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Convocation to Honor Irish Peacemaker Bertie Ahern and Maryland Congressman John Delaney

  • Former Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern.
    Former Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern.
  • Congressman John Delaney.
    Congressman John Delaney.
  • President's Medal recipient Nina Rodale Houghton.
    President's Medal recipient Nina Rodale Houghton.

Location: Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts

February 20, 2015
The annual George Washington’s Birthday Convocation will award honorary degrees to the former Irish prime minister and the Maryland lawmaker and recognize the achievements and service of stand-out faculty and staff.

CHESTERTOWN, MD— Washington College’s annual George Washington’s Birthday Convocation will honor an Irish peacemaker and a Maryland lawmaker when it convenes Friday, February 20 in Decker Theatre.  Former Irish Prime Minister Bartholomew “Bertie” Ahern and Sixth District Congressman John Delaney will each receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from the College and make brief remarks.

Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S., Anne Anderson, is expected to attend. 

In a setting rich with academic pomp and ceremony, the Convocation audience also will hear citations praising this year’s winners of the President’s Medal, the Alumni Service Award, and the President’s Distinguished Service Awards. 

The event begins at 3:30 in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, on campus. It is free and open to the public.  


Bertie Ahern
, Ireland’s second longest-serving prime minister, was first elected to the Irish parliament as a representative of Dublin in the Fianna Fáil party in 1977.  Twenty years later, after serving a number of top posts in prior Administrations, he was elected Prime Minister for the first of three terms. His greatest legacy was his role in negotiating the historic Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which ended three decades of partisan violence in Northern Ireland and set the stage for shared governance. Since leaving office in 2008 he has continued to be an influential force in world conflict resolution.  (For more on Ahern’s visit, go to  http://ow.ly/J9bS4.) 

Congressman John Delaney.Congressman John Delaney.John Delaney was first elected to serve the Sixth District of Maryland in 2012 after a successful career in finance.  A past winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, he founded two publicly traded companies before turning 40: Chevy Chase-based commercial lender CapitalSource and HealthCare Financial Partners, which helps smaller health-care providers obtain loans. As a Congressman he has focused on job expansion and economic competitiveness. He created the nonprofit Blueprint Maryland to invigorate the state’s high-tech, high-information economy. At the national level, his Partnership to Build America Act has garnered bi-partisan support as a creative way to fund infrastructure repair and expansion while encouraging the repatriation of corporate earnings held overseas.   

This year’s President’s Medal for “an exemplary record of sustained and acknowledged contribution to the quality of life in Chestertown, Kent County and Washington College,” will go to Chestertown resident Nina Rodale Houghton. She and her late husband, Arthur Houghton, brought a new level of education and intellectual resources to the Eastern Shore by establishing the Wye Institute at their Wye Plantation estate in Queen Anne’s County, and later donating it to the Aspen Institute. Nina Houghton has continued to support a variety of causes as a volunteer and philanthropist. A dedicated advocate for conservation, she has helped guide the College’s Center for Environment & Society and currently serves on the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors. (Houghton will be traveling and will not be present to receive her medal in person.) 

The Alumni Service Award will go to Norris W. Commodore, Jr. from the class of 1973. The Kent County native works as an executive at IBM Credit LLC and has been a member of the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors since 1999. Commodore was a key part of the fundraising that led to the recent expansion of the Johnson Fitness Center.  

Five members of Washington College faculty and staff will be honored with the President’s Distinguished Service Award: Adrian B. “AJ” Blake, Jr., a beloved member of the Dining Services staff; Debra L. Bergen, the unflappable Accounts Receivables Manager in the Business Office; Kimberly D. Lessard, who has coached men’s and women’s swimming for a quarter century and serves as the Athletic Department’s Title IX Coordinator; and professors Martin A. Connaughton and Michele Volansky, who shepherded the self-review process as the College earned its re-accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. 

The newest members of Phi Beta Kappa will be recognized, as will employees who have reached significant work anniversaries at the College, from five to 35 years.  A musical treat will be the Washington College Chamber Singers and WACapella teaming up to premier a new arrangement of the Alma Mater created by composer and professor John Leupold. For more information on the event please visit the campus calendar at www.washcoll.edu


Last modified on Feb. 17th, 2015 at 11:53am by .