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The Late Daniel W. O’Brien, C.M., O.N.B.

The Late Daniel W. O’Brien, C.M., O.N.B.

The Late Daniel W. O’Brien, C.M., O.N.B.

The Late Daniel W. O’Brien, C.M., O.N.B.


Published on 16 November 2016
Hansard and Statements by Senator Wilfred Moore (retired)

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore:

Honourable senators, I would also like to join my colleagues in welcoming the new senators, the 14 that were sworn in yesterday and today. Particularly, I’d like to welcome Senator Wanda Bernard, my fellow Nova Scotian. Welcome aboard.

Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to Dr. Daniel W. O’Brien, who departed this life in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday October 30, 2016. Dan earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from St. Mary’s University, a master’s degree from the Maritime School of Social Work and a doctorate in social planning from the University of Pennsylvania.

He was a professor of social work and served as an administrator at Dalhousie University for 21 years. In 1990, Dan was appointed President of St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and he led that university until 2006. In recognition of his stellar service, in 2010 Dan was installed as St. Thomas University’s first President Emeritus, and its principle study hall was named in his honour.

During his time in Fredericton, Dan served on many community boards and committees, including Chair of the Board of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, during a legacy-defining period. Those good works saw him awarded an honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of New Brunswick, an induction into the Order of New Brunswick and a papal knighthood.

Following his tenure at St. Thomas University, Dan and his family moved back to Nova Scotia, settling in Chester Basin, where he established an active consulting practice. In 2010, he was appointed Chair of the Halifax Capital District Health Authority Board. He next began a round of important education leadership tasks, including Acting President of the Atlantic School of Theology in 2011 and from 2014-15. He was President of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in Halifax from 2012-14, guiding it through a challenging financial period and developing its “Framework for Stability” document. Upon Dan’s passing, Grant Machum, Immediate Past Chair of NSCAD’s Board of Governors, said of him:

He is the reason that NSCAD remains an independent fine arts university with a worldwide reputation.

Dr. Daniel W. O’Brien leaves behind a legacy of outstanding post-secondary education leadership. He was a true champion, and we are all beneficiaries of his dedicated personal commitment. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Valerie, and their sons, Professor Peter and Father Craig.