Meet Bill Flynn

William J. Flynn
Meet Bill FlynnChairman Emeritus, Mutual of America

One of the primary goals of the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies is to promote peace and reconciliation through the democratic model of Northern Ireland.

The University of St. Thomas named the Center in honor of William J. Flynn, Chairman Emeritus of Mutual of America Life Insurance Company in New York, for his outstanding contributions to the Northern Ireland Peace Process.

William J. Flynn, Chairman Emeritus, Mutual of America Life Insurance Company, 320 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022.

Mr. Flynn attended Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, NY, and received his M.A. in Economics from Fordham University in New York.  He served in the United States Air Force during the Korean conflict.

He is a member of the Racquet and Tennis Club, The University Club, and The Garden City Country Club.

Mr. Flynn is former Chairman of the Board of The National Committee on American Foreign Policy, The Life Insurance Council of New York,  the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, The Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the United States and St. Vincent’s Services and, also, former President of the Board of the Flax Trust America and the New York Foundling Hospital.  Mr. Flynn is former member of The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation, The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, the U.S. Army War College Board of Visitors, the Ireland America Economic Advisory Board to the Taoiseach, Boston University, The Catholic Health Association of the United States, College Construction Loan Insurance Association, The College of Insurance, The College of New Rochelle, College Misericordia, Co-operation Ireland, Covenant House, Fordham University, Laboure Junior College, Medical Information Bureau, Mercy Health Foundation and the Advisory Committee to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Mr. Flynn is also a former member of the Board of the Police Athletic League, Pope John XXIII Center Medical-Moral Research and Education Center, Richmond Hill Savings Bank, The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation, The Royal Society of Medicine Foundation, Inc., St. Francis Hospital, St. Michael’s College, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center of New York, United States Catholic Historical Society, The United Student Aid Funds, United Way International and The Williamsburg Charter Foundation.

Mr. Flynn has received Honorary Doctorates from St. John’s University (1989), The University of Detroit Mercy (1991), The College of Mount Saint Vincent (1995), The College of New Rochelle (1995), College Misericordia (1996), Sacred Heart University (1996), Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (1998), The University of Ulster, Northern Ireland (2012) and St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland (2015).

In 1980, Mr. Flynn received Brandeis University’s Distinguished Community Service Award, and in 1983 he was the recipient of the Ubi Caritas Deus Ibi Award of Catholic Charities.  Mr. Flynn received the United Way of America’s National Professional Leadership Award and The National Conference of Christians and Jews Brotherhood Award in 1984.  In 1985, The United Way of Bergen County presented Mr. Flynn with its Distinguished Service Award, and in 1986, he received the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service Man of the Year Award.  Mr. Flynn  received The New York Foundling Hospital’s Elizabeth Ann Seton Humanitarian Award in 1988.  In the same year, he received The Israel 40th Anniversary Medal from the State of Israel and Catholic Charities Bishop’s Humanitarian Award, Diocese of Brooklyn.  In 1989, Mr. Flynn received the St. Mary’s Foundation for Children’s Humanitarian Award.

In 1991, Mr. Flynn received the American Cancer Society’s Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Memorial Award and the Life Services for the Handicapped National Leadership Award. Mr. Flynn received ENCORE Community Service’s Heart to Heart Award, and The Favorite Son Award from The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick on Long Island in 1992.  In the same year, he received The National Council on the Aging’s Distinguished Achievement Award.  He was also honored by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and received St. Patrick’s College Maynooth’s Man of the Year award in 1992.  Mr. Flynn was the recipient of the 1993 Calvary Hospital Medal and, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor.  In the Fall of 1993, he was awarded The Elizabeth Ann Seton Award of the National Catholic Education Association. 

Early in 1994, he was honored by the Life Insurance Council of New York as the most outstanding CEO of the life insurance industry in the past twenty-five years.  In March of 1994, Mr. Flynn was selected Irish American of the Year by Irish America Magazine and in May was honored by the American Ireland Fund.  Also in 1994, he received The Sister Cecilia Schneider Award from The New York Foundling Hospital and was the inaugural recipient of The Human Rights and Business Award of The International League for Human Rights.  He received The Federal Law Enforcement Foundation Community Leadership Award, and in November 1994, Prime Minister of Ireland, Albert Reynolds recognized Mr. Flynn’s contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process at a Tribute Dinner in his honor. 

Mr. Flynn received The Cathedral Club of Brooklyn’s Man of the Year Award and The Ambassador Award from The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee of Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1995. In the fall of 1995, Mr. Flynn received The Sisters of Saint Dominic’s Veritas Award, The Outstanding Achievement Award from The Ireland United States Council.  In March of 1996, Mr. Flynn was the Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

In the spring of 1997, Mr. Flynn was the inaugural recipient of The National Committee on American Foreign Policy’s Initiative for Peace Award.  He received The New York City Chapter of the Association of the United States Army’s Distinguished Service Award.  In the fall of 1997, Mr. Flynn was honored by The Irish American Society of Nassau-Suffolk & Queens, Inc.

