WIT president’s term to end after board decision

PROFESSOR Kieran Byrne’s role as president of Waterford Institute of Technology will not be extended after the college board decided last night not to reappoint him amid controversy over his expenses.

A meeting of the WIT governing body yesterday was scheduled to ratify a second term for Mr Byrne, whose contract as head of the college for 10 years ends today, after he was recommended for reappointment from an earlier selection process.

However, after several hours discussing the issue, the board’s chairman Dr Donie Ormonde said last night that it was decided not to adopt the recommendation of the selection board. He said it was decided to broaden the search and selection process because of the strategic nature of the appointment.

The college statement was issued at 9.30pm and Prof Byrne could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

Details of spending by his office emerged on Wednesday, showing that more than €130,000 was spent on taxis since 2004 but he told the Irish Examiner the regular use of a car and driver was necessary for travel to meetings and other purposes.

A similar amount was spent on fine art and more than €500,000 was paid for public relations and photography in the same period.

Last month, the Irish Examiner reported that almost €21,000 was spent last year on Prof Byrne’s offices, which were fitted out to the value of €50,000 in a new building that opened in 2008.

The board had sought a review of costs in the president’s office from accountants Deloitte and the Higher Education Authority requested an immediate report from the college this week. A Department of Education statement on Wednesday, saying Education Minister Ruairi Quinn was aware of the issues, may also have influenced last night’s decision.


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