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Professor William James Smyth


Professor William James Smyth


Professor William Smyth has, in his recent appointment as Master of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, shown himself to be a distinguished leader in the field of Higher Education.  The complex negotiations concerning the institutional structure of St Patrick's College have been noted for the tolerant and conciliatory tone with which the Master has addressed them.  Professor Smyth, who moved to Maynooth as Professor of Geography in 1978 at the age of twenty nine, possesses a rare ability to bring together contrasting viewpoints.  Not only does he possess Irish, British and Canadian citizenships, he is an ex-Newry CBS student whose scholarly interests concern the history of the Orange Order.

In being appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Professor Smyth has consolidated his reputation as a competent, responsible and innovative administrator, perhaps one of "the young light-hearted masters of the waves", mentioned by Matthew Arnold in The Scholar-Gypsy.

The award that is presented today also marks the powerful contribution that St Patrick's College, Maynooth has made to Irish education.  In this, its Bicentennial year, we acknowledge the profound, continuing religious heritage of the College.  In recent years Maynooth has added a dynamic, secular institution to its foundation which has grown rapidly in the past decade.  The legacy of Reverend Professor Nicholas Callan, whose invention of the induction coil underpins the name of Maynooth in the field of science, still burns bright as shown by the rapid development of Science and Technology at the College.  This development will add to the excellent record in History, Classics and Celtic Studies, subjects in which Maynooth enjoys an international reputation.

Today's award marks the inestimable benefits which St Patrick's College, Maynooth has given to Irish education, to the Roman Catholic Church and to Irish society.  Our praise also extends to the clear-sighted modernisation of the College which, through the vision and guidance of Professor Smyth and his colleagues will enhance and develop the exemplary work for which St Patrick's is known.


It is a goal of the University of Limerick to work beyond the walls of its campus. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to offer our facilities to those who are pursuing knowledge, truth and understanding.

It is essential to recognise today social, charitable and personal contributions which have had a substantial and long-lasting impact on the well-being of what are commonly referred to as 'these islands'.

Sport is a unifying force - it brings together parishes, counties, provinces and the nation in support of a common cause and helps to boost national morale and raise the international profile of our country. It is therefore eminently appropriate that this university should recognise and honour those who epitomise the finest virtues of sport and who have contributed substantially to the enhancement of Ireland's sporting heritage.

The University of Limerick - honouring those who use their achievements to benefit the people of this city and region and show special appreciation to those who have contributed to the development of this great institution.

Demonstrating our respect for cultural achievements on the national and international stage.

There is no idea so uplifting as the idea of service to humanity.

Woodrow Wilson

We acknowledge the remarkable contribution of individual's to the betterment of the lives of those past, present, and to come.

UL Ceremonies
University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
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