Development & Alumni Relations Office 



WASHINGTON DC DIPLOMATIC RECEPTION  

31 May 2019

Queen’s graduates living in the Washington DC area attended a private reception hosted by Norman Houston OBE, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in his Official Residence last night (Thursday 30 May).

Also present was a delegation of Queen’s academics representing each of the University’s three faculties who are currently on a visit to Washington accompanied by representatives from the University’s directorates, who updated local alumni on the latest developments from Queen’s.

Norman, who is due to step down from the role in the coming months, has been Northern Ireland's main representative in Washington for the last 12 years. In recognition of his work promoting Northern Ireland, he received an OBE last summer.

During his time in Washington, he has attended three Presidential inaugurations, met presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump and even got a personal ‘shout out’ from the current President at the 2018 St Patrick’s celebrations.

The Northern Ireland Bureau is the diplomatic mission of the NI Executive in the US and Canada, working to bolster economic, educational and community links with North America.

With almost 40 years of experience as a senior official in the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Norman has spearheaded international relations with the US and Canada since 2007. He as the first diplomat to escort Northern Ireland’s First Minister and Deputy First Minister into the Oval office to meet the then-President George W. Bush.

Norman holds a degree in Modern History from the Open University. Born and raised in Larne, County Antrim, he has an adult son and daughter.  

Among the Queen’s academic delegates were:

Faculty of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences Representatives

  • Professor Michael Alcorn – Dean of Internationalisation
  • Professor David Phinnemore – Dean of Education
  • Dr Philip McGowan – Director of Internationalisation for Arts, English and Languages
  • Dr Olwen Purdue – Director of Internationalisation for History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics

Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Representative

  • Dr Niall Majury – Director of Education for Natural and Built Environment

Faculty of Medical Health and Life Sciences Representative

  • Professor Mark Lawler – Dean of Education, Chair of Translational Cancer Genomics

Representing the Development and Alumni Relations Office were Ian Moore, Head of Alumni and Supporter Engagement and Naomi King, Development Manager.

Speaking about the evening Ian Moore said: “Our graduates in DC enjoyed a truly wonderful evening at the official home of Bureau Director Norman Houston.

“It was great to see so many of our alumni present. The reception was a perfect opportunity for them to catch up with each other, to enjoy some generous hospitality and to get all the latest news from Queen’s.

“Thanks to Norman for hosting us all and best wishes to him as he prepares to leave the role in the coming months.”

For more on graduate activities in North America contact Queen’s Alumni Officer (Engagement), Stephen O’Reilly or phone +44 (0)28 9097 1945. And you can keep up with Queen's alumni in Washington DC via Facebook.  

To submit graduate news items, or for general enquiries about this story, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast or telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.

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