News release

Concordia University community mourns the passing of its first rector

Dr. John O’Brien guided the merger of two diverse institutions

MONTREAL, December 19, 2011 – Dr. John O’Brien, Concordia University’s first rector, passed away in Montreal on December 16 at the age of 80.

John O’Brien was a respected scholar of economics who began his teaching career in 1954 at Sir George Williams University, one of Concordia’s two founding institutions. A gifted administrator, he quickly progressed through various administrative posts, becoming the last principal of Sir George Williams University in 1969 and the first rector of Concordia University.

O’Brien was instrumental in successfully integrating Sir George Williams’ hallmark connection with the community and Loyola College’s dedication to academia upon their merger to create Concordia University in August of 1974.

A quiet, dignified man, O’Brien was a true champion of the newly established Concordia University. His dedicated energy, firm focus and thoughtful foresight were essential in this great endeavour.

“John’s commitment to Concordia was unwavering,” says Concordia President and Vice-Chancellor, Frederick Lowy. “Even after a well-deserved retirement from teaching in 1996, he continued to serve as Speaker of Senate for 11 years, a role he cherished and executed with exceptional poise and professionalism.”

In 2004, O’Brien was awarded an honorary degree from Concordia for his extraordinary vision, leadership and dedication to the institution. A scholarship in his name was established in 1984.

The Concordia community extends its condolences to John O’Brien’s family.


Fiona Downey
Fiona Downey
Public Affairs
514-848-2424, ext. 2518

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