Thousands celebrate their graduation day at UCD

Some 3,400 degree, master’s and PhD students graduated at University College Dublin this week and now join the 224,000-strong cohort of UCD alumni worldwide.

They celebrated their academic achievements with their parents, families, friends, and supporters, who visited the campus to see their loved ones receive their robes from University College Dublin during a colourful and festive week of graduation ceremonies.

Togzhan Sultanbayeva, from Zhanaozen, which is near the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan, graduated with a BAgrSc degree in Agri - Environmental Sciences.

She was accompanied to her graduation ceremony by two of her best friends, Assel Kikbaykyzy and Assel Rzakhanova, who travelled all the way from Kazakhstan to share in her graduation celebrations.

 Togzhan Sultanbayeva, from Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan, graduated from UCD with a BAgr Sc Degree in Agri - Environmental Sciences. She was accompanied to her graduation ceremony by two of her friends, Assel Kikbaykyzy (left) and Assel Rzakhanova.

“To be honest I can’t describe in one word because there is a lot of…a palette of emotions,” she said. “I am just feeling all the memories of all the classes at this moment. I am thinking now of everything in flashes, it is all happening in front of my eyes. If I close my eyes, then everything is just flying, flying, flying. Now I am feeling that I am really happy.”

“I am going back to Kazakhstan next week. I have been living here for four years because I did my undergrad here. I was studying under a scholarship programme, which was established by the Kazakhstan government, so we have to go back and work there for five years. So, now I am full of new energy, so I will go back and work for my country.”

Hannah Ward and Anne Sweeney graduated from the same class with a BComm Bachelor of Commerce Degree.

Hannah said: “It’s great to see everyone that we haven’t seen since we were in college and to see us all graduating together. We will miss college life and seeing our friends every day. We have both got jobs already and most of four friends from the course do as well.

 Hannah Ward and Anne Sweeney who graduated from the same class with a BComm Bachelor of Commerce Degree

“I was here five years ago as I originally did Science and then I switched over, so now the Science building is gorgeous and the other new building are gorgeous, and there are a lot more international students than when I started… and they seem to be a lot more integrated into college life. The changes in the campus and all the new buildings have created a brighter atmosphere to study in and to meet people in.”

Anne added: “I will miss running into everyone every day and being around everybody.”

Ad Astra Academy Elite Athlete and All-Ireland senior Gaelic Football championship winner in 2011, Rory O’Carroll, who plays full back for the Dublin senior football team, graduated with an MSoc Sc master’s in Social Work.

 Ad Astra Academy Elite Athlete and All-Ireland senior Gaelic Football championship winner (2011), Rory O’Carroll, who plays full-back for the Dublin senior football team, graduated with an MSoc Sc master’s in Social Work

Asked what emotions he was experiencing on graduation day, he said: “There are several really, there is relief because the long master’s is over, it was quite demanding. Secondly, it is just happiness that you get to spend this special occasion with family and friends, and then there is a little bit of disappointment that it is all over and we are all going our separate ways.

“I will miss the life that you’d have in UCD. I have been here for six years, so it has become nearly a second home. The friends got on very well within the class as well as within the sporting teams and everyone within the EA [Ad Astra Academy Elite Athlete Programme] were helping me no end to achieve on the field and off the field.”

Maria Adewusi, who is originally from Nigeria, but has lived in Dublin for the last 15 years, graduated with a BComm Bachelor of Commerce Degree.

“I’m very proud of myself to have gotten this far and I am mostly proud that I have my family here with me. My family travelled here from London to be with me today,” she said.

 Maria Adewusi, who is originally from Nigeria, graduated with a BComm Bachelor of Commerce degree and is pictured with her uncle Isaac and his son Lawrence

“I really enjoyed the opportunity of getting involved in all of the societies in UCD. I worked as a UCD orientation guide for three years. I was involved in the Musical Society, I was involved in the International Students Society, so the fact that UCD has over 1,000 societies that I could have got involved in…that was by far the best thing about being here. That was the greatest advantage about being involved in a large university.”

