Author and academic Colm Tóibín was honoured by The Open University (OU) with the award of Doctor of the University at a ceremony in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on Friday 20 October. Professor Tóibín had his award conferred alongside 258 graduates – of all ages and backgrounds and from a spectrum of careers – as well as fellow honorary graduate Professor Martin Bradley.
Professor Tóibín was recognised for services to the Arts and Sciences while Professor Bradley, formerly Chief Nursing Office for Northern Ireland, was awarded a Master of the University for his contribution to public services.
The Open University makes honorary awards in line with its mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas, and the promotion of social justice through the development of knowledge and skills.
Many of today’s 258 graduates have fitted their studies around work or family commitments; some have a disability or live in a remote or rural community, while others did not have traditional university entry qualifications, or came from low-income households. For all of them, today’s ceremony marks the culmination of years of hard work and commitment to learning.
One student is Anita Glenn, 37, from Craigavon, who graduated with a BA (Honours) in Business Management. Anita decided to study with The Open University to change her career path and because it meant she could keep working alongside her part-time studies. She says: “Given my circumstances of working full-time and raising two children, The Open University worked for me as I could study at my pace and in my own home, therefore my work and children remained unaffected.”
Studying with The Open University has enabled me to change my career as I am now working within Programme Management as a Coordinator. I have the desire to push myself further and continue to climb the corporate ladder.”
John D’Arcy, National Director of The Open University said:
“I offer a huge congratulations to all of our graduates today. Each one has worked incredibly hard, juggling their studies alongside their jobs, families and commitments. They have demonstrated how part-time higher education really can transform lives.
We are also delighted today to welcome our two exceptional honorary graduates to The Open University family.”
Colm Tóibín, Doctor of the University, said:
“The Open University has been an inspiration to the world. It has been one of the greatest innovations of the past half century. In a time when access to higher education seems more and more important, I am proud to receive this honour from The Open University.”
Martin Bradley, Master of the University, said:
“It is a great privilege to receive this Honorary Degree from The Open University - a university that has done so much to open up new and innovative pathways for students not only locally but nationally. These are pathways that lead to qualifications in higher education and opportunities to pursue careers in our local Health and Social Care services. As a nurse educationalist I am aware of the support and mentorship offered to our student nurses and of the quality and professionalism shown throughout The Open University’s programmes. A degree from the OU is one to be truly proud of.”