The death has occurred of University of Limerick President Emeritus John O’Connor.
John O’Connor played a critical role in the foundation and development of University of Limerick through a lifelong service to the university. He joined the then National Institute of Higher Education as Finance Officer in the year of its establishment, 1972. In 1980 he was appointed Director of Finance and Physical Development and subsequently, in 1998, he became Vice President Administration. John O’Connor then took up the role of Acting President of University of Limerick from April 2006 to May 2007 following the resignation on medical grounds of President Emeritus Professor Roger Downer. He retired from UL in 2012.
“John O’Connor leaves a legacy behind him at University of Limerick. He saw no bounds to the potential of the university and his vision and drive helped to establish one of the finest university campuses in Europe at UL. John will forever be an integral part of the history of UL, he started his job as Finance Officer on 2nd October 1972 the very day that the first lectures were delivered at NIHE Limerick. He went on to lead the capital development of the fledgling institute and in doing so secured the first European Investment Bank Loan to any university in Europe. In all of this he espoused the pioneering spirit that is a legacy to the university to this very day”, said Dr Des Fitzgerald, UL President.
Mr O’Connor was a graduate of National University of Ireland, Galway where he studied History, Classics and Philosophy. He has also pursued Postgraduate Studies in Japanese Studies at the University of Limerick and Higher Education Studies at the Institute of Education Management in Harvard University. He was a Chartered Accountant and worked in Cement Roadstone Holding Ltd and Price Waterhouse Cooper previous to joining UL in 1972.
UL Chancellor Mary Harney said, ‘John O’Connor played a significant role in the evolution not only of UL, but of the broader Irish university sector by initiating many innovative projects and by example with the realisation of the ambitious vision for University of Limerick.’
In 2016 President Emeritus, John O’ Connor presented his memoir, entitled ‘Memoir of A Privileged Time A personal history of the development of the University of Limerick 1972-2012 and pre-history 1862-1972’ to the University of Limerick Oral History Project (ULOHP) digital archive at the Glucksman Library and it may be accessed online here.
“We are very fortunate to have had John O’Connor’s dedication and drive for University of Limerick and we are grateful to have his memoir as an important contribution to the institutional history of UL. On behalf of the entire UL community I wish to express my condolences to his wife Seosaimhin, daughters Aine and Muireann and sons John and Hugh,” continued Dr Fitzgerald.