Dr Francis J. Bonner

Building on Newman's Foundation

170608 - Dr Boner & Prof Deeks

Dr Francis J. Bonner was conferred with a degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa at the 2017 UCD Medicine Conferring Ceremony at UCD O’Reilly Hall on the 8th June 2017.  The distinguished UCD Medicine alumnus from the UCD Medicine Class of 1970 was conferred with the degree by UCD President, Professor Andrew J Deeks in recognition of Dr Bonner’s outstanding contribution to medicine, public life and to UCD.

The honorary conferring took place at the 2017 UCD Medicine Conferring ceremony in the UCD O’Reilly Hall, Belfield with the citation read by Prof Patrick Murray, Dean of Medicine and Head of School, UCD School of Medicine. In his address to the assembled graduands of 2017, the UCD President paid warm tribute to Dr Bonner who has been a steadfast supporter of the School and University.

Citation Address by Prof Patrick Murray

Introductory address delivered by Professor Patrick Murray, Dean of Medicine & Head, UCD School of Medicine on 8th June 2017, on the occasion of the conferring of the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa on Dr Francis J. Bonner.

President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

We honour Dr Frank Bonner today because of his outstanding contribution to the mission of University College Dublin, including the UCD School of Medicine, of which he is a proud graduate. Following graduation from St. Mary’s College in Maryland with a Bachelor of Science degree, Frank left his native United States to study Medicine in UCD, graduating MB, BCh, BAO in 1970. He then returned to the U.S. and completed his residency training in Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He subsequently joined the medical staff as an attending physician, and was ultimately appointed Chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate Hospital, and served in that capacity for over 30 years.

Dr. Bonner is a Fellow of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, of the American Board of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, and of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. He has served on numerous Boards, including the United States Presidential Scholars (appointed by President Bill Clinton), the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the Lupus Foundation of America, the Curtis School of Music, the Foundation for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Department of Physical Medicine at Mt. Sinai and Graduate Hospitals, and Friends of the National Library of Medicine (of which he is a past President).  In recent years, he has also served on the Board of the new Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, New Jersey, where his son Kirk is a current student.

In 1987, Frank was instrumental in establishing the John Henry Newman Foundation as a non-profit corporation in the United States. The purpose of the Foundation is to promote and encourage research and education in Ireland. In the last two decades, the John Henry Newman Foundation has raised over €3.6M for UCD.  Dr Bonner has remained Chairman of the Foundation since its inception, and has steadfastly continued to support his Irish Alma Mater, University College Dublin, in this and many other ways. His expert Chairmanship has continued during his retirement, in Vero Beach, Florida.

Frank has been a generous and committed supporter of the UCD School of Medicine over many years. His donations have supported the Muiris FitzGerald Scholarship Found (which funds overseas clinical elective rotations), and the Powderly Fund (providing student relief). Since 2010, the Powderly Fund has also been used to fund the “White Coat” Ceremony, an annual highlight of the calendar of the UCD School of Medicine ever since its’ inception.

This clinical commencement ceremony, in which medical students who are halfway through an arduous programme are gowned by a faculty member with the white coat that they will wear from then onwards, has become a rite of passage in the School. The tangible mid-course evidence of real career progression is much appreciated by students and their families alike! Not only is this a celebration of mastery of the breadth and depth of knowledge in biomedical sciences acquired over several “preclinical” years, but the event also marks the transition to a level of professionalism and responsibility that is absolutely demanded in the clinical setting.

Frank’s exemplary clinical leadership and service to his community and to the education and training of future generations are precisely the attributes that we seek to develop in our graduates.  In recognition of his outstanding contribution to medical and public life, and to UCD, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the UCD School of Medicine in 2009. He has continued his active support and advocacy for the UCD School of Medicine, most recently by arranging prized annual clinical electives for our students in Lankenau Medical Centre, Philadelphia over the past several years. 

Dr. Francis J. Bonner has served his patients, his community, and his alma mater UCD with great dedication and distinction. It is my honour, Frank, to congratulate you on this wonderful occasion; the conferring of the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Praehonorabilis Praeses, totaque Universitas,

Praesento vobis hunc meum filium, quem scio tam moribus quam doctrina habilem et idoneum esse qui admittatur, honoris causa, ad Gradum Doctoratus Scientiae; idque tibi fide mea testor ac spondeo, totique Academiae.