During the week of graduation ceremonies, a remarkable group of individuals, who have achieved distinction in their fields of endeavour, were awarded honorary degrees by the university.

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Irish civil service and Irish diplomatic relations, UCD awarded Dermot Gallagher an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.

Mr Gallagher joined what was then the Department of External Affairs in 1969, the year violence erupted in Northern Ireland. He became press officer at the Irish Embassy in London in 1973.

 Dermot Gallagher, who was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws

His appointment as Michael O’Kennedy’s deputy chef de cabinét with the European Commission in Brussels signalled the growing recognition of his talents and it was followed in 1985 by his first ambassadorial appointment, to Nigeria. He next played a key role as Ireland’s Ambassador in Washington from 1991.

“He had already become friendly with Bill Clinton before he became President in 1993 and his ambassadorial lobbying of the White House and of Congress resulted in the modification of legislation to limit tax concessions to US firms abroad that could have damaged the Irish economy,” said Professor Emeritus of Modern History at UCD, Ronan Fanning.

“He also ensured the US government’s unwavering support for the peace process after the IRA ceasefire of 1994; this was most dramatically demonstrated by President Clinton’s granting a visa to Gerry Adams.

“On his return from Washington in 1997 he became Second Secretary General, again as the head of the Anglo-Irish Division and he led the team of officials at the Stormont negotiations that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.”

After the success of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Gallagher moved briefly to the Department of the Taoiseach as Secretary General before returning as Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2001-2009, the appointment which crowned his career.

“He then accepted an invitation to chair UCD’s Governing Authority and those of us who served with him on that body from 2009 until 2013 saw at first hand his incomparable skill at chairing the most fractious of meetings. Less well known was his incessant work behind the scenes in the corridors of power, to advance and protect the best interests of this university.”

Dame Professor Rosemary Cramp, British archaeologist and academic specialising in the Anglo-Saxons was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature.

“Dame Professor Rosemary Cramp is truly a giant in the field of medieval archaeology. She is acknowledged internationally as the most influential archaeologist in the long history of Anglo-Saxon research. As an educator, she laid the foundations of many distinguished careers,” said Associate Professor at the UCD School of Archaeology, Tadhg O’Keeffe.

 Dame Professor Rosemary Cramp was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature

“She studied English language and literature in Oxford and taught English there for five years before taking up a lectureship in archaeology in Durham in 1955. Her first major paper, ‘Beowulf and Archaeology’, published in the first-ever volume of the journal Medieval Archaeology in 1957, reflected her unique training.

“There are at least two other firsts of note in her career. She was the first Anglo-Saxon archaeologist to be appointed to a full-time lecturership in any British university. And she became, in 1971, the first woman to be appointed to a professorship in Durham University. Throughout her career, she remained committed to increasing the number of women working in archaeology in the university sector.”

UCD awarded Owen Brennan, who is Executive Chairman of Devenish Nutrition, an agri-technology company, which has grown from being a small local supplier to an international technology-driven, research-focused organisation, an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science.

 Owen Brennan was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science

Mr Brennan is also a graduate in Agricultural Science and in Master of Business Administration from UCD. Since leaving UCD, Mr Brennan’s business career has focused on animal nutrition – firstly with Connolly’s Red Mills and then with Nutec and now with Devenish.

“The next big step came in 1997 when Owen Brennan led a team to acquire Devenish feeds of which he is now executive chairman,” said Professor Alex Evans, Dean of Agricultural Science and Head of the School of Agriculture and Food Science at University College Dublin.

“Devenish provides leading edge nutritional solutions for the livestock sector and provide products from farm to fork. In the early years of the acquisition, Owen’s drive, determination, courage and intellect were vital in making Devenish Nutrition the largest independently owned manufacturer of premix, creep and speciality feed products in the UK.”

“As well as recognising Owen Brennan the scientist today, we recognise that he continues to give generously of his time and talents to several bodies.

