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Honorary degree citation - Eric O'Connor*

By: Russell Breen, June 1980

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Reverand Eric O'Connor, S.J., distinguished educator, scholar and founding member of the Thomas More Institute for Adult Education.

Father O'Connor is a man who embodies the very finest pedagogical traditions which this University has tried to reflect in its Faculty of Arts and Science. On that basis alone, the honour which we bestow upon him today is more than merited. Holder of an M.A. in Mathematics and Physics, a Licentiate in Theology and a Ph.D. in pure Mathematics, Father O'Connor has attempted the great synthesis between the liberal arts and the scientific world views, and has been an outstanding example to all of us that such a marriage is both possible and indeed imperative. Not only has this synthesis been a significant personal achievement - but Father O'Connor has also been acutely sensitive to the unspoken needs of the community. The mark of the truly learned man lies in the quality of his service to his fellows. At once a scientist and a humanist, Father O’Connor has combined a brilliant academic career with a sustained interest in educational innovation.

From 1941 to 1974, he was Professor of Mathematics at Loyola College, and was instrumental in the early development of science programmes at the then predominantly liberal arts institution. The excellence and wide appeal of these programmes in Concordia's Faculty of Arts and Science stand as witness to Father O'Connor's foresight and diligence. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Loyola College from 1970 to 1974, and a member of the Board of Governors of Concordia University from 1974 to 1978.

In 1945, Father O'Connor was a founding member of the Thomas More Institute for Adult Education, and served as its Dean and Vice-President from its beginnings until 1962. He is currently President and Director of Studies of the Institute. Father O'Connor has brought his wisdom and exceptional pedagogical and administrative talents to the important field of adult education. This University, in its sustained and honoured tradition of service to persons returning to university life, has been inspired by Father O'Connor's tireless efforts.

In its thirty-five years of operation, the Thomas More Institute, operating out of small quarters on Drummond Street, has welcomed close to 26,000 adult members of our Montréal community in its programmes. Its graduating students have come from every walk of life. The Institute, a well-respected part of Montréal 's educational milieu, has attracted a national and international reputation for the excellence of its offerings and the quality of its instruction. There can be no doubt that this has been due, in large measure, to Father O'Connor's leadership and guidance. As an acknowledgement of the great importance of the field of adult education, the Government of Québec has recently set up a commission of study with the mandate to explore this entire field and to elaborate wide-ranging policies for its further development. Father O'Connor, a pioneer in adult education, will certainly have many well-founded insights to offer the commission.

"Service" is the word which perhaps best characterizes Father O'Connor's many years with the Thomas More Institute. In all that time, he has never accepted any salary whatever. Father O'Connor's efforts have been tireless, his achievements outstanding and his spirit of service truly exemplary.

Mr. Chancellor, it is a distinct honour and privilege for me, on behalf of the Senate and by authority of the Board of Governors, to present to you, Reverend Eric O'Connor that you confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased

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