He mixed the challenging and the celebratory in a way that added significantly to the value and integrity of the proceedings.
He was, as we have come to expect and welcome, challenging again yesterday when he spoke at the annual conference of the European Universities Association, which was held at NUI Galway, where he taught for many years.
In a 40-minute address, Mr Higgins warned that scholarship was under threat across Europe because of an over-emphasis on producing graduates to primarily serve economic ambitions. The President said universities had a duty to safeguard and develop an “intellectual infrastructure” for future generations and that a diminished capacity for discourse had ushered in a new form of aggression.
Anyone who imagines that Mr Higgins has not touched on one of the most pressing issues of our time need only for the briefest moment consider Donald Trump or IS.