Ford have announced a five-year scholarship with UCC to commemorate 100 years in Ireland.
The announcement was made by executive chairman of Ford Motor Company William Clay Ford Jr at an event in the university.
The Ford Centenary Quercus Scholarship will run for five years, beginning with the 2017-18 academic year and will run until 2022.
It will assist around 50 students to realise their potential and to fully develop their talents through educational and practical support. The amount of the financial investment in the programme was not disclosed.
UCC’s Quercus Talented Students’ programme, has been running since 2015 and seeks to support and promote excellence for prospective undergraduate students and students already registered in UCC.
The new scholarship will target in particular students who show outstanding promise in the areas of active citizenship and innovation/entrepreneurship, seeking to nurture the talent of each student through support, challenge and mentoring.
Mr Ford Jr said the visit to Ireland was not just about remembering the past but about investing in the future.
“With both deep personal and business connections to Ireland, I am delighted to celebrate not only 100 years of Ford in Ireland this week, but also to support the advancement of talented students at UCC with this new scholarship programme.
“While we have a lot to celebrate about our past, I’m especially excited that this scholarship provides the opportunity for us to support a new generation of innovators and leaders that can help shape the future for the next 100 years,” he said.
Mr Ford said he was very “excited” by the prospect of helping to nurture Irish talent for the future.
“This whole trip has been a wonderful trip down memory lane and about looking back at the impact Henry Ford and Son has in Ireland. It’s spectacular and I love it but I didn’t want to leave this celebration looking back.
"It was important to me to look forward. This is our future. You guys [students] are the future and we want to invest in that future,” he said.
President of UCC Patrick O’Shea said the scholarship would help nurture the outstanding talent in the university that goes through the Quercus programme.
“We are delighted that Ford has chosen to mark and celebrate their centenary in Cork by supporting outstanding talent at our university.
“UCC, too, has played an integral part in the life of Cork, being founded 172 years ago in 1845 at the start of the famine.
“The university has overcome many challenges over its long history and is proud now to be in a position where it was designated the Sunday Times University of the Year 2017 for the second year in a row, the only Irish university to receive such a distinction.
“Nurturing talent is what we are about, as well as preparing our students for active citizenship in the social, economic, cultural and political spheres when they graduate from University College Cork.” he said.
UCC has a long-standing relationship with the Ford company dating back to the 1920s.
In 1927, UCC president Prof PJ Merriman arranged for the conferral of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Henry Ford in order to “reflect the appreciation of the great advantage conferred on the City of Cork by Ford in locating his factory there”.
Since then, many graduates of the university have found employment with the company through graduate recruitment programmes which continue today.
Following the announcement, Mr Ford Jr received an honorary Doctorate of Economic Science from UCC and the National University of Ireland (NUI).
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