Geneva, N.Y.-International public servant Sister Mary Turley, one of the founding members of the Flax Trust, received the Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Hobart and William Smith Colleges today during the 2001 Commencement celebration at the Colleges campus in upstate New York. Sister Turley works in Belfast in conjunction with the Flax Trust to bring peace to Northern Ireland through economic and social development. She is a native of Portadown, County Armagh, and a member of the Presentation Sisters.
During the outdoor ceremony where approximately 430 students graduated, Hobart and William Smith President Mark D. Gearan called Sister Turley's work to change the circumstances of people in Northern Ireland “revolutionary and courageous.” She is a fitting recipient of the honorary degree as Hobart and William Smith Colleges are noted for an ambitious emphasis on international study, and for their programs in service. Gearan, who became the president of the Colleges in 1999, is the former director of the U.S. Peace Corps.
“Mary Turley, your dedication to reconciliation through economic development in Northern Ireland and your goal of bringing peace, one person, one job at a time, is an inspiration to all…It is though your efforts that peace is truly becoming a reality,” Gearan said.
Sister Turley holds a degree in education from Queens University, Belfast. She has also earned a bachelor's degree, master's degree, and higher diploma, all with honors, at St. Patrick's College in Maynooth, County Kildare, and has engaged in post-graduate studies at The Irish Management Institute in Dublin, and Trinity College, Dublin.
A teacher by profession, Sister Turley taught at Drumcree College, Green Hills College, St. Gabriel's College, and St. Kieran's College. She is one of the founding members of Flax Trust Belfast in 1977, Flax Trust America in 1982 for Americans interested in Irish reconciliation, and Flax Trust Dublin in 1984. She serves as a director of Flax Trust Belfast, Dublin, and America; Brookfield Business Centre, Ltd. and Brookfield Business School, Ltd.; and Community Aid 2000, Ltd. She is the founder and director of Bannside Development Agency, Ltd.; vice-chair of Bannside Community Trust; vice-chair of the Greater Craigavon Partnership; advisory board member of the Ian Gow Memorial Trust and the Presentation Sisters' Ministries Commission.
Commencement 2001 marks the 176th Commencement for Hobart College and the 90th Commencement for William Smith College. The Colleges are coordinate, private, liberal arts institutions, located in Geneva, N.Y. C the heart of the Finger Lakes region. The Colleges, which have a combined enrollment of 1,800, offer a remarkably broad array of majors and minors, with a cross-disciplinary flavor intended to better inform both professional and intellectual pursuits. Hobart College for men and William Smith College for women share faculty, facilities, and curriculum, but maintain separate dean's offices, athletic programs, student governments, and traditions.