Document sent to staff disrupts UCC selection process

PART of the selection process to appoint the head of a new academic college at University College Cork was cancelled after material, relating to some candidates, was circulated among staff.

UCC’s seven faculties are being streamlined into four colleges for which appointments will be made this year.

At least five people were shortlisted for the job of head of the College of Business and Law. They were due to make presentations to commerce and law faculty members on Tuesday, in the presence of the selection board. This is a traditional element of senior UCC academic appointments.

But staff in the relevant faculties were yesterday told by human resources director Tom O’Leary the presentations have been cancelled.

“As a result of a development this week, it would now be inappropriate to require candidates to give presentations in the manner intended to the wider college audience,” he wrote in an e-mail circulated yesterday afternoon.

“I very much regret that what was intended as a means to include wider engagement with the college members in the appointment of the Head of College has become affected in this way.”

The presentations will now be made privately to the selection board on Tuesday.

Early this week, a two-page document, purporting to be an editorial written by UCC president Professor Gerry Wrixon for student newspaper The College Examiner, was sent anonymously to staff of the faculties coming under the college of business and law.

It made specific reference to one of the candidates, Joe Gantly, a businessman and member of UCC’s governing body. He headed the consultation process last year which preceded the restructuring proposed in 2004 by Prof Wrixon, in line with restructuring occurring in universities internationally.

The reforms were strongly opposed by some sections of UCC’s academic community, many of whom also disputed the extension of Prof Wrixon’s tenure last year. This allowed him to remain in office beyond his 65th birthday following Government approval.

UCC has received no official complaint about the material, but its circulation was a factor in the change to the selection process.

A spokesperson said: “It has been changed as a result of the inappropriate and unsavoury action of a small number of people trying to disrupt UCC going about its legitimate business and decision was taken out of consideration to the candidates.”

The document is known to have been distributed to most staff of the relevant faculties through UCC’s internal mailing system, unknown to college authorities until after the fact.

“The manner of its distribution is completely inappropriate because it’s a misuse of public funds for purposes. It was not official university material but it was distributed widely using legitimate resources of UCC,” the spokesperson said.

Professor Pat Fitzpatrick was appointed earlier this month as head of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science, while appointments have yet to be made to the schools of Medicine and Health, and Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences.

More in this section