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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Michael O’Neill (1953-2018)

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Michael O’Neill.

Professor O’Neill played a key role in establishing the IAS in 2005, and then ensured its continuing success as a co-Director for Arts & Humanities until 2011, and as Acting Executive Director between January 2011 and July 2012. Durham has a great deal to thank Michael for in this regard. Due in part to Michael’s vision, the IAS is the envy of many other universities around the World. Michael recognised the importance of an institute that genuinely spans all disciplines, and the IAS is still one of the few that does this, attracting more than 240 eminent visiting fellows to participate in its intellectual endeavours.Michael was a brilliant scholar who displayed his erudition with warmth and humility. He will be sorely missed by all connected to the IAS.

For more on Michael’s intellectual contributions, please see:

Please feel free to add your own memories of Michael as a comment below.

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Tribute to Professor Michael O'Neill

As an undergraduate at Durham in the late 1990s I recall Michael's superb lectures and his unfailing generosity and encouragement. He later examined my PhD, and earning his appreciation meant and still means a tremendous amount to me. I am deeply saddened by his passing. He was a great man.

Posted by Edward Quipp at 21:31, 13 June 2019

“Michael O'Neill
Michael was the external examiner for my PhD. He was about the most generous and stimulating interlocutor one could hope for. I have very fond memories of my viva and of my later encounters with Michael. A good scholar and human has passed away. He will be much missed.”

Posted by Professor Jason Hall at 08:34, 01 May 2019

IAS and a lost flame

I read of Michael's passing with much sadness. IAS is a unique and powerful melting pot, and my time as a Fellow is cherished by both myself and my family. A nice bloke, soft spoken but intellectually driven. My heart goes out to those who he leaves behind.

posted by Kevin J Flynn FLSW at 15:02, 14 January 2019

Michael's influence

I was in almost the last batch of Fellows before Michael stepped down. His quiet confidence and support were much appreciated in helping me settle into such a mixture of intellectual heavyweights. God speed.

Posted by Meredith Lloyd-Evans at 15:13, 10 January 2019

Michael – an inspirational human being

I was recruited to the Institute of Advanced Study by Michael, who was Executive Director of the IAS, in early 2012. Michael was extraordinarily generous with his time, advice and guidance: helping me to navigate the intricacies of this unique and world-class research institute, of which he was so fundamental in its creation, operation and its ongoing legacy.

I am enormously grateful for all of the support Michael provided to me, and the wider Durham University community. Rest in peace.

Posted by Linda Crowe at 12:28, 09 January 2019