Carleton University today conferred a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on John Daniel O’Leary in recognition of his life-long commitment and leadership in advancing literacy among marginalized and under-served communities and his service to the unique educational opportunity offered by Frontier College.
Born in Toronto, he studied history and political science at Carleton while playing linebacker for the Ravens football team.
“My wish for you is that you will pursue and achieve big dreams, and always find the goodness in the professional and personal challenges you will face,” O’Leary told the graduating class.
He spent a year studying with the Jesuits, teaching in schools in Chicago and Winnipeg, and he lived with the L’Arche community, assisting people with special needs. After teaching literacy in an Ontario prison, he joined Frontier College as a literacy teacher in Manitoba prisons. He then joined the Frontier staff and, in 1990, was appointed president of the organization. His goal was to recruit university students across Canada as literacy tutors for disadvantaged and oppressed people.
He now works in development at Teach for Canada and serves on the boards of the Christian Resources Centre and the Toronto Native Friendship Centre.
“As a librarian and as someone who works in an academic library, surrounded by reading material of all kinds, it is easy to see the enormous value of John Daniel O’Leary’s extraordinary lifelong efforts in support of literacy,” said Wayne Jones, University Librarian.
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