NUI Galway Honorary Degrees Conferring Ceremony

Pictured at NUI Galway honorary conferring ceremony ( l-r): John McNamara, businessman and philanthropist; Fintan O’Toole, Journalist; Dr Kristina Johnson, former US Under Secretary for Energy; and Professor Jane Grimson, Engineer and STEM advocate.
Jun 09 2017 Posted: 16:08 IST

NUI Galway today conferred Honorary Doctorates on The Irish Times journalist, Fintan O’Toole; Engineer and former US Under Secretary for Energy, Dr Kristina Johnson; businessman John McNamara; and Professor Jane Grimson Engineer and STEM advocate.

Speaking at the conferring ceremony, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said:  “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured this year form a particularly distinguished group. Each one has made an outstanding and distinctive contribution to the diverse fields of literature and journalism, business, science and engineering, public administration and philanthropy. NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise these exceptional individuals.”

Fintan O'Toole 
Fintan O'Toole is a columnist with The Irish Times and winner of the 2017 European Press Prize for commentary. He is also Leonard L. Milberg visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University. 

Born in Dublin in 1958, he has been drama critic of In Dublin magazine, The Sunday Tribune, the New York Daily News, and The Irish Times and Literary Adviser to the Abbey Theatre. He contributes regularly to the New York Review of Books and The Guardian

His new book on Bernard Shaw will appear in 2017 and Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks, which he edited, has recently been published by the Royal Irish Academy. Other books include A History of Ireland in 100 ObjectsEnough is EnoughShip of Fools,  The Irish Times Book of the 1916 RisingWhite Savage: William Johnson and The Invention of America,  Shakespeare is Hard but so is Life;  and A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Kristina M. Johnson
Dr Kristina Johnson received her B.S., M.S. and PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University, and is currently the CEO of Cube Hydro Partners.  Prior to Cube Hydro, Dr Johnson was the Under Secretary of the United States Department of Energy.

She has been Provost and Senior Vice-President for Academic Affairs at the JohnsHopkins University, Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and was a NATO post-doctoral fellowat Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Johnson’s academic awards include the Dennis Gabor Prize for creativity andinnovation in modern optics, the John Fritz Medal (2008), widely considered thehighest award in the engineering profession and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. 

She received the Society of Women Engineers Lifetime Achievement Award, theWoman of Vision Award for Leadership by the Anita Borg Institute for Women andTechnology (2010), “40 years of Title IX -  40 Women Who Have Made an Impact” by ESPNW.

Recognized for her work in technology transfer and entrepreneurship by the States ofColorado and North Carolina, she received the 2010 Milton Steward Award from the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC) and co-founded ColorLink, Inc., whichwas sold to RealD, and is responsible for 3D effects in movies such as Avatar, Gravity and 300 others. 

Dr Johnson serves on the board of directors of Cisco Systems and AES.

She has published 149 refereed articles and holds 118 U.S. and International patents.  She has received honorary degrees from the University of Alabama at Huntsville, TuftsUniversity, Trinity College, Dublin and McGill University, Montreal, Canada

John MacNamara
John MacNamara was born in Dublin in 1944 and raised from an early age in Birr Co. Offaly. He received his primary education in Birr and boarded in St. Flannan’s College Ennis for his secondary education, completing his Leaving Cert there in 1961.

In 1962 he joined the National Bank, subsequently the Bank of Ireland, serving in different roles in Dublin up to 1982 when he moved to Galway as Regional Manager for Galway and Mayo. In September 1990 he was appointed General Manager West with responsibility for 81 branches over 10 counties. He retired from the Bank in 2001. He holds a BComm and MEconSc from UCD.

John is married to Mary and they have four children and seven grandchildren. Three of John and Mary’s children attended NUI Galway for their undergraduate study, with two receiving postgraduate qualifications.

John joined the Board of Galway University Foundation on its establishment in 1998 at the invitation of the then President of NUI Galway, Dr Patrick F. Fottrell, and has gone on to serve four terms as Chairman. Under his leadership, and with the support of the directors, chief executive and staff of the Foundation, significant philanthropic funds have been raised for the infrastructure of the campus.

Since 1998 the Foundation has raised over €145 million directly from philanthropy, leveraging significant additional matching funds, thus enabling over €200 million of investment for flagship University buildings including the new Sports Centre, Bailey Allen Wing and Cultural Centre, Lifecourse Institute, Biomedical Sciences Building, Alice Perry Engineering Building, Lambe Institute for Translational Research and O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance.

Since his retirement John has served on the board of the Western Development Commission and on the Galway Harbour Board. John has also been involved in charitable and social causes and is currently Chairman of Cancer Care West.

Jane Grimson
Professor Jane Grimson was the first woman to graduate with a degree in Engineering from Trinity College following which she obtained her masters and doctorate in Computer Science from the Universities of Toronto and Edinburgh, respectively. She returned to Trinity as a lecturer in 1980 where she also served as Dean of Engineering, Pro-Dean of Research and Vice Provost. Prior to her retirement in 2014, she was seconded as Director of Health Information and then as Acting Chief Executive of the Health Information and Quality Authority.

She has published widely in the field of Health Informatics and was awarded the O’Moore Medal in 2007 for her contribution to the field. Jane is also a Past President of Engineers Ireland, the Irish Academy of Engineering, the Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland and the Irish Computer Society. She is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow and Vice President of the Royal Irish Academy and of the Royal Academy of Engineering. She served as Chair of the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, was a member of the Board of Science Foundation Ireland, of the European Research Advisory Board, and of the Executive the European Science Foundation. Jane is currently a member of the Health Research Board and of the Council of the Royal Irish Academy.

Jane has been involved for many years in the initiatives to promote the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in engineering and in academia. She was involved in the establishment of the STEPS programme in Engineers Ireland and WiSER (Women in Science and Engineering Research) at Trinity College) and is an active member of WITS (Women in Science and Technology). She chaired the Gender Equality Task Force at NUI Galway from 2015-2016 and is currently a member of the Advisory Committee on Gender Equality at the University.


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