In early 1998, Mr. Flynn received The Club of Champions Gold Medal Award from The Catholic Youth Organization.  In October 1998, Mr. Flynn was honored by The Ancient Order of Hibernians with The Man of the Year Award.

In November of 1999, Mr. Flynn was selected by Irish America Magazine as one of The Greatest Irish-Americans of the Century.  Mr. Flynn was among the honorees at the December 1999 Peace Links gala in Washington, DC for his help to broker peace in Ireland.  In March 2000, Mr. Flynn and Cardinal O’Connor were the first recipients of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Medals.  A year later, he was the Grand Marshal of the Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Early in 2001, Mr. Flynn received The Outstanding Civilian Service Medal from the Department of the Army for extraordinary service as an expert consultant on the U.S. Army War College Board of Visitors. In May, he received St. Clare’s Hospital and Health Center’s Helen Hayes Award which acknowledges professional and personal accomplishments and contributions to the quality of life.  Soon after, The United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania dedicated the “William J. Flynn Room” as the location for the General Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership.  In the fall of 2001, Mr. Flynn was honored with the Man of the Year Award by the Physically Challenged Irish and American Youth Team.  A year later, he was awarded the Benjamin Rush Award for Humanistic Values in Corporate and Government Life by Dickinson College.

In March 2003, Mr. Flynn was awarded the John F. Kennedy National Achievement Award by the St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke, Massachusetts.  In making the announcement, the President of the St. Patrick’s Committee said, “William Flynn, by far, surpasses any criteria that may be set as a measurement for success in a person’s professional or personal life.  Mr. Flynn has succeeded in business while demonstrating a continued commitment to human rights issues, not just in Ireland, but around the world.”

In March 2005, Mr. Flynn received the Humanitarian All-Star award from the Police Athletic League.  In May, the St. Aloysius School of Central Harlem, a transformative model for inner-city education, honored Mr. Flynn at its Annual Scholarship Benefit.  In September, the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding presented Mr. Flynn with a Special Peacemaker in Action Award “for a lifetime devoted to conflict resolution.”  In October 2007, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern praised Mr. Flynn’s tireless work over the years in fostering peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.  Minister Ahern presented Mr. Flynn with a photograph of the Farmleigh handshake, inscribed by the Prime Minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern and Dr. Ian Paisley, for tireless work over the years in fostering peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

In April 2008, Mr. Flynn was honored by The Brehon Law Society and The Emerald Isle Immigration Center with a Commendation from William C. Thompson, Jr., Comptroller of the City of New York.  In May 2009, The Catholic Big Sisters Big Brothers paid tribute to  Mr. Flynn with their Humanitarian Award.

Mr. Flynn has been awarded an honorary CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of his exceptional contribution to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.  He received this award at an investiture ceremony, at the British Embassy, in Washington, D.C. in June 2009.

In November 2010, the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas announced the establishment of the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies in recognition of his significant contributions to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.  Harvest Houses paid tribute to Mr. Flynn with their Pope John XXIII Humanitarian Award.  Mr. Flynn was inducted into the  Irish America Hall of Fame sponsored by Irish America Magazine in February 2011.

Opportunity Ireland honored Mr. Flynn for his dedication as a renowned Irish American leader and as a tireless defender of peace in February 2012.  Mr. Flynn was honored by The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Long Island, NY, with their Favorite Son Award in March 2012.

Mr. Flynn was with The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States from 1953 to 1971 where he was Vice President, Group Operations.  In 1971, he joined Mutual of America as President.  In 1972 he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer and in February 1982, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.  He served as Chairman of the Board until his retirement in May 2005 when he was named Chairman Emeritus.  He and his wife Peg have four children (Maureen, William, with sons James and Robert now deceased) and eleven grandchildren.

The University created a William J. Flynn Endowment to achieve these goals.

Irish Student Life

Irish Student Life  

Join the Irish Club, take Irish language courses, study abroad in Ireland and Northern Ireland or earn a Minor or Master of Liberal Arts graduate concentration in Irish Studies.

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Support the Center

Support the Center  

The William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies is one of a kind in the Southwest. Learn how to get involved with the Center. 


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Events & Lectures

Events & Lectures  

The Center sponsors lectures and cultural events, such as St. Patrick’s Day, storytellers and lively concerts.

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Center for Irish Studies Meet Bill Flynn
Center for Irish Studies
The William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston is the only Irish Studies academic program in the Southwest. The Center serves as a focal point for the study and appreciation of Irish and Northern Irish history, literature, politics, law, language, music, art, drama, culture and society.
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