UL appoints country's first ever woman president

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UL appoints country's first ever woman president

Prof Kerstin Mey who has been appointed as the interim president of University of Limerick

The first ever woman president of an Irish university has been appointed at University of Limerick, it has been announced.

Following an open competition, the chancellor of UL’s Governing Authority, Mary Harney, has confirmed the appointment of Prof Kerstin Mey as the interim president of University of Limerick.

Prof Mey, the current vice-president of Academic Affairs and Student Engagement at UL, will replace outgoing president Dr Des Fitzgerald, who announced his intention to retire in May.

Dr Fitzgerald will leave his position on September 1.

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.

The UL Governing Authority ratified the appointment of Prof Mey following a special meeting last Thursday.

Chancellor Harney said Prof Mey would be a “great appointee and one in whom we have every faith in to lead the university at a challenging time. She has already demonstrated her capacity for leadership in her role as vice-president.

“There has long been a significant gender imbalance at the senior leadership level in Irish universities and it is fitting that UL now has the first female president given our consistent leading position on gender equality in higher education in Ireland,” Ms Harney said.

The senior leadership at UL is notable for its gender equality, with five female members out of 11 or, while two of UL’s three vice-presidents and three of UL’s five deans are women.

Professor Mey, who was appointed vice-president and Prof of Visual Culture at UL in April 2018, previously held roles as pro-vice chancellor and dean of the Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design and as professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at the University of Westminster, London.

She said she was “proud and really humbled to lead the University of Limerick over the next period”.

“It is a significant opportunity and also a huge challenge and I will be aiming to work with all staff, students, Governing Authority, the communities UL serves, our stakeholders in the city and the region and, of course, the Government to underpin the role that universities will play in the economic recovery as we manage the pandemic.

“I would like to wish the outgoing president Dr Des Fitzgerald all the very best for his future and thank him for his contribution in envisioning and advancing the institution over his term in office."

Dr Fitzgerald, who took up the role of UL president on May 1, 2017, and announced his resignation from the position in May 2020, stating that the Covid-19 pandemic would directly impact his ability to serve the university and limit his ability to fully engage in the community upon a return to campus, said: “I want to congratulate Kerstin and wish her all the very best in her new role. I think UL is very fortunate to have someone of this calibre lead the university."