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Posted: 18 June 2008

UCD honours “catalysts of change”

Each year on the anniversary of James Joyce’s Bloomsday, 16 June, University College Dublin presents honorary degrees to people from all walks of life who have one thing in common - their zeal and commitment to make a difference to society and to be a catalyst for change.

This year the university honours seven recipients across the fields of forestry, medicine, journalism, economics, social science, trade unionism and botany. Each has made an exceptional contribution to society and has had a significant impact in their spheres of influence.

Pictured at the event (l-r): Ms Olive Braiden, Mr Des Geraghty, Prof Stephen O'Rahilly, Prof Jürgen Huss, Dr Hugh Brady, President, UCD, Prof Xu Zhihong, Prof Ji Baocheng, Ms Geraldine Kennedy
Pictured at the event (l-r): Ms Olive Braiden, Mr Des Geraghty,
Prof Stephen O'Rahilly, Prof Jürgen Huss, Dr Hugh Brady, President, UCD,
Prof Ji Baocheng, Prof Xu Zhihong, Ms Geraldine Kennedy

Pictured Far Right: Mr Des Geraghty and Ms Olive Braiden

Their commitment reflects the ethos of the University as it places a strong value, not just on academic achievement, but also on the creation of the holistic.


The 2008 UCD honorary degree recipients are:

Olive Braiden - Degree of Doctor of Laws

Olive Braiden - Degree of Doctor of Laws   Olive Braiden has been a campaigner for   legislative reforms in the areas of women’s   rights for over 25 years.  From her early   days as a volunteer with the Dublin Rape   Crisis Centre to her campaign to highlight   the issue of sexual abuse across Europe, she has fought courageously to defend and protect traumatised victims and to change societal attitudes to these crimes of violence.

In August 2003 she was appointed Chair of the Arts Council.  A Human Rights Commissioner, a board member of the Courts Service and of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, she also chairs the Crisis Pregnancy Agency.  Appointed to the Public Service Benchmarking Body in 2006, she is also a member of the London 2012 Olympics Task Force.


Des Geraghty - Degree of Doctor of Laws

Des Geraghty - Degree of Doctor of Laws   Des Geraghty led Ireland’s largest trade       union (SIPTU) during the period of              greatest prosperity in the country’s             history and his role as a negotiator within    the social partnership helped change the    Ireland from a relatively poor, peripheral country who exported its young to the Celtic Tiger whose economic growth outstripped all of its EU partners for a decade.

A member of the European Parliament (1992-94), Des Geraghty served on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy.  He has written extensively on industrial relations and economic topics; he is also the author of a book on the singer Luke Kelly. He has managed a number of EU development projects under the NOW (New Opportunities for Women) Programme, and is currently Chairperson of the Institute for the Development of Employee Assistance Services (IDEAS).

Appointed to membership of the RTE Authority on two occasions, Des Geraghty is currently a member of the Board of Poetry Ireland.  He became an elected shareholder of the Abbey Theatre in 1998 and was appointed to the Board of FÁS the following year.  He served two three-year terms on the National Competitiveness Council (1997-2003) and is currently a member of the Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.  He also chairs the Affordable Homes Partnership.


Geraldine Kennedy - Degree of Doctor of Laws

As editor of the Irish Times, Geraldine Kennedy has strived to maintain the ethos of journalism through informed, investigative reporting and deep, analytical research.  No stranger to the pressures wielded by power, she has always stood up for right and truth and her influence as a major opinion leader has enabled journalists to bring issues of major national importance to the fore, which ensure the status quo is challenged and, when needed, changed.

Geraldine Kennedy’s early career in journalism saw her work for The Munster Express, The Cork Examiner and The Irish Times.  She was political correspondent and public affairs correspondent of The Sunday Tribune from 1980 to 1982, after which she worked for five years as the political correspondent of The Sunday Press.  Elected to Dáil Éireann in the general election of 1987, she was appointed the Progressive Democrats party spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland.  Also in 1987, Geraldine Kennedy and another journalist, Bruce Arnold, successfully sued the State for invasion of privacy in the unlawful tapping of their telephones.

