Patrick O’Meara, Vice President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus who passed away on March 30 at the age of 83 according to an IU press release, was described as diplomat, music lover, spokesperson and ambassador.
According to the release, O’Meara came to IU in the 1960s from South Africa where he earned both a master’s and doctoral degree in political science with a specialization in African politics.
He began teaching as an assistant visiting professor in the Department of Political Science in 1970 and became the director of the African Studies Program in 1972. in 1993, he was appointed as the dean of International programs. After being appointed Vice President of International Affairs in 2007 by President Michael McRobbie, O’Meara led the effort to establish IU’s international strategic plan, one of the first for any college or university in the nation, according to the release.
O’Meara continued to serve IU as a special adviser to President McRobbie and other members of the university after his academic retirement in 2011. He was known for his work in building and expanding IU’s international presence through the study abroad program and fostering relationships between IU and other universities, according to the release.
Elaine Monaghan, a professor of practice in the Media School, met O’Meara in the fall of 2013 while in Bloomington for the very first time. Monaghan said O’Meara was a part of the welcoming committee for potential hires for the university.
During her visit, Monaghan said O’Meara took her to the Lilly archives and showed her an original copy of Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns, the national poet of her homeland, Scotland.
“The whole idea was, he was like showing to me the depth and sort of cultural richness of IU,” Monaghan said. “I couldn't believe what I was looking at.”
Monaghan said O’Meara was almost giddy with excitement knowing how much she would enjoy seeing the items in the Lilly Archives. She said O’Meara was a principled person who wanted what was best for IU and took the time and trouble to really connect people with shared interests.
“He understood people incredibly well, he had an instinctive understanding of what made people tick,”
Monaghan said. “And he had all of that, at the same time as being incredibly kind, and incredibly smart.”
Monaghan said O’Meara made people feel like they were his lifelong friends and was always fun to be around.
“You just always felt like it was just the best thing in the world to be somewhere near Patrick because that's where the party was,” Monaghan said.
Lee Feinstein, founding dean and professor at the Hamilton Lugar School of International Affairs, worked down the hall from O’Meara whose fourth floor office has been in the same building in the Hamilton Lugar School since it opened in 2015.
Feinstein said O’Meara’s ability to produce a good result was as good as anyone he had ever worked with.
“He was equal parts diplomatic and mischievous,” Feinstein said. “He knew exactly how to position something to produce a result that he knew to be the right one,”
O’Meara was dedicated to the university, Feinstein said, and played a huge role in making IU the global university that it is.
“He had very, very high standards for IU,” Feinstein said. “He knew what the university had accomplished and would accomplish in the future and that always inspired us to do better,”
Arthur Fagen, chair of orchestral conducting at the Jacobs School of Music, said O’Meara was one of the most culturally refined, knowledgeable and sensitive people he had ever met.
“He had a level of understanding and perceptiveness that one rarely, rarely, rarely finds in somebody who's not a musician,” Fagen said.
O’Meara, Fagen said, was an extraordinarily sympathetic person who would reach out to others and exuded a certain warmth to those around him.
“I will remember him as someone whom I had the utmost respect, as someone who I felt became a friend and supporter and who has left me feeling with a tremendous sense of loss now that he is not there,” Fagen said.
Those wishing to honor and celebrate O’Meara’s life and legacy can donate to the IU Foundation in support of the Patrick O’Meara Scholarship.