Máire Geoghegan-Quinn to receive honorary degree from NUI Galway

EU Commissioner, Carna native Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, is to be honoured by NUI Galway.

Geoghegan-Quinn, currently the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation, and Science, is one of three recipients who will be awarded honorary degrees this year.

Retired chief of staff of the Irish defence forces, Lieutenant General Seán McCann, and founder of Burren Energy plc, Finian O’Sullivan, will also be conferred on Friday, June 27.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn is to be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa ). The commissioner is a former TD for Galway West (1977-1997 ) and was the first woman cabinet minister since the foundation of the State. She is also a former columnist with The Irish Times, TV presenter, non-executive director of both Aer Lingus and Ryan Hotels, a former member of the EU Court of Auditors, and a former member of the Governing Authority of NUI Galway.

Lieutenant General Seán McCann, who is to be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa ), recently retired from his position as chief of staff of the Irish Defence Forces and was among the first of the cadet classes to attend what was then UCG, and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1974.

He is a graduate of the United States Command and General Staff College and was inducted into their International Hall of Fame in 2011. He served overseas on six occasions and led the Defence Forces during the historic initial deployment of Irish personnel to Mali and Syria in particularly challenging operational environments. He is being honoured in recognition of the strong relationship between the army and NUI Galway since 1969. Lt Gen McCann was the first NUI Galway graduate to hold the post of chief of staff.

Finian O’Sullivan will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa ). A science alumnus of NUI Galway, he worked with Chevron as part of their frontier exploration and development team concentrating on the Arctic and western plain of Canada. In 1980 he joined the oil service company United Geophysical in California, undertaking exploration around the eastern hemisphere. Moving to Australia in 1982 he led Geophysical Systems Corporation operations expanding through the region to India, China and Thailand. Following a period with Olympic Oil and Gas Corporation in Houston, while based in London, O’Sullivan set up on his own Burren Energy plc which developed and discovered hydrocarbon resources in central Asia, India and West Africa, in addition to a shipping and trading venture in the Caspian region. Burren Energy Plc was sold to ENI in 2008 and O’Sullivan joined the Bayfield Group in July 2008. He was also an NUI Galway Alumni Award Winner in 2009.

Speaking in advance of the conferring ceremony, 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 political life, public policy and the international oil industry. NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise these exceptional individuals.”

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