Development & Alumni Relations Office 


19 August 2018


The death of Queen’s Chancellor Dr Thomas J Moran in New York on Sunday 12 August following a short illness, was announced by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Greer. Dr Moran’s passing will be felt across the University family, the Irish-American community and the business world.


In a statement, Professor Greer said: We are grateful for Tom’s unwavering support and commitment to the University since he was appointed Chancellor in May 2015. 


Tom considered it a privilege and honour to be our Chancellor and embraced the role with passion and excitement, often commenting how special it was for him to be part of the Queen’s family.


He particularly enjoyed engaging with our students during the Graduation Ceremonies and, for him, Graduation was the highlight of the year. 


He travelled regularly from the US to support University events and joined colleagues in 2016 for the award of our sixth Queen’s Anniversary Prize at Buckingham Palace.


Tom was a native New Yorker with ancestral roots in Fermanagh and Cavan. He graduated from Manhattan College with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics.


He was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mutual of America Life Insurance Company since October 1994, the first person to have been appointed President from within the Company, until his retirement in 2016.


He was also Chairman of Concern Worldwide (US), Inc., an international humanitarian relief organisation that operates in 30 of the poorest countries of the world.


A noted philanthropist when it came to the arts, culture, business and heritage worlds, Tom contributed to many humanitarian and community causes.


He was also an influential voice in the peace process, acting as one of a group of unofficial peace envoys to Northern Ireland throughout the 1990s.


Tom was recognised for his steadfast commitment to helping others and for his charitable, philanthropic and educational work. In 2006, the University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Science (Economics) for services to business, commerce and to public service and he was appointed our tenth Chancellor in May 2015.


Tom was a real inspiration to all those who knew him and will be sorely missed.


We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Joan and the wider family circle.


Life and career


Thomas J Moran was formally inaugurated as Chancellor of Queen’s on Thursday 2 July, 2015. At a special installation ceremony in the Great Hall, the Vice-Chancellor, the late Professor Patrick Johnston, referred to him as “someone who shares our passion for education” who “recognises the transformative effect it has on the world around us.”


Later that same year, he received a Distinguished Service Award from Irish President Michael D Higgins in Dublin.


Born in 1952, Tom Moran grew up in Staten Island, one of three children of an Irish-Italian-American mother and an Irish-American father, with roots in Counties Fermanagh, Cavan and Tipperary.


At 14, he began his first job as a janitor at his high school and later, while attending Manhattan College, he drove a cab during the night shift.


Following a BS degree in mathematics at Manhattan, Tom began working as a pension underwriter at Mutual of America Life Insurance Company in 1975, where he met his future wife, Joan, whom he married in 1983.  


By 1994 he had worked his way up to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mutual and was listed as one of the top 100 Irish-American business people in the US.


During his career he served on many boards including the American Cancer Society Foundation, the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Channel Thirteen WNET, and the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.


Awards and recognitions


Dr Moran was the recipient of numerous awards throughout his life including honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland (2002), Mount Mary College, Milwaukee (2004), Queen’s University Belfast (2006), and the College of Mount Saint Vincent, New York (2010).


In 2008, he was named Irish American of the Year by Irish America when accolades were bestowed on him from Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and Sir Hugh Orde, then-chief Constable of the PSNI, among many others.


In 2011, he won the Richard J. Caron Award of Excellence for corporate and humanitarian leadership and the following year was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame.


In 1996, Tom was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which celebrates “remarkable Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage.” A very fitting tribute indeed to Tom Moran.


Tom is survived by his wife Joan.


A funeral mass was celebrated in memory of Dr Thomas J Moran at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Friday, August 17.


The Book of Condolence, which was open in Queen’s Welcome Centre (in the main Lanyon Building) at Queen's has now closed.  Students, staff and friends of the University still wishing to pay their respects can email them to:  


General enquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office at Queen’s University Belfast, tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.


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