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Honorary degree citation - Brian O'Neill Gallery

By: Michael Kenneally, November 2010

Madam President and Vice-Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Mr. Brian O’Neill Gallery, spirited civic leader, champion of Irish history and culture in Canada, and great friend of Concordia University.

Few who encounter Brian Gallery come away immune to his enthusiasm for life and his unwavering commitment to higher education. When he decides to support a project he becomes an unstoppable force of nature. Deeply committed to civic leadership, has alderman and commissioner of public services for the City of Westmount, Mayor of Westmount for four years, and Quebec director of the Canadian Council of Christian and Jews from 1983 to 1985.

Grâce à son sens aigu des affaires, M. Gallery siège à une douzaine de conseils d’administration, et ce, tant pour des entreprises que pour des organismes communautaires. Il a notamment été directeur et président intérimaire du Canadien National ainsi que directeur de la Société pour l’expansion des exportations.

Mr. Gallery’s roots in Montreal and with Concordia are deep. His great-grandfather was Sir William Hingston, a former Mayor of Montreal, distinguished surgeon and banker. Hingston Hall on Concordia’s Loyola Campus is named after Sir William’s oldest son, Reverend William F. Hingston, a Superior of the Jesuits for Canada. He also served as rector of Loyola College from 1918 to 1925. Sir William’s youngest
son, Dr. Donald Hingston, was the founder of Montreal’s St. Mary’s Hospital.

Over the last 15 years Mr. Gallery has tirelessly supported the Canadian Irish Studies Foundation. His work began in 1995 when he and others took up the challenge of creating a $2.3 million endowment to finance Irish Studies as an academic discipline at Concordia. When more funding was needed, he became Chair of the foundation in 1999, a position he currently holds, and re-committed himself with exemplary gusto to the viability of Irish Studies at the University.

He has shown vision and leadership in facilitating a model partnership between the university, community and government to ensure the Foundation’s success. The Foundation has raised approximately $7 million in endowment funds and provided an additional $1 million to Concordia University
to support the development of its School of Canadian Irish Studies.

His leadership and unrelenting dedication spring from his desire to share with all Canadians the role the Irish have played in the development of the Country. He recognizes the story of the Irish in Canada and the history of Ireland itself are case studies for larger issues that are acutely relevant for other cultural and national groups. With its multidisciplinary focus, the School has rapidly established a distinguished international academic reputation for the calibre of its programs, its high-profile visiting scholars and lecturers, and the more than twenty scholarships the foundation provides annually to students. These transformative accomplishments would not have been possible without the passion, vision and tireless energy of Brian Gallery.

Montreal’s Irish community has also acknowledged his contributions by appointing him Chief Reviewing Officer of the St. Patrick’s Parade in 1993, naming him Montreal Irishman of the Year in 2000, and making him an Honorary Lifetime Member of the St. Patrick’s Society in 2008.

Brian Gallery est lauréat de nombreux prix et distinctions, dont la médaille de la Confédération du Canada et la médaille du jubilé de Sa Majesté la Reine Elizabeth II. Il représente avec fierté une génération de dirigeants communautaires et d’entreprise qui se caractérisent par leur sens du devoir et leur engagement à l’égard de l’enseignement supérieur.

He is an individual who combines the capacity to dream big dreams with the practical skills to ensure that they become reality. Consequently, current students, future generations of students, and Concordia University itself are the beneficiaries of this exceptional accomplishment.

Madam President and Vice-Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Brian O’Neill Gallery so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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