Castleknock College Union

Prof. John Kelly, class '53, Hon. Doctorate from Bethlehem University

Where are they now

Jun 29, 2012
Prof. John Kelly, class '53, Hon. Doctorate from Bethlehem University -

The Union wishes to extend its heartiest congratulations Professor John Kelly, class '53, the recent recipient of a Honorary Doctorate from Bethlehem University, and we are delighted to republish below a copy of the citation and acceptance speeches.

JOHN KELLY from Newry attended Knock from 1947-53 following in the footsteps of his brothers, Eddie, class '48 and Jimmy, class '50, who in turn sent his son, Mark, class '84. John J. as we knew him reinforced the family tradition of friendliness, gamesmanship and dedication. The records show that he combined academic and sporting talents very effectively and was a popular appointment as head prefect in 1952/53.

The 1986 chronicle reports that "John graduated from the School of Engineering in 1957 and obtained a Ph.D. in 1968. He was appointed a lecturer in Engineering in 1963 and has been Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture since 1979. He is a member of the Governing Body of both UCD and DCU and of the Senate of NUI. In 1986 he was appointed Registrar of University College Dublin. John ... is the principal author and editor of numerous reports commissioned by the EU on Higher Education in Europe and the Middle East. He has earned great international respect as Director of HEDCO projects in the University of Jordan in Amman, and at the Higher Institute for Advanced Science & Technology in Damascus, Syria. In 1985 his obvious concern for the Third World was recognised by his appointment to be Chairman of Higher Education for Development Cooperation.”

It is no small wonder thus that this long service record has been recognised by the award of an Honorary Doctorate.

Reference to his sporting prowess was alluded to in the citation speech, but perhaps not surprisingly they missed one key sport - water skiing - for the 1964 chronicle reports that John travelled to Amsterdam to captain the Irish Water Ski team in the Northern European Championships! We assume John has now retired his skis but he remains active on the academic front and is currently President of the Independent College Dublin and Executive Director of the Ireland Canada University Foundation.

We wish John and his family continued success and once again congratulate him of the award of this prestigious Honorary Doctorate from Bethlehem University.

Born on 11 May 1935 in Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland, the fourth of seven children of Rita Curran and James Vincent Kelly, you, Professor John Kelly, were educated in the Convent School and the Christian Brothers School in Newry, then on to Saint Patrick’s College Armagh and Castleknock College Dublin to complete your secondary education – all the while pursuing athletic and leadership roles as captain of 14s Rugby and Head Prefect.

You entered the prestigious University College Dublin at the age of 18 to pursue a profession in chemical engineering – and eventually found a home and opportunities for leadership within the University College Dublin that brought you, Providentially, into contact with Bethlehem University in the Holy Land in a most substantial and profound manner.

Having earned your bachelors degree in chemical engineering in 1957, you began a career with the oil industry as a process engineer in the United Kingdom and a process leader, manager, and engineer in Ireland before returning to University College Dublin in 1963 to share your knowledge and inspire the next generation of professionals in your chosen field as a lecturer in chemical engineering.

Professor John Kelly, you are a man of warmth and love who has been gifted by God with intellectual acumen, generosity of heart, and a passionate sense of faithfulness to justice and integrity. Having been well established as a professional and while also engaged in further education towards your PhD in chemical engineering, it was on 24 May 1968 that you married Nora, the love of your life at University Church, St. Stephen’s Green, in Dublin. It is from that point onward that your life’s journey seems to have been given even greater purpose and direction by God with the blessings of the births of your four children: James, Mary Louise, Michael, and John.

During these years you also took on even more leadership roles of increasing responsibility at University College Dublin as the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Founder of the UCD Engineering Graduates Association, member of the Governing Body, and Registrar / Deputy President of University College Dublin.

It was also during this time that you first became involved with Bethlehem University – another relationship that has continued to deepen through the years. It was in the early 1980s that you learned of the founding of Bethlehem University and, as an accomplished academic, you quickly became involved in what was to become a commitment of some 30 years of engagement in the academic life and development of Bethlehem University. With the support of colleagues from University College Dublin and elsewhere in the European Union, you have been faithful in your commitment to support the academic development of Bethlehem University, not least through times of Israeli military invasion and intense conflict. You have remained not only engaged in the process of academic enhancement, but you have also been articulate and effective as an advocate for justice and the right of Palestinians to pursue their education through your writings, speeches, and actions. You continue to this day to foster academic enrichment and substantial support as the Chairman of the Friends of Bethlehem University in Ireland.

Professor John Kelly, Bethlehem University is indebted to you for your involvement, commitment, faithfulness, integrity, and leadership through these 30 years – and we are appreciative of your steadfast solidarity in advancing the academic life of Bethlehem University. You have taught us much. You have been an inspiration to us in the Gaelic tradition of dílseacht, tairise, agus cairdeas buan: loyalty, faithfulness, and lasting friendship. In recognition of all of this, your educational and inspirational service of God’s people in Ireland and in Palestine, it is a distinct privilege for Bethlehem University to hereby award you the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, on this 29th day of June 2012.

