Paddy O'Donnell

Biography of Paddy O'Donnell

Paddy O'Donnell
Paddy O'Donnell

Patrick O’Donnell was born in Govan on 12th July 1947 and attended St Aloysius’ College before coming to the University of Glasgow to study Psychology. He graduated with a first class degree in 1969 and was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer in 1969 and became a Lecturer shortly thereafter. He was recognised as a gifted teacher and administrator and was appointed as Dean of Social Sciences in 1983 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1987.

He then took on the role of Head of Department in Psychology for 11 years. He continued as Deputy Head of Department and Director of Teaching and, subsequently, Deputy Head of School until his retirement.

He was promoted to Professor of Teaching, Learning and Assessment in 2006. Over the years, he served on many Faculty and College committees, including College Management, he chaired the Working Party on Equal Opportunities, and was an elected member of Senate.

He was well-known for his perspicacity, sharp wit, and humour. The energy and dedication it took to contribute to the University in this way for such a sustained period cannot be overstated and his contribution, always made with insight and humour, was effective and inclusive.

Professor O’Donnell’s research included work on computer interfaces, where he established important industrial links with NCR, IBM, and Honeywell. He also maintained an interest in addiction research, therapeutic treatments, and decision-making in accounting.

Most recently, his career gained an international reputation with over 15 high-impact publications elucidating the immediate temporal dynamics and neural underpinnings of how we process the written word.

Professor O’Donnell’s contribution to the University of Glasgow – academically, administratively, and pedagogically – has been truly immense.

Over the decades, his vision and tireless efforts forged the foundation of the national and international recognition and success that Psychology at the University of Glasgow enjoys today. In this spirit, and to inspire all of us to rise to his high standards, The School will offer from next academic year an annually funded O’Donnell Learning and Teaching Award to recognise and encourage staff activity in the areas of Teaching, Learning and Assessment.

Professor Patrick O’Donnell died peacefully at home on Sunday, April 3. A funeral service was held on 9 April. He will be sorely missed.

We have received the following comment from one of his former students: "It was with great sadness that I heard of the untimely death in 2016 of Paddy O'Donnell. I was at Glasgow University from 1976 to 1982 studying Psychology at undergraduate and postgraduate level and remember him well. He was a real inspiration, very approachable, and an excellent teacher whose lectures were delivered with humour. He took a genuine interest in his students and their welfare and progress. Frankly he was a legend. RIP Paddy." Jean Clydesdale Newcastle


Paddy O'Donnell

Born 12 July 1947.
Died 3 April 2016.
University Link: GU Degree: MA, 1969; Psychology,
Occupation categories: psychologists
Additional Information: Source:;
Record last updated: 30th Jan 2018

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