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Minister Harris welcomes historic appointment of female President of University of Limerick

Fri, 10 Jul 2020

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, has welcomed the appointment of Professor Kerstin Mey as Interim President of University of Limerick.

Professor Mey, the current Vice President Academic Affairs and Student Engagement at UL, will replace outgoing president Dr Des Fitzgerald, who announced his intention to retire in May.

The Chancellor of UL’s Governing Authority, Mary Harney, made the announcement on Thursday following a special meeting of the Governing Authority.

Appointed after an open competition, the Interim President will serve as Chief Officer of the University until the appointment of a new President through an open international recruitment process, which is expected to take up to 18 months once commenced. 

Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to welcome the appointment of Professor Mey as interim president of the University of Limerick. This is a key strategic appointment in our higher education sector.

“I am particularly pleased to welcome Professor Mey as the first female president of a university in Ireland. Her prolific academic record, renowned research and established leadership both in Ireland and internationally will be of immense benefit to the university and I wish all in the university well in this new and exciting phase. I look forward to visiting in due course to see the work for myself.

“This is an historic appointment. I want to state my commitment to the roll-out of the senior academic leadership initiative in higher education set in place by the last Government, to increase the number of women at professor level in our universities.

“We all recognise that there is work to be done to improve diversity at the top of our academic institutions. We are fortunate to have immense talent among our staff, and among our students and graduates – the future academic leaders. I look forward to working with all of our institutions on a range of measures to enhance diversity, in every aspect, among our leadership, our emerging leadership and, importantly, among our student body. Higher education is a conduit to so many paths in life, and we want to ensure that this experience is possible for students from every type of background who aspire to it.

“These are challenging times for our higher education sector as we work collaboratively to best support the reopening of the institutions, and on the longer term planning for the delivery of higher education in a Covid world. I look forward to working with Professor Mey and the heads of all of our higher education institutions as we collaborate to chart the way forward for higher education in Ireland.

“I would also like to pay tribute to Dr Des Fitzgerald, who recently retired as President of the University of Limerick. He led the university at an important time in its development, and an important time for higher education. His contribution to higher education in Ireland is inestimable and I am sure that his contribution and support will continue in other guises.”