A year of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of University of Limerick are well and truly underway. The institution is marking the very significant milestone with a series of events - beginning with a community Picnic on the Plaza which took place in May. The University’s vision for what a sustainable campus could look like was detailed by UL President Professor Kerstin Mey at her gala dinner - also in May - which featured the launch of an inspiring video that further envisioned UL’s Past, Present and Future.Work is well underway to realise this vision, building on UL’s reputation as the home of firsts and a foundation rooted in the idea of wisdom for action. Learning from the past while looking to the future, encapsulated in the anniversary’s themes of reflecting, connecting and transforming, inspire the on-going events and projects celebrating five decades of learning, scholarship and enterprise at the university.
During the anniversary year, many of our 118,000 alumni may take the opportunity to recall their time in Plassey, reflecting on the highs and lows of their educational experience, the formative moments when their thinking or lives changed, the contribution they might have made to clubs, societies or the community, to the friends they met along the way. You can share your reflections using the online form on the UL50 website, which will contribute to the University’s archive. The University welcomes all alumni to engage in the celebrations, whether students of the University of Limerick since 1989, or its predecessor the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, as well as those from the National College of Physical Education and, since 1976, Thomond College of Education. Today the University draws its rich legacy in teaching, learning and research from these institutions.
Just as alumni will reflect on their experiences, so too will current and retired staff, many of whom will remember the challenging times of the early 1970s when the institutions were established. To learn more about the campaign that led to University of Limerick, why not visit A University of Our Time: University of Limerick 1972«2022, an exhibition on the UL campus, which opens on 27 September or watch some of the 50Voices/50Years videos on the website.
Two other exhibitions explore the role women have played in the development of higher education at Plassey, and the sporting life of the campus. Many of the voices of the last fifty years will be recalled in a special publication drawing on testimonies collected over the last ten years by the UL Oral History Project and a new catalogue the University’s vast archive of photographic images. Anniversaries are special times to take stock and reflect so it is fitting that next spring as part of UL50, a specially designed memorial garden for deceased staff and students will be opened.
Moments of celebration are also times to connect or re-connect. UL has long-established relationships with businesses, charities, non-governmental organisations, schools and the public service who join us every year to provide opportunities to students to learn within a work-based environment. The University’s co-operative education programme remains one of most important elements of every UL undergraduate’s experience.
In June our Global Partners week and a national symposium on The European Dimension in Irish Education celebrated our international connections while in July, UL50 marked Bastille Day with the French embassy and in partnership with the University of Nantes as part of the Wild Geese Festival concert in King John’s Castle. Until May 2023, events are being held in Limerick and across Ireland and beyond, to allow us meet with old friends and colleagues and make new connections with these valued partners.
An Anniversary Gala week in November will be the highlight of UL50 when a number of alumni will receive special recognition for their contribution to culture, business and society. Around this time, the first of fifty trees will be planted to enhance one of Ireland’s most beautiful university campuses.
On Thursday of that week, a Celebration of Music in UL concert takes place in the University Concert Hall, featuring the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, students and internationally known and critically acclaimed guest musicians from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. The performance will include the premiere of a new jubilee anthem for UL, co-commissioned by the University and RTÉ lyric fm, Beatha an Scoláire, written by alumnus and Hollywood composer Patrick Cassidy.
The University will also celebrate its connection with Limerick and the wider region by hosting a number of internationally renowned speakers as part of the President’s Jubilee Lecture Series.
Universities have always been places where minds are shaped, and knowledge is formed and disseminated. The University of Limerick prides itself on the transformative learning and research it has been involved in for five decades, and is excited to reveal plans for how the University will continue to offer new ways of learning and how it will contribute to the local and global challenges that face us. Imagining and anticipating what the next fifty years holds for learners, researchers and our society more broadly is at the heart of the University’s sustainable and regenerative futures initiative, which will be discussed and unveiled during the anniversary year.
In responding to the United Nations call for a more sustainable world, in 2022 the University launched a Challenge to students to find technological, commercial and behavioural solutions to tackle the global climate crisis and ensure a more viable future. The Challenge offers an opportunity not only to identify solutions but also to put them into action with the help of partners across the region and country.
Part of our commitment to the future is also investing in talent and facilitating access to the university from all parts of society. Supported by the UL Foundation through the generous donations of alumni, businesses and supporters, the 50forFifty Initiative will award scholarships to students from diverse backgrounds and across all disciplines to allow them to achieve their educational ambitions. To date, 37 scholarships have been created with commitments totalling €900,000. To discover how you can get involved, go to the UL Foundation website www.ulfoundation.com
Reflect, connect and join us on the next transformative chapter in the story of University of Limerick. Learn more about what is happening in the following pages and bookmark www.ul.ie/50 to stay up to date with events throughout the year.