UPEI expresses sorrow at the passing of Dr. Brendan O’Grady

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Dr. Brendan O'Grady accepts his 2017 Founders award from Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz. Looking on is Megan Rix, VP Student Life, UPEI Student Union, who read the citation for Dr. O'Grady.

University of Prince Edward Island President and Vice-Chancellor Alaa Abd-El-Aziz issued a statement today on the passing of UPEI Founder, honorary degree recipient, and professor emeritus, Dr. Brendan O’Grady.

“On behalf of UPEI students, faculty, staff, and alumni, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Dr. O’Grady,” said UPEI President and Vice-Chancellor Alaa Abd-El-Aziz. “Dr. O’Grady’s contributions as a passionate educator, a meticulous scholar, and a great lover of literature and Irish culture will be remembered forever.”

The son of Irish immigrants, Dr. O’Grady grew up with a deep appreciation of the value of education. He graduated in 1947 from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, and then earned a master’s degree at Columbia University while at the same time teaching at Power Memorial Academy in New York City. In 1948 he began teaching at St. Dunstan’s College as he continued his education, receiving his PhD from the University of Ottawa. First at St. Dunstan’s College and University and then at the University of Prince Edward Island, he demonstrated his great passion for and commitment to teaching and his students. At St. Dunstan’s, he served as professor and chair of the Department of English and as dean of studies and academic vice-president. He was a member of the planning committee that led to the formation of the University of Prince Edward Island in 1969. Following the establishment of the new university, he served for many years as president of the St. Dunstan’s University Board of Governors.

In 1990 he received an honorary degree from UPEI for his scholarly work on the historical connections between Prince Edward Island and Ireland, and after his retirement in 1996, he was named professor emeritus. Following his retirement, he continued to share his vast knowledge of literature as an instructor for Seniors College of PEI. In 2012 he was presented with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, honouring his long career as educator and scholar. In 2017 he was named a Founder of the University of Prince Edward Island.

In addition to educating three generations of Islanders in a university setting, Dr. O’Grady pursued an active scholarly agenda focused mostly on Irish literature and culture. Published in 2004 by McGill-Queen’s University Press, his book, Exiles and Islanders, is considered the definitive account of the Irish settlers on Prince Edward Island. The book was a true labour of love and an adventure in research and writing shared with his wife, Leah. A founding member of the Celtic Heritage Association of Prince Edward Island and the Patron of the Benevolent Irish Society, Dr. O’Grady remained active in Island cultural circles to the end of his life.

Dr. O’Grady passed away on Saturday, November 24, at the age of 93. His wake will be held at the Belvedere Funeral Home on Friday, November 30, from 4–7 pm, and a funeral mass at the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer on Saturday, December 1, at 1 pm. UPEI’s flags will fly at half-mast until after his funeral.

Anna MacDonald
Communications Officer
UPEI Marketing and Communications
(902) 566-0949
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