Father O’Brien was a cherished Concordia professor and highly regarded author, speaker and administrator. In 1965 the Jesuit priest founded the Communication Arts program, the first university communication studies program in Canada, at Loyola College, one of Concordia’s founding institutions.
Communication Arts was renamed the Department of Communication Studies in 1977. In its five decades there have been more than 4,700 graduates from the department, many going on to help redefine the media and communications landscape.
The long list of high-achieving alumni includes journalist Hana Gartner, BA 70 (the fifth estate), former CNN news anchor Brian Nelson, BA 70, movie producer Don Carmody, BA 72 (Chicago), La Presse columnist Nathalie Petrowski, BA 76, TV producer René Balcer, BA 78 (Law & Order), movie producer Kevin Tierney, GrDip 79 (Bon Cop, Bad Cop), journalist and author Maziar Bahari, BA 93 (Then They Came for Me), TV writer Barry Julien, BA 94 (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), Virgin Radio 96 host Isabelle Racicot, BA 95, Radio-Canada reporter Davide Gentile, BA 96, and Arcade Fire’s Regine Chassagne, BA 98.
Under O’Brien’s tutelage, Concordia also offered the first graduate diploma and joint PhD communication studies programs in Canada.
O’Brien retired from the university in 1986. To recognize his exemplary career achievements, Concordia named him its first Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 1987 and bestowed upon him the Loyola Medal, one of the university’s highest honours, in 2011.
O’Brien recently returned to Loyola Campus at Homecoming 2015 to help commemorate communication studies’ 50th anniversary.