A NEW chapter in the history of University College Cork (UCC) will begin this morning when Professor Michael Murphy starts his 10-year term as college president.
The country’s second biggest third-level institution has been the subject of some controversy in recent years, but the fresh approach likely to be brought to its leadership under Prof Murphy is viewed as a potential turning point for its fortunes and profile.
The head of UCC’s college of health and medicine is taking over from Prof Gerry Wrixon whose retirement was marked with some of the 2,000 staff yesterday evening at a private function where his official portrait was unveiled along with other past-presidents in the college’s historic Aula Maxima hall. He stepped down two years before his term ended, despite receiving Government clearance to continue beyond the public service retirement age when he turned 65 in May 2005.
A number of concerns raised by Governing Body member Professor Des Clarke about management of finances under Prof Wrixon’s tenure are the subject an ongoing inquiry by a former top senior civil servant, with the findings due to be presented to the newly elected governing body later this month.
Prof Murphy inherits some of the biggest debts of any of the country’s universities but also takes over at a time when Government investment in third level is facing a turnaround from a number of years of neglect.
The 53-year-old has a strong record of research publications in his own field of medicine, while his open personality is expected to earn him favour with academics from all disciplines.
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