ConU’s First Rector Dies

Photo courtesy of Concordia Archives.

Concordia University’s first rector, John O’Brien, passed away at the age of 80 on Dec. 16.

O’Brien, who started his career at Sir George Williams University in 1954 as an economics lecturer, became an associate professor in 1961 and was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Arts in 1963.

O’Brien was appointed principal of SGW in 1969 at the tender age of 38 years old, and stood his post until the merge with Loyola in 1974. He carried his term over and was the first rector of the new Concordia University, remaining until 1984.

When he left office, the John W. O’Brien Graduate Fellowship, a $12,000 award open to all full-time graduate students without citizenship restrictions, was started in his honour. He eventually retired from teaching in 1996.

“He had his eye on Concordia’s long-term future as a leading comprehensive university, and he took on an extraordinary personal responsibility for making that happen,” said current Concordia President Frederick Lowy, in a message issued from the president’s office on Dec. 21.