The conferring of an Honorary Doctorate of a University on any graduate is a singular honour which is deservedly treasured by the recipient and his or her family. Each year UCD awards a limited number of these distinctions only to graduates who have made an outstanding contribution to society in their chosen profession.
There was no award made to an Engineer in 2013. In 2014, UCD decided to honour an exceptional Engineer - Dr Liam Connellan. I first got to know Liam in Engineers Ireland as a very active senior engineer in the late 1990s as an active contributor to lectures and debates long after he retired as Chief Executive of IBEC (formerly the Confederation of Irish Industry when Liam joined). His committment to helping to grow the Irish economy and create jobs was obvious. He also appeared to have boundless energy and abiding interest in a whole range of engineering endeavours.
|UCD President, Dr. Andrew Deeks presenting Dr. Liam Connellan with the award|
It was only when he became President of Engineers Ireland (then the Institution of Engineers of Ireland) in 2001 that I learned of his leadership skills and his motivational speeches to a wide audience quoting the global greats like JFK to great effect. I recognised an exceptionally gifted communicator whose passion and commitment for his message engaged easily with his audience.
|Liam Connellan, President of Engineers Ireland (2001-2002)|
He then became in turn and sometime simultaneously President of the Irish Academy of Engineering, President of the Royal Dublin Society, Chairman of the National Roads Authority and Chairman of Voelia (Transport Energy Water) who built and run the Luas light rail network. He is an active member of the Board of the Peter McVerry Trust which assists homeless young men. The common thread running through all of this is his committment to an efficient but just society and to a growing Irish economy through the provision of essential public infrastructure in transport, energy and water.
On the international front he was on the Board of the Irish College in Paris and President of the German Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce. In terms of kinship with both of the great European powers there are few Irish people (if any) who have been awarded Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and also Chevalier of the Order of Merit of the Republic of France! Liam has both distinctions but they sit lightly on his shoulders for Liam is a humble man always concerned about everyone else's well being and not his own.After I became EGA President I was pleased to award the 2013 UCD EGA Distinguished Graduate Award to Liam Connellan which had been long overdue in my view. Looking back now over the years, I don't believe that I ever sought any other role model in my career other that the example of public service and the care of others that Liam sought. I was therefore deeply honoured to have been personally invited to his Conferring last Monday and to the celebratory dinner hosted by the President in his honour in Ardmore House Belfield. There I sat with his wife Marie and his lovely and talented family who rightly feel so proud of him as all members of the profession also feel those who are privileged to know him. He is a true icon of Irish Engineering.
|Incoming Dean of Engineering (post September 1st 2014), Prof. David Fitzpatrick, |
UCD President, Prof. Andrew Deeks, Dr. Liam Connellan and
UCD Dean of Engineering (pre September 1st 2014), Prof. Gerry Byrne