Former US Senate Majority Leader and Ambassador to Japan Michael Mansfield will garner another tribute from Boston College as the inaugural recipient of the Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Award for Distinguished Citizenship.
University President J. Donald Monan, SJ, will present the award to Mansfield, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree and was guest speaker at the 1971 University Commencement, on Commencement Day, May 20.
The award is named for "Tip" O'Neill, the 1936 alumnus whose term as Speaker of the House of Representatives coincided with Mansfield's as Senate Majority Leader. It will honor a man or woman who exemplifies O'Neill's legacy of promoting public service as an ideal, especially to young people.
"To say that I am honored is to understate my reaction," said Mansfield in a letter accepting Fr. Monan's invitation to receive the award. "I can't begin to congratulate you on the honor that you have accorded Tip O'Neill ... He did a magnificent job under extremely difficult conditions and was one of the few great Speakers of the House. With Tip you always knew where you stood."
"We are quite enthused to be presenting the first O'Neill Award to Mike Mansfield," said Senior Vice President James P. McIntyre. "He ably personifies the characteristics it celebrates, especially given his closeness to Tip O'Neill, as well as his previous award from the University. Mike Mansfield's life and career reflects ideals strongly held by the Speaker, and Boston College as well."
In 1942, Mansfield was elected to the US House of Representatives from Montana and in 1953 won a seat in the US Senate. He was Senate Majority Leader from 1961 to 1977, and a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Appropriations Committee. Following his retirement from the Senate in 1977, he served as Ambassador to Japan until 1989.
Mansfield earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Montana, where from 1933 to 1942 he was a professor of history and political science. He also served in the Navy, Army and Marines from 1918 to 1922, and then worked as a miner and mining engineer until he began his studies at the University of Montana.
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