The University of Notre Dame Australia has conferred a Doctor of Laws on Terence O’Connor AM QC, one of Western Australia’s most prominent members of the legal profession.
Mr O’Connor, who was the University’s Chancellor from 1990-2004, was conferred the honorary degree at a graduation ceremony at the University in December.
His long and distinguished career in the legal profession began in 1961 when he graduated as a lawyer.
He became a barrister in 1986, was appointed a Queens Council in 1987, and served as Commissioner of the WA Supreme Court and as Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Western Australia from 1987-2003.
Reflecting his contribution to the legal profession and executive service to educational institutions, Mr O’Connor was conferred a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006.
Away from the courtroom, Mr O’Connor was involved in the Australian Rules Football community as a player, coach and administrator for more than 40 years.
Most notably, he served as Chairman of the West Coast Eagles from 1988-1993 – a period which included the club’s first AFL Premiership in 1992.
He was also a member of the Australian Football League Board of Commissioners from 1993-2001, and he served as Chairperson of the Task Force appointed to develop football in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
“In the early days especially, Terence O’Connor was an active promoter and fearless defender of Notre Dame at a time when there was some scepticism and hostility – both in Church circles and the wider community – as to whether a Catholic university in Perth was necessary of justifiable,” Professor Celia Hammond, Notre Dame’s Vice Chancellor, said in her citation.
“He gave exemplary leadership and guidance to the University through this very challenging and remarkable foundation period. His strong and unwavering support for the mission of the University provided a firm base which the Notre Dame community knew it could rely on.”
During his speech, Mr O’Connor said “One of the early decisions we made was to have the students undertake practical experience in their chosen profession. This decision itself has made Notre Dame an attractive destination for student learning.”