DCU Voices_HonConferring
Irish folk musician Moya Brennan and Avolon chief executive Dómhnal Slattery, May 2022

DCU confers six honorary doctorates

Musician Moya Brennan, businessman Dómhnal Slattery, and US Congressman Richard Neal were among six recipients of honorary doctorates from DCU in 2022.


At a special ceremony in Washington D.C. in March, DCU conferred the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) on Congressman Richard Neal, one of the most influential figures in American politics; Barbara Barrett, former US Secretary of the Air Force; and Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University.

“In honouring three exceptional Americans, we celebrate Ireland’s and DCU’s strong ties to the United States. We celebrate our honourees’ values, their contributions to the public good and achievement in their respective fields,” said Professor Dáire Keogh, DCU President.

“Their achievements in education, in business, in politics, and elsewhere aligns with the DCU mission to transform lives and societies. We are delighted and proud to honour them.”

In May, DCU conferred the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) on Irish folk musician Moya Brennan and Avolon chief executive Dómhnal Slattery. Delivering the citation for Moya Brennan, Dr Síle Denvir from DCU’s Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge, said: “Moya has an innate ability to find the heart of music, to reach the essence of a song or a tune, and to make the ordinary extraordinary. Her many accolades, including a Grammy and an Emmy, are testament to this.

“Moya has played on the greatest stages in the world with many, many famous singers and musicians, but her generosity of spirit and grounded connection with her roots always bring her back home to the stage her father carved out for her and for her siblings in Tábhairne Leo in Mín na Leice.”

Moya Brennan said: “I’m so thrilled and humbled to receive an honour such as this from an amazing university. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy. Singing and playing music for over 50 years makes this Honorary Doctorate something very special and I hope I can continue to use my talent to reach other frontiers and spread good will.

“It is especially wonderful that Dublin City University have set such importance on valuing, preserving and protecting the Irish language having, myself, collected and recorded songs as Gaeilge from my area over many years.” Delivering the citation for Dómhnal Slattery, Dr Cathal Guiomard, Assistant Professor in Aviation Management at DCU’s Business School, said: “Dómhnal Slattery has been the recipient of many honours, among them the Lewis L Glucksman Award for Ethical Leadership for his contribution to aviation, entrepreneurship and to the arts.

“He has been vocal on the need for the aviation firms like Avolon to be positive corporate citizens. He put words into action in the early days of the pandemic, when Avolon chartered three aircraft to fly millions of pieces of PPE from China to Ireland, an initiative carried out in conjunction with U2 and the aircraft leasing community in Ireland.” Dómhnal Slattery said: “I am proud to accept this honour from Dublin City University and delighted to be recognised by a university prized for its innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. The conferring of an Honorary Doctorate is a privilege but with it travels a responsibility.

“For me, that responsibility is to ensure the next generation of Irish entrepreneurs has all the supports to make their mark around the world — not just in business but in science, technology, the arts and the humanities. Ireland can be a centre for excellence for innovation on the global stage and I am committed to playing a role to support our future entrepreneurs and leaders.”

In June, DCU awarded a Doctor of Philosophy Honoris Causa to Sjur Bergan, outgoing Head of the Council of Europe’s Education Department. The ceremony took place as part of the 2022 Global Forum on Higher Education Leadership for Democracy, Sustainability, and Social Justice, an international gathering for higher education leaders.

Delivering the citation for Sjur Bergan, Ronaldo Munck, the Director of the Centre for Engaged Research at DCU, said: “It’s hard to think of another individual who has had such a positive and meaningful impact on Higher Education in a European and, indeed, in an international context. “As Head of Education at the Council of Europe over many years, his work opened new horizons for students and educators across Europe, gave refugees and asylum seekers opportunities to work and study, and reinforced the democratic and civic values of Europe’s Higher Education institutions.

“Despite his many achievements, Sjur has always been a modest person, who often plays down his contribution. Colleagues speak of him as an always helpful, and unfailingly polite person, even when under pressure. It is clear that recognition such as today’s honour, is not what drives him. It seems to those who know him that he is one of those rare individuals whose work is entirely inspired by his values — Fairness, Equality, and Inclusion.”