Development & Alumni Relations Office 


14 June 2017

Among the many tributes paid to Professor Patrick Johnston, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, who died suddenly on Sunday 4 June, are those from the University’s Foundation Board, the Friends of Queen's USA and the City Leadership Group (London).

Foundation Board

Expressing sympathy on behalf of The Queen's University of Belfast Foundation, Chairman Jim Rutherford said:

On behalf of the Foundation Board I offer heartfelt sympathy to Iseult, Seamus, Eoghan, Niall and Ruairi and the wider Johnston family circle at this very sad time on the tragic personal loss of a husband, father, grandfather and brother.

As President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s Paddy was an inspirational leader. Through Vision 2020 he was steering the University with boundless energy and belief through a period of radical change, firmly focused on growing the numbers of international and postgraduate students and increasing research income.

As a dedicated and pioneering researcher he revolutionised cancer treatment, gaining an international reputation for his work which offered hope to so many in Northern Ireland and further afield.  

Professor Johnston was also working closely with the Queen’s Foundation Board to make sure that future generations of young people here had access to a world-class education at Queen’s.

He will be missed in so many ways, by so many people – as a leader, as a researcher and as a colleague but undoubtedly his loss will be mostly acutely felt by his family and friends.

Professor Johnston’s legacy will be manifest in the countless number of individuals with cancer who are now being offered hope as a result of his ground-breaking work, and by the citizens of Northern Ireland who will benefit directly through the continued success of Queen’s as a world-class Russell Group university.

City Leadership Group

Declan Tiernan, speaking on behalf of the University’s City Leadership Group in London, which offers students financial and practical support and advice, as well as tailored networking and professional development events, also paid tribute to Professor Johnston.

It was with a profound sense of shock and loss that the Committee of the Queen's University Belfast City Leadership Group (CLG) learned of the passing of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston.

We would like to offer our deep condolences to Professor Johnston's wife Iseult, their sons, family circle and friends.

Paddy was a passionate supporter of the work of the CLG, and took a special interest in the guidance the Group gives to Queen’s students in nurturing their future careers. He was a tireless advocate of our work both within the University, as well as in the public sphere. His enthusiasm and energy for bringing our programme to an even wider number of students will be sadly missed.

The University has lost a truly exceptional and talented leader, whose vision for Queen's – and its place in both Northern Ireland and the world – was an inspiration to us all. We look forward to continuing our work in the future from the strong position Paddy's support and encouragement has afforded us, and for which we offer our sincere thanks and appreciation.

The Friends of Queen's USA

John O’Donoghue, President of the Friends of The Queen's University of Belfast in the USA, described Professor Johnston as unique.

It is with great sadness that we the Queen's alumni group in the United States offer our condolences on the passing of Vice-Chancellor, Patrick Johnston.

Paddy visited us regularly and was always so enthusiastic and upbeat. He challenged us all to do whatever we could to add to the effort at Queen's and indeed Northern Ireland. He was so inspirational in his vision and how he articulated it. He welcomed so many of us when we came back to visit Queen's and was extremely generous with his time and energy.

He will be missed by so many; his efforts to expand the University's relationship in the US was further boosted when Dr Tom Moran became Chancellor. We were just at the beginning of developing a new effort here when he was taken from us so suddenly. It is now incumbent upon us, more than ever, to ensure that his vision and legacy are fulfilled. 

He was a unique person and one who can never truly be replaced. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family; may he rest in peace.

Professor Johnston was buried on Thursday 8 June following a service at St Brigid’s Parish Church, which is close to the Vice-Chancellor’s Lodge in Lennoxvale in the south of Belfast. Following the service, the funeral cortege made its way down the Malone Road and University Road and into University Square before passing in front of the Lanyon Building where hundreds of staff formed a guard of honour. After pausing briefly beneath the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, the cortege made its way to Donegal and Desertegney Cemetery, where he was buried.

Professor Johnston died while cycling in Donegal. He is survived by his wife Iseult and his four sons Seamus, Eoghan, Niall and Ruairi, by his sisters Eleanor and Fionnuala, his brothers Michael, James, Brian and Niall and by his grandchildren Harry and Abigail.

For those graduates and friends of Queen's who were unable to sign the University's Book of Condolence in person, messages of sympathy and support can be emailed to An obituary highlighting Professor Johnston’s life and outstanding contribution to society, is available here.

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