University of Limerick’s Governing Authority has voted unanimously to appoint former Tánaiste Mary Harney as chancellor of the university and chairperson of its Governing Authority.
Ms Harney will take up the post, which is honorary, immediately and hold it until 2022.
She retired from politics in 2011 and is now the director of a number of private companies in the pharmaceutical, healthcare, technology and financial services sectors.
Dr Des Fitzgerald, President, University of Limerick, said: "I wholeheartedly welcome the decision of the Governing Authority and know that the appointment of Mary Harney as our Chancellor will allow us to draw on her extensive experience as a leader and as an eminent public figure in Ireland and internationally.
"Mary has always been a pioneer in her field and a mould breaker in her political and public life.
"I look forward to her bringing that same pioneering spirit to UL’s new Governing Authority at a time of change and renewed ambition for this great institution."
Ms Harney said she was "deeply honoured and delighted" to be appointed.
She said: "UL is a nimble, responsive university at the forefront of innovation in pedagogy, delivering research with significant real world impact and yet has huge potential to grow and mature.
"I look forward to working with the President and the Governing Authority to develop further and enhance the education and research potential of this great university."
Ms Harney, who was born in Galway, studied economics at Trinity College and was the first woman auditor of the “Hist” debating society.
After graduation she spent a year teaching mathematics and economics in Castleknock College.
In 1977, her political career began when she was appointed to the Senate, becoming the youngest ever member of Seanad Éireann.
She served as Tánaiste for nine years and became the first woman to lead a political party in Ireland.
She was also the longest-serving female TD in the State's history.