Your Excellency, Chancellor of the University, Archbishop Antonio Franco, Vice Chancellor Br. Peter Bray, Distinguished guests, local & national Government representatives, honourable Ambassadors and country representatives, academic colleagues of Bethlehem University, graduates of the class of 2012, and parents and friends of today’s graduates.

Ash- koora-kum li Da’a wati

Li- Hoo-duur
Ha-tha al hafl al azeem
Wa you shar rifoony
Wa fakh-roon-lee an akoona buy-nakoom
Fee ha-tha al yum
A’ala Ard (i) Falasteen

It is indeed a great honour for me to be here with you today and I thank you Brother Peter and your De La Salle Brothers and your academic colleagues for granting me the extraordinary privilege to be an honorary doctorate of this great university and I thank you all here today for allowing me to be part of this splendid ceremony in this great country of Palestine.

There is no other university in the entire world from which I would prefer to have this honour.

I have no doubt that when the academic history of these days is told, Bethlehem University will be seen as one of the great universities of this era. It is some 30 years since I first walked through the gates of this university, and in the years since, I have marvelled at the extraordinary courage and determination of the De La Salle Brothers, the staff of the University, both academic and administrative, and the students to maintain the operation and academic development in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties. As a member of the European University Evaluation team some years ago, I noted then that the academic standards of Bethlehem University are of the highest international level, and I know that they still are. Your graduates have performed exceptionally well in reading for higher degrees in other universities, in the USA, in Europe and in my own university, University College Dublin. I have marvelled at the peace and tranquillity within the walls of this University, truly an oasis of peace as Br. Peter has often described it, when outside these walls, the world seemed to be falling apart. Bethlehem University has indeed been an oasis of academic and political peace in this troubled land. In particular, I have marvelled at the atmosphere of friendship and conviviality in the student community, where the students study and inter-mix freely together giving an example to the rest of the world outside on how we should live together in a culture of differing views and beliefs. And I have seen at first hand, the vital leadership which the graduates of the university have contributed to the ongoing industrial, economic, social, artistic and medical infrastructures of Palestine, despite this cruel and illegal occupation.

In particular I wish to salute you graduates on this your day. This is your day and I congratulate you on getting here today. I know that it has not been easy and I have some small idea of the difficulties which each of you have had in growing up in this lovely country, of the harassment which you suffered in your daily mobility travelling to and from this campus, and of the great courage and grit you have shown in not giving in and in continuing to complete your studies to arrive here today for your graduation. There can be no graduation class in the wider university world which has had the problems you have had to endure throughout your years of study.

I congratulate you all ~ well done. Mabruk all.

The great courage and humanity of the Palestinian people, which I have seen exemplified by the staff and students of this university is best told in the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, as in his poem Bitaqat Huwiyya when he says:

Saage-jill ana Araby

Write down
I am an Arab
And I work with comrades in a stone quarry
And my children are eight in number
For them I hack out
A loaf of bread
A school exercise book
From the rocks
Rather than begging for alms
At your door
Rather than making myself small
At your doorstep
Does this bother you?

Saage – jill ana Araby

I come from Ireland, a small island in the North Atlantic of size not very different from Palestine, and we were occupied for some 800 years until very recently by a hostile neighbouring country, now I hastily add, a very friendly neighbour, but there were very difficult times for past generations, with persecutions, famines and civil wars, but we have survived as I know for sure you will here. Perhaps that explains why there is enormous support in Ireland for Palestine and anger at Israel’s continuing illegal occupation. I pray that your occupation won’t last 800 years like we had in Ireland, or even a further 8, and that the independence which you must by right get, will be realised very soon.

The wisdom of every generation is new, and you are the new generation. The world here and everywhere is shifting under our feet and today we turn to you. You, the new graduates of Bethlehem University, are the promise of a more equal world; you are our hope for a brave new world and I encourage you to accept the challenge. Please allow me to recommend an over riding principle in your future life mission. ……….The greatest exercise of the human heart is not running the marathon, nor is it climbing Mount Everest, or even the frightful thought of swimming across the Dead Sea, but rather reaching down and lifting another up. This is the philosophy which I encourage you to bring into the brave new world you are creating, and in so doing, you will leave this earth a better place than when you entered it.

Finally, I congratulate you once more on reaching this day, and I thank you for allowing me to be part of it. I am a bit overwhelmed with this signal honour, and in offering you my sincere congratulations, I include also your parents and members of family who have helped you along the way over your years here in Bethlehem University.

In conclusion, please allow me to thank my wife Nora who is with me here today for her love and great support over the years in my many involvements with Bethlehem University.

Have a great day.

Saage-jill ana Araby
Professor John Kelly