2004) and Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide (2005)
Born in Washington, D.C., on 14 January, 1952, Miss Dowd received a BA degree in English from Catholic University (Washington) in 1973.
Irian Finan was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). He is Executive Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company and President of Bottling Investments responsible for managing a multi-billion dollar bottling business, Bottling Investments Group (BIG), which has operations on four continents (South America, Europe, Africa and Asia), with revenues of over $8 billion and employs over 85,000 people. Additionally, he is responsible for stewarding The Company’s Equity Investments and leading Global Supply Chain.
Irial has over 29 years experience in The Coca-Cola System. From 2001 to 2003, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola HBC, during which time he managed the merger integration of Coca-Cola Beverages plc and Hellenic Bottling SA, and led the combined company's operations in 26 countries. Irial joined the Coca-Cola Company in 2004 as President, Bottling Investments and Supply Chain and was named Executive Vice President of the Company in October 2004.
From 1995 to 1999, he was managing director of Molino Beverages, with responsibility for expanding markets, including the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Romania, Moldova, Russia and Nigeria. Prior to that role, Irial worked in several markets across Europe. From 1991 to 1993 he served as managing director of Coca-Cola Bottlers Ulster, Ltd., based in Belfast. He was finance director, Coca-Cola Bottlers Ireland, Ltd., based in Dublin from 1984 to 1990.
Irial serves on the board of directors of Coca-Cola FEMSA, Coca-Cola HBC, Coca-Cola Central Japan, the Supervisory Board of CCE AG (Germany), Smurfit Kappa Group, and the American Ireland Fund. He also serves as a non-executive director for Co-operation Ireland and NUI Galway Foundation. Irial holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from NUI Galway and is an Associate (later Fellow) of the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants.
Minister Jim Flaherty MP was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). He is a third-term Member of Parliament for Whitby–Oshawa (Ontario). He serves as Canada’s Minister of Finance and Minister Responsible for the Greater Toronto Area. He is a Governor of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. As Minister of Finance he is an ex-officio member of all Cabinet Committees.
Minister Flaherty was recently awarded Euromoney Magazine’s Finance Minister of the Year award. Euromoney credited him with enhancing Canada’s reputation for sound fiscal policy while taking full account of social justice and overseeing a strong regulatory regime that has kept the financial sector out of chaos. He has also been described as a pillar in both the G-7 and the G-20.
In 2010, Minister Flaherty was chair of the G-7 Finance Ministers and chair of the annual Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting. Previously, for more than 10 years, he served as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Whitby–Ajax (Ontario). He served as Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, Attorney General and Minister of Labour.
He graduated from Princeton University cum laude and then graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School. He was called to the Bar in Ontario with honours and practised law for more than 20 years before being elected to public office.
These four graduands join the ranks of previous honorary alumni which include, among many others, Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Christy O’Connor Snr and Jnr, Enya, Anjelica Huston, Fionnuala Flanagan and Margaret Atwood.
For more information and a video on the Honorary Conferrings click here