The President hosted a lunchtime reception on Friday the 7th June in the Bourne Vincent Gallery to acknowledge the successful Athena SWAN recipients.
UL as you will be aware was the first institution with Trinity College to be awarded the prestigious AS Award back in 2015. Since that time the institution through the exceptional hard work of Department Self-Assessment Team (SAT) Members has achieved 8 Bronze Awards.
The Department of Biological Science and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics were the first 2 departments to achieve awards in 2016. The applications were led at that time by Professor Sean Arkins and by Dr. Alan Hegarty and Dr. Sarah Mitchell in Maths & Stats;
In 2017 (PESS) the Physical Education and Sports Science Department led by Professor Mary O’Sullivan were successful. Followed by the School of Education (the first school of education to achieve an awarded) led by Prof. Marie Parker Jenkins and Dr. Aoife Neary and the Department of Physics led by Prof. David Corcoran and Dr. Deirdre NiEidhin in 2018.
In November 2017, our steering committee made the decision to apply for the Athena SWAN expanded charter rather than renewing to the AS STEMM standard.
In our successful application, UL became the first institution to upgrade our existing award to the expanded charter and the second university to receive this accolade along with Maynooth University.
The award clearly recognises the work undertaken to address gender equality on a broader horizon including arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. This promotes equality and diversity across all disciplines and genders.
Congratulations must also be awarded to the Kemmy Business School, the Graduate Entry Medical School and the School of Allied Health who have also been successful in achieving Bronze Awards to the expanded charter.
I would particularly like to congratulate Dr Christine Cross and Professor Philip O'Regan (KBS); Professor Norelee Kennedy and Dr Amanda Clifford (School of Allied Health) and Professor Ailish Hannigan (GEMS) who led their AS Self-Assessment Teams and their schools application process.
In April, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics submitted a Silver Department Award led by Dr. Sarah Mitchell and Dr Alan Hegarty. To achieve a silver award the department must demonstrate the impact Athena SWAN has had within their specific department. Hopefully M&S have been able to demonstrate that effectively. The achievement of a silver award would put UL well on the road to achieve our key strategic objective of achieving a Silver Institution Award. So no pressure Maths & Stats.
We are looking to proactively improve the position of women, men where appropriate and under-represented groups at every level of our institution and I look forward to deliver on our 4 year comprehensive AS Gender Action Plan.
Added to that, UL is the highest performing institute in Ireland with 32% female representation at full professor level – an astonishing rise from the 8% in 2007.
Furthermore, female representations on committees and at senior posts across our academic faculties are well above the required national averages determined by the Minister for Education.
To that end, the University of Limerick remains strongly committed to inclusion and equality and indeed welcomes the new measures announced by the Minister for Education Joe McHugh that the Department of Education has lowered the eligibility criteria for asylum seeker students to go on to third level education here.
In 2017 UL was awarded the status of University of Sanctuary by City of Sanctuary in the UK. Amongst other attributes, I believe our commitment to equality and diversity underpins our designation as Sunday Times Irish University of the Year 2019.
This is a time for congratulations and to take pride in our outstanding achievements to date as UL now has eight schools/departments with Bronze Awards - the highest in the country.
All that I am left with now is to thank my fellow members of the Athena SWAN Steering Committee, the Faculty Athena SWAN Self-Assessment and those who took the time to complete the AS Equality and Diversity Attitudes Survey.
Special congratulations must also be afforded to Dr Marie Connolly, Head of Equality & Diversity who led the institution application and who with Maureen Keogh, Athena SWAN Administrator, Equality & Diversity Office HR, also supported the school/department submissions.