In 1989, she returned to journalism with The Irish Times, where she was successively duty editor, political correspondent and political editor.  She was appointed editor of the same newspaper in 2002, becoming the first woman to attain this position.


Stephen O’Rahilly - Degree of Doctor of Science

Stephen O’Rahilly - Degree of Doctor of Science  The key to breakthroughs in medical             research is that step between the science   and the treatment:- what is more                 commonly known as translational research.    Stephen O’Rahilly is one of those medical     scientists who, through his work, seek to change the course of suffering for patients.

Since he was appointed Chair of Metabolic Medicine and Chair of Clinical Biochemistry and Medicine at the University of Cambridge, his research has been concerned with the elucidation of the basic causes of Type 2 diabetes and obesity at a molecular level. His contributions to translational research have been outstanding. He has acted as a Scientific Advisor to the Dublin Molecular Medicine Centre and the UCD Diabetes Research Centre. His work has uncovered several previously unrecognised genetic causes of these diseases, including some that are amenable to specific treatment.

Professor O’Rahilly, who continues to be actively involved in clinical practice and the teaching of clinical medical students, has won many awards for his research including the Society for Endocrinology Medal, the Graham Bull Prize of the Royal College of Physicians of London, the European Journal of Endocrinology Prize, the Novartis International Award for Clinical Research in Diabetes, the Heinrich Wieland Prize and the Rolf Luft Award. He was elected to the Royal Society in 2003.


Ji Baocheng - Degree of Doctor of Laws

Xu Zhihong – Degree of Doctor of Laws  For over a decade Professor Ji Baocheng   has been responsible for significant   achievements in education reform, not just   within his own university, (Renmin   University of China) but in the wider   Chinese context.

He is a Professor in the Business School of RUC and has been the President of the university since 2000, having previously held the post of Registrar.  The focus of Professor Ji’s research has been on market and commodity distribution, trade economics and marketing.

As Registrar and latterly as President of RUC, Professor Ji has also been responsible for significant achievements in education reform and education management.  He is currently a deputy of the tenth National People’s Congress; a member of the Academic Degree Commission of the State Council and its Discipline Assessment Group; a member of the Social Sciences Committee of the Ministry of Education; president of the Marketing Association of Chinese Universities; and vice-president of the China Education Association of International Exchange.


Jürgen Huss - Degree of Doctor of Science

Jürgen Huss has influenced silviculture throughout the world.  His research and teaching have influenced foresters in Europe, Latin America, and even here in Ireland where he has played an important role in influencing the Irish Government towards the sustainable development of the forestry sector.

Professor Huss has made a long-term contribution to Irish forestry.  He has had a close relationship with UCD and with the developing forestry sector in Ireland in the areas of teaching, research, policy development and international co-operation.  He was one of the initiators of the Silva network, a European network of forestry universities that enables many Irish forestry students to spend a semester abroad and many European students to come to UCD and experience the unique nature of Irish forestry.

The co-author (with Professor Emeritus Patrick M. Joyce) of a book on the selection and silviculture of broadleaved trees in Irish forestry, Professor Huss has been a significant influence on the Irish government towards the sustainable development of the forestry sector. 


Xu Zhihong – Degree of Doctor of Laws

Ji Baocheng - Degree of Doctor of Laws  Xu Zhihong has dedicated his life to             research into plant development and           plant biotechnology.    Throughout his         distinguished career his has focused on the   growth, development and genetic                 transformation of plants.

Professor Xu worked at the John Innes Institute, Norwich, and the University of Nottingham, developing a procedure to improve another culture in barley and a technique of protoplast-isolating from young roots that could significantly improve the culture of protoplast of legumes and brassicas.

President of China's oldest university, Peking University, since 1999, Professor Xu has also chaired the Chinese Society of Cell Biology and the National Committee of Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO.  He was Vice-president of the CAS from 1992 to 2003.

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UCD honours “catalysts of change”
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