For over fifty years, Noel Lindsay has worked for the cause of educational development. Ireland and the international community have benefited from his dedicated and skilful grasp of the relations between personal fulfilment, societal needs and financial constraints in the development of a significant education system. The 1960s were critical years in the growth of this country - the industrial momentum of those years coupled with the increasing influence of Europe radically altered the nature of Ireland. Noel Lindsay was a major player in achieving the ambitious goals set for the transformation of Irish education.
Noel Lindsay's career has embraced two main areas: the cost, structure and implementation of a meaningful education system in Ireland, a legacy which is apparent in today's enhanced and relevant institutions of learning. This aspect of Noel Lindsay's career culminated in his appointment as Chairman of the Higher Education Authority. While with the HEA, Noel stressed and pursued improved methods of quality assurance and accountability together with a new funding system and, through the CIRCA report, provided the basis for a new era in research funding in Higher Education. The second area of Noel Lindsay's career has been his ten years as a member of the World Bank and his involvement in consultancy work for the international community in various areas of expertise: both the OECD and the World Bank have benefited from his ability to create a practical working model of an egalitarian and relevant education system. The drive and energy required to advise on education across four continents testifies to the level of commitment of a man who has served education across the world.
In 1974 Noel Lindsay went to the World Bank in Washington for a six year secondment. He was appointed planner and later Division Chief in the Bank's Education Divisions for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. His remit took him to countries across the whole of the Middle East and Europe, taking in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey. Yemen and the Lebanon were among the countries in which he took a particular interest.
On his return in 1980, Noel Lindsay worked on a variety of projects including the White Paper on Education (1982). His guiding hand in this far-sighted document, led to a stress on the need for equality of access in the second and third level systems. In 1984, Noel Lindsay returned to the World Bank. With his successful record in the Department of Education it comes as no surprise to read the remarks of Gemma Hussey in her 1984 Cabinet Diaries -"Noel Lindsay . . . has re-applied to work for the World Bank for an extended period - I'll have to try to change his mind". Noel Lindsay was selected to head up the Institutional Development and Human Resource Unit, mainly in the Middle East. He returned to Ireland again in 1988 and shortly after was appointed Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Education and Science; two months later he became Secretary General. During his period as Head of the Department he was responsible for many initiatives and changes; perhaps the most far-reaching was the comprehensive 1992 Green Paper on Education.
Noel Lindsay's career in Irish Education straddles some of the major landmarks in our history. While serving in the Department of Education and Science, he established the Building Unit responsible for all capital development in education. He played a key role in the establishment of the Regional Technical Colleges (now Institutes of Technology) and in the establishment of the National Institutes for Higher Education, one in Limerick, one in Dublin. In the early 1970s Dr Lindsay oversaw the purchase of land for the initial element of the University of Limerick and recalls walking the land at Plassey in 1970 and, with Dr Ed Walsh, seeing a vision of the future University of Limerick in that space. Ireland moved to a national acceptance that education is a key element in stimulating economic growth and this campus owes much to the practical planning that Dr Lindsay set in motion at that time. His work with the World Bank was fundamental to the university's success in securing funding for the development of Phase 1 of this campus. In addition he played a leading role in the integration of Thomond College of Education with the University, and later with the academic integration of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick with the University of Limerick. Further, his interest in targeted initiatives in such areas as access for students with disadvantaged backgrounds, those facing challenges and mature students demonstrates a compassion and social conscience that, in his view, is at the heart of an ethically responsible system of education. The Irish language, support for teaching and engineering skills programmes have also been firmly on Noel Lindsay's agenda. Marian Edelman, speaking in 1992 of the purposes of education encapsulates the philosophy apparent in Dr Lindsay's wide range of initiatives: 'Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it'.
In the mid 1990s Noel headed up the Steering Committee on the future development of Higher Education and was a tireless proponent of the need to expand the Higher Education system in response to society's needs. He has been an active participant in the development of a number of skills needs programmes in PRTL programmes one to three and in the Review group on future investment in higher education. He has continued consultancy work with the World Bank working in Egypt, Zambia and the Philippines. In more recent years, he has taken on a new role as Process Auditor working on such projects as the Luas, the Digital Hub, The National Conference Centre and, currently, the new Abbey Theatre. He is an active member of the Higher Education and Disability Group (AHEAD) working in particular on their strategic plans and direction. It is a matter for some wonder that golf, walking the Dublin hills, gardening and enjoying the grandchildren also get fitted into this active life.
Dr Lindsay has given very great service to Ireland and to the wider community and we are pleased to honour him on this occasion.