Irish America magazine has announced that Dr. John L. Lahey is the 2011 Irish American of the Year.
Previous honorees who accepted the award include President Clinton, Coca-Cola President Donald R. Keough, New York Cardinal John O’Connor and actress Maureen O’Hara.
Dr. Lahey, the president of Quinnipiac University located in Hamden, Connecticut, will be honored for his work in pioneering collegiate study of Ireland's Great Hunger and his remarkable commitment to promoting Irish American heritage.
Dr. Lahey will be presented as Irish American of the Year at this year’s Irish America Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Tuesday, March 15 at the New York Yacht Club.
Dr. Lahey is also the vice chairman-director of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, of which he has been a member for over 20 years. He served as grand marshal of the parade in 1997. In recognition of this year's singular anniversary of the parade, the longest running in American history, Quinnipiac University Press has published a comprehensive and richly illustrated history, Celebrating 250 Years of the St. Patrick's Day Parade (Quinnipiac Unversity Press, 2011).
Dr. Lahey has devoted much of his time to educating the public about the true causes of Ireland’s Great Hunger. A highly respected voice in academia, he has long championed the need for the history of the Great Irish Hunger to be accurately and completely told.
With the help of an endowment from Murray and Marvin Lender and under Dr. Lahey's leadership, Quinnipiac developed Ireland's Great Hunger Collection, a vast exhibition of artwork, books and educational materials on the subject. Permanently housed on campus, the emotionally-rich collection was exihibited to acclaim in New York last summer and is a tremendous testament to Dr. Lahey's commitment to Irish studies and culture, and his leadership at Quinnipiac.
As President of Quinnipiac University for the past 24 years, Dr. Lahey has spearheaded the university’s emergence as one of the leading educational institutions in the U.S. He has increased Quinnipiac’s endowment from $5 million to $260 million, guided a comprehensive building program, and directed a more than 300 percent increase in student enrollment.
Quinnipiac was listed among the top ten regional universities by “US News and World Report” and also is in “The Princeton Review’s” Best 373 Colleges in 2011.
Dr. Lahey’s story began in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx. His mother, Caroline, was a teacher at St. Margaret’s School for 40 years and his father was a long-time member of the New York City bricklayers’ union and founder of the Riverdale Little League.
Dr. Lahey earned a PhD from the University of Miami and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Dayton, and a second master's degree in higher education administration from Columbia University.
Irish America is deeply to honored present Dr. John L. Lahey as the 2011 Irish American of the Year in recognition of his tireless leadership in the Irish American community and his devotion to educating the public about Ireland’s Great Hunger.