Why it’s time for a woman to become president of an Irish university

Posted in Governance and administration on February 23rd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“The review carried out last year by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) confirmed what many commentators had observed for years: women are ‘vastly under-represented in top positions within the higher education sector’. While 52% of entry-level academic positions are filled by women, they represent only 19% of professorships …” (more)

[Linda Connolly, Irish Times, 22 February]

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Irish Language Committee asks NUIG to reconsider decision on future presidents not being required to be fluent in Irish

Posted in Governance and administration on December 21st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“At its meeting on 13 December 2016, the Standing Joint Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands agreed to request the Governing Authority of the National University of Ireland, Galway to reconsider its decision that future Presidents of the University will not be required to be fluent in Irish …” (more)

[Houses of the Oireachtas, 21 December]

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NUIG drops requirement for president to be fluent in Irish

Posted in Governance and administration on December 5th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“NUI Galway has dropped its long-standing requirement that the president of the university must be fluent in Irish. At a recent meeting of the college’s governing authority, Údarás na hOllscoile, a majority of members voted to change the recruitment criteria on the basis that it was limiting the pool of potential candidates …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 4 December]

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University Governance – Presidential Residences

Posted in Governance and administration on June 23rd, 2016 by steve

IrelandAlan Kelly (Tipperary, Labour): To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of universities that currently provide a residence for their president; if he is aware of any universities in the process of purchasing such properties; if such expenditure is an appropriate use of public funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter …” (more)

[Dáil written answers, 21 June]

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Why are university bosses paid so much?

Posted in Governance and administration on December 14th, 2015 by steve

InternationalTimes Higher Education (THE) has an article by Ellie Bothwell about the earnings of university heads in the USA and the UK. The US data is from the Chronicle of Higher Education. The sums paid are in some cases extraordinary …” (more)

[University Ranking Watch, 14 December]

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Life is a struggle on €232,000, says university president #WTF?

Posted in Governance and administration on December 16th, 2014 by steve

Ireland“Dr Michael Murphy, president of UCC, tells us that the heads of Irish universities ‘are as challenged at paying their bills as anyone else’ according to a report by Niamh Horan in the Irish Independent …” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 16 December]

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The Higher Education and Research Bill 2014 – 4. Individual institutions: Governance

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on April 6th, 2014 by steve

The governance provisions of the bill are pretty dense, and their purpose is not altogether clear, as in many respects they simply restate the existing position – here as elsewhere, the bill rides two horses, seeking to restate the law and to reform it, and ending up not quite achieving either. However, there are a number of distinct proposals for change here:

Governing authority – chair. The bill introduces, for all higher education institutions, the same rule as is currently in force for universities, namely that the governing authority decides for itself whether its chair will be the chief officer or an independent chair (cl 16). I would imagine (though it is not awfully clear) that this choice is meant to be made afresh with each new governing authority – this needs to be clarified.

Governing authority – tenure. Tenure of all governing authority members is now stated to be 48 months, “one-time continuously renewable” (cl 15(4)). This is a considerable reduction from the current position, and it might be questioned whether this is long enough. (Senator Averil Power has already questioned whether this is long enough for the chair.) Is a one-size-fits-all rule really needed? A general reduction in terms is certainly possible without specifying in legislation the precise number of months that are to be served.

Chief officer – tenure. “The chief officer shall have tenure of 48 months, renewable once” (cl 23(3)). Again, a considerable reduction, and without much explanation. It is not enough to parrot that industry CEOs can usually expect such short terms – higher education institutions are a good deal slower to move than commercial firms, and correspondingly greater harm can be done by heads desperate to make their mark over a short period. More explanation needed!

Loss of institutional control. By cl 36(8), an institution that exceeds its budget for more than 24 months “will be placed under the direct financial control of the Higher Education and Research Grants Committee”. Given that most costs of Irish higher education institutions are staffing costs, there is a pretty clear threat here, especially given what is said later on redundancy.

Each of these proposed changes has its merits, but the overwhelming conclusion is that the true scale of the problem is not being taken seriously. Each institution is unique, and the balance of interests within it needs detailed attention – which is why the Universities Act 1997 s 16 (“Composition of governing authority”) ended up making separate provision for each of the institutions it covered. Broad aims such as reducing term limits need not be carried out in such a prescriptive way: local flexibility must be part of the mix.

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No sex for the President

Posted in Life on January 24th, 2014 by steve

“With apologies for the salacious title of this post. When you and I were students, and when we were staying in some student residence or other, some of us if we’re old enough may have been subject …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 24 January]

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The view from the top

Posted in Governance and administration on August 6th, 2013 by steve

“One of the curiosities of the system of higher education in these islands is that we know relatively little about the views of its leaders …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 6 August]

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UCD could have looked to homegrown leader

Posted in Governance and administration on August 5th, 2013 by steve

“… I am very surprised that it was necessary to appoint a stranger to the role of 10th president of the nation’s largest university, notwithstanding how distinguished, eminent and accomplished the appointee may be …” (more)

[Myles Duffy, Irish Examiner, 5 August]

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Are our university presidents representative?

Posted in Governance and administration on July 17th, 2013 by steve

“University College Dublin has announced that its new president, starting January 2014, will be Professor Andrew Deeks currently Pro-Vice Chancellor for Science at the University of Durham (UK). He is an engineer by training …” (more)

[Kevin Denny: Economics more-or-less, 17 July]

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University President: The Comic Strip!

Posted in Life on December 1st, 2012 by steve

“Just a quick plug for a new webcomic which *cough* I of course don’t have anything to do with. A ‘candid look inside contemporary university administration’, University President follows its protagonist through the mine field that is running a major player in the education industry …” (more)

[illusory promise, 1 December]

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Top Scholar Presidents and University Performance

Posted in Governance and administration on January 25th, 2010 by steve

“… Goodall’s findings are mainly based on UK data. Roughly, they are that university rankings correlate rather closely with how well-cited the presidents of the relevant universities are, and that there is strong evidence of the research standing of presidents driving university performance. It is hard to understand why this finding (or the book in general) was dissed by Tyler as a ‘radical attack on economic reasoning’ …” (more)

[Organizations and Markets, 24 January]


University Governance – Taking a page out of the Bankers Book!

Posted in Governance and administration on February 23rd, 2009 by steve

“The state of Governance in Irish Universities since the introduction of the Universities Act, 1997 has been the subject of recent commentary within the wider media. With the disclosure of serious revelations about governance within Anglo Irish Bank, the Banking Regulatory Authorities and the state Board FAS, many are now seriously questioning what is the appropriate role of a Governing Authority within an Irish University. The 1997 Act specifically established the Governing Authority to ensure that proper accountability was in place for the actions of a President and senior management not only to oversee fiscal responsibility and budgetary compliance but also to guarantee that the functions of a university are performed by or on the directions of its governing authority. These functions include …” (more)

[University Blog on Academic Tenure in Ireland, 23 February]

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