May 03, 2007
A private convocation ceremony attended by more than 150 and
hosted by Rev.
Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of St. John’s University,
welcomed Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, to the Queens Campus
earlier today. At the convocation, President McAleese accepted an
Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree conferred by Rev. Harrington, C.M.
in the School of Law’s Belson Moot Courtroom.
“I am proud to now be known as an honorary alumnus of St. John’s
University,” said President McAleese after her conferral. “The
Vincentian charisma which underpins this university is very
familiar territory to me. The Vincentians are current chaplains to
me, as Irish President, and from my early teenage years I have been
a disciple of St. Vincent de Paul.”
President McAleese, currently on a three-city, five-day tour in
the U.S., held the crowd’s attention with a captivating speech
outlining Ireland’s many advances in world economy, growth in
population, education in the form of science and technology and the
anticipated breakthrough peace process occurring in Northern
Ireland next week.
“The new Ireland will be one of peace, prosperity and
partnership and we would not have had that opportunity without our
friends here (in the States),” President McAleese said.
But the main thrust of President McAleese’s words kept coming
back to the root of a Vincentian philosophy that is near and dear
to her heart and one that is shared by the University in its
“I am proud to say, like the students of St. John’s, that I’ve
been shaped and challenged by the Vincentian value system,”
President McAleese added. “I know, without ever being told, that in
this place the service of those in need is a priority and a
Rev. Harrington, C.M. expressed his excitement on a personal and
professional level for the opportunity to confer an honorary degree
to President McAleese because he, “being as Irish as one can be
without being born in Ireland,” takes great pride in following in
the footsteps of former Irish-American past presidents of St.
“Ireland has played a very significant role in our history and
many Irish-Americans have led this institution for 137 years. We
truly celebrate their rich tradition here and that is never more
evident than when we, as a University, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
in March. Well, today St. Patrick’s Day has come a second time (in
celebrating President McAleese’s visit),” Rev. Harrington, C.M.
said. “So I wish you all a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”
The convocation began with a welcome by Julia A. Upton, RSM,
Ph.D., Provost of St. John’s University, followed by opening
remarks from Denis P. Kelleher, Chair of the Board of Trustees at
St. John’s University and CEO of Wall Street Access, and the
reading of the formal citation by James P. Pellow,
Ed.D., Executive Vice President and COO at St. John’s
“The story of St. John’s University is the story of New York
City and the story of America,” Kelleher said. “We celebrate our
great heritage today and I am proud to stand here as an
Irish-American, graduate of St. John’s and I am most grateful to
President McAleese for her gracious appearance. This is truly a
historic day for our University.”
Media interested in more information about today’s convocation
ceremony can contact Dominic Scianna, Director of Media Relations
at St. John’s by calling (718) 990-6185 or emailing inquiries to email@example.com.
Details about President McAleese’s visit to the U.S. are handled
by Christina McElwaine, Press Officer, Consulate General of
Ireland. McElwaine can be reached by calling (212) 319-2559; cell:
(917) 868-5762 or e-mailing requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.