New honorary degrees to be awarded by Trinity

Trinity will award five people with honorary degrees this week

Fintan O’Toole, Mary Harney, Joan Freeman, Michael Gazzaniga and Professor Terry Hughes have been announced as Trinity’s 2019 honorary degree recipients. The ceremony will be held at College this Friday. 

Friday will mark the first honorary degree ceremony for the newly elected Chancellor of the University, Professor Mary Aleese. She took over for Mary Robinson who held the role from 1998 until her term ended in May of this year. Professor McAleese is the only candidate nominated by the twenty-nine members of the University Senate. 

Fintan O’Toole a columnist, literary editor and drama critic for The Irish Times will be conferred in Friday’s ceremony. Earlier this month, he published his book The Politics of Pain: Postwar England and the Rise of Nationalism. In 2017, O’Toole also won the Orwell Prize for Journalism for his commentary on the Brexit referendum.

Former Tánaiste and government minister, Mary Harney will also receive an honorary degree from Trinity this week. Harney graduated from Trinity with a Bachelor of Arts in Economic and Social Studies. During her time there, she became the first female auditor of the College Historical Society (The Hist). Harney is currently the Chancellor of the University of Limerick.

Also to be conferred on Friday is Joan Freeman, a mental health activist and former CEO of Pieta House. Freeman founded Pieta House a suicide intervention charity established in 2006. She also launched the annual fundraising event Darkness into Light. In 2016, Freeman was nominated by then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny to Seanad Éireann.

Michael Gazzaniga, another recipient of an honorary degree, is the Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, and Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Gazzaniga is known for his pioneering research into split-brain syndrome. This condition is the partial or complete severing of the corpus calcium which is the bundle of nerves that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

The final recipient to be conferred on Friday is Professor Terry Hughes. Known as a champion of climate change, he is the Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. Hughes is an expert in reef sustainability and has conducted extensive work on global coral bleaching caused by climate change.

The degree ceremony will last for an hour, and will be conducted in Latin. The candidates will be conferred with honorary degrees at the end of the ceremony in the Examination Hall, after Trinity’s graduating PhD students.

Shauna Bannon Ward

Shauna Barron Ward is a staff writer at Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister Law student.