NUI Maynooth confers confers Honorary Doctorates
8th June 2011: NUI Maynooth today conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering on Eddie O Connor, one of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs. Dr O’ Connor received his Honorary Doctorate from Professor Tom Collins, President, NUI Maynooth, who described him as ‘a visionary who has made a major contribution to the renewable energy sector globally and has never been afraid to speak up for what he believes in and expose what he believes to be ineffective and wrong’.
Also honoured at the conferral ceremony were historian and women’s rights advocate Mary Cullen, a former NUI Maynooth lecturer and senior public servant and legal affairs expert Joe Brosnan, a graduate from NUI Maynooth as well as leading linguistics academic and researcher Professor David Little.
Eddie O’ Connor is founder and Chief Executive of Mainstream Renewable Power, a global leader in wind and solar power energy which has grown to become Europe’s leading offshore wind developer after just three years in business. Eddie has been at the forefront of Irish business for more than a quarter of a century and he was central to the deregulation of the energy market and State sector businesses in Ireland. He served in a number of management positions in the ESB and as Chief Executive of Bord Na Móna. Having departed from Bord Na Móna in 1996, Eddie established Airtricity, Ireland’s first wind farm development company, which he subsequently sold for nearly €2 billion.
Eddie is recognised as the driving force behind the European Offshore Supergrid project, which aims to connect all countries and facilitate 50% of Europe’s electricity coming from wind power by 2050. Mainstream Renewable Power has forged strong ties with NUI Maynooth, particularly through its growing involvement in the Innovation Value Institute (IVI), having adopted the IVI systems to its IT strategy.
Mary Cullen, who was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Literature is one of the pioneers of women’s history in Ireland, a strong advocate of women’s rights and one of the first generation of Irish feminists. Mary joined the Department of History in Maynooth in 1967 and played a key role in developing the Department into a world-class History Department. Her areas of expertise include social and economic aspects of women's history in the 19th and 20th centuries and the history of Irish feminism and she has published several books on the topics.
Conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws, Joe Brosnan is known as one of Ireland’s top civil servants and public affairs experts, having operated at the highest levels of public service in Ireland and Europe. He is a graduate of NUI Maynooth and was called to the Irish Bar in 1978. He served in the Department of Local Government and is a former Secretary General of the Department of Justice. He also served on the Law Reform Commission and as a Chef de Cabinet at the European Commission. Joe retired from the civil service in 1999 and served as Director General of the Institute of European Affairs and acted as a consultant to the Law Society of Ireland. From 2004 to 2011 he was the Irish Government’s nominee on the Independent Monitoring Commission.
Professor David Little was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Education for his outstanding contribution to the field of second language education both in Ireland and abroad. David was founding director of the Centre for Language and Communication Studies, Head of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences and Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at Trinity College Dublin until his retirement in 2008. David has conducted research on the theory and practice of learner autonomy and the use of new technologies in language learning and he played a pivotal role in several landmark language initiatives. He has acted as academic consultant to the Department of Education and Skills and the Council of Europe.
Speaking at the conferral, Professor Tom Collins, President, NUI Maynooth said “NUI Maynooth is delighted to honour Eddie O’ Connor, Mary Cullen, Joe Brosnan and David Little.
“Eddie O’ Connor is an example of how entrepreneurial spirit, foresight and hard work can lead to great success globally. Instead of sitting back after the sale of Airtricity, Eddie forged on to set up a new venture, which has rapidly developed into a highly successful global company. An outspoken advocate of renewable energy, Eddie has made a significant impact on the sector globally. NUI Maynooth is proud to have close links with Eddie and Mainstream Renewable Power through the Innovation Value Institute, and our organisations have worked closely together sharing a common passion for sustainability.
“Mary Cullen has played an active role in asserting women’s rights in Ireland, especially in the area of education. Joe Brosnan dedicated most of his working life to public service and through his expertise he has contributed greatly in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Europe. Prof David Little has conducted groundbreaking research in the area of linguistics and has enjoyed an outstanding academic career”, said Professor Collins.
NUI Maynooth has been Ireland’s fast growing University in recent years, doubling in size to over 8,000 students since 2004. Postgraduate student numbers have increased by more than 50% to 1,800 and average entrance points have risen from 397 to 425.
Ends 8th June 2011
Further information from:
NUI Maynooth +353 1 708 3363
Deirdre Watters: +353 86 803 5274