“It is also in this spirit of generosity that Owen Brennan and his team have been lending their expertise and support to the development of agriculture in Africa. They are supporting Traidlinks and the Africa Agri-Food Development Fund in Uganda to develop a co-operative of pig producers. The aim of the project is to assist local people build profitable businesses and help improve the nutrition of the surrounding population.

Michael Dowling, who is president and chief executive officer of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, was awarded an honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature by UCD.

 Michael Dowling was awarded an honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature

Headquartered in Great Neck, New York, North Shore-LIJ is the largest integrated health system in New York State, based on patient revenue, and the 14th largest healthcare system in the United States.

Mr Dowling served in the New York State government for 12 years, including seven years as state director of Health, Education and Human Services and deputy secretary to former governor Mario Cuomo. He was also commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services.

A graduate of UCC and of Fordham University, before his public service career, he was a Professor of Social Policy and Assistant Dean at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services and director of the Fordham campus in Westchester County, New York.

“Throughout his career, he is a man who has cherished education, from his own determination as a young man to go to college, his continuing, life-long education as a part-time student of social policy at Fordham University, his bringing together of Hofstra University to the North Shore-LIJ family to form the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine and his service to us as Chairman of the North American Advisory Board of UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School,” said Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Dean of Business at UCD Quinn School and UCD Smurfit School.

Professor Karsten Harries, Howard H Newman Professor of Philosophy at Yale University was awarded an honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature.

 Professor Karsten Harries was awarded an honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature

Professor Harries, a native German speaker, is best known as an interpreter of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger.

“Professor Harries was one of the first to challenge Martin Heidegger’s intellectual relationship with National Socialism and has commented critically on Heidegger’s notorious rectoral address of 1933, where he aligned Freiburg University with the National Socialist cause,” said Professor of Philosophy (Metaphysics and Logic) at UCD, Dermot Moran.

“He has also pioneered the growing new area of the philosophy of architecture. He is also one of the world’s foremost theorists of contemporary architecture and is internationally known for his contribution to architectural theory.”

“Professor Karsten Harries is a frequent visitor to UCD for more than 25 years since the early 1990s.

“Professor Harries was invited to deliver the sixth UCD Millennium Lectures in 2000 on ‘Technology and Art on the Threshold of the Third Millennium’ in Newman House. Most recently, he gave the keynote address at a philosophy conference in Newman House, May 2013. Indeed, just yesterday, he led a seminar on the current state of philosophy at the International Centre for Newman Studies in UCD.”

Professor Moran added that Professor Harries has been generous in assisting UCD graduates to gain postgraduate studies places at Yale University. UCD awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature to Professor Áine Hyland as a tribute to the outstanding role she has played in education and in public life in Ireland.

A Bachelor of Arts graduate from UCD, Áine Hyland (née Donlon) is Emeritus Professor of Education and former Vice-President of University College Cork.

 UCD awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature to Professor Áine Hyland

She was appointed Admissions Officer and Senior Lecturer in Education at Carysfort College and subsequently returned to UCD as Senior Lecturer for a time, before accepting the Chair of Education at University College Cork in 1993.

She went on to become Vice-President of UCC for seven years, the post from which she retired in 2006.

“Áine’s contribution to education is inestimable; she has been involved in numerous initiatives over the course of her career, beginning with the key role she played as researcher to the Investment in Education project, the first ever OECD review of national policies for education (OECD, 1991: 7), on which she worked as a very young civil servant in the 1960s and which was described by Professor John Coolahan as ‘one of the foundation documents of modern Irish education’ (Coolahan 1980: 165),” said Professor Maeve Conrick, College Principal of the UCD College of Arts and Humanities.

“From that early experience of research into Irish education, Áine continued publishing numerous influential papers and books on educational topics, the impact of which is still being felt. For example, her paper entitled Entry to Higher Education in Ireland in the 21st Century (Hyland, 2011) – generally referred to as The Hyland Report – set the scene for the ongoing process examining the transition between second and third-level education.”