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President of Ireland to Address Commencement


Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, will deliver Fordham University’s 165th commencement speech on May 22, and will receive an honorary doctorate of laws, the Office of the University President has announced.

(See the University’s Media Page to view the ceremony live online.)

(See also “Seven Notables to Receive Honorary Degrees at 2010 Commencement” for other honorary degree recipients, and Fordham’s Commencement Page for times and locations of diploma ceremonies and all other Commencement-related information.)

“We are deeply honored to have President McAleese deliver the 165th Commencement address at Fordham,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of the University. “In her leadership, integrity and scholarship, President McAleese is the model to which our graduates should aspire. We look forward to bringing her into the Fordham family.”

Born in Belfast, Mary McAleese was a barrister and law professor before becoming the second woman President of Ireland, a post she has held since 1997. In addition, she is the world’s first woman to succeed another woman as an elected head of state. Her birth in Belfast means she is the first President to have come from Northern Ireland, where she grew up through the sectarian strife known as “The Troubles.”

President McAleese is an experienced broadcaster, having worked as a current affairs journalist and presenter in radio and television with Radio Telefís Éireann. She has a longstanding interest in many issues concerned with justice, equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation.

She graduated in law from the Queen’s University of Belfast in 1973 and was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1974. The following year, she was appointed Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin.

In 1987, she returned to Queen’s University, to become director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. Seven years later, she became the first female pro-vice chancellor at that university.

After ascending to the high post, President McAleese described the theme of her time in office as “building bridges.” She regularly visits Northern Ireland, where people from all sides of the  community have welcomed her warmly.

President McAleese was recently listed as number 74 on Forbes magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful women in the world.


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