I am not a graduate of UCD, nor do I have any prospective connection to it. But, as a citizen, who like all readers has observed the chaotic disintegration of several facets of its leadership and moral authority, I am very surprised that it was necessary to appoint a stranger to the role of 10th president of the nation’s largest university, notwithstanding how distinguished, eminent and accomplished the appointee may be.
This appointment begs the very basic observation that if the human resources compliment of UCD do not have a sufficiently ‘impressive track record of leadership roles in the university sector’ what confidence should the tens of thousands of students and prospective students over the next decade have in the capacity of UCD to imbue them with the confidence, vitality and leadership skills necessary to cope in an era of unprecedented challenge, constraint and uncertainty?
There are thousands of individuals with impeccable qualifications across the globe capable of leading universities. But a major university is part of a nation’s blossoming civilisation and the heritage, in the case of Ireland, of its first century of Independence. It may be the practice of minor State agencies that hunker on the periphery of Irish society in a mirage of media dazzle to rummage the ‘help-wanted’ advertisements in their quest for credible leadership, but a university that cannot secure its own legacy, through its own people, has serious questions to answer.
If UCD’s Governing Authority lacks confidence in the capacity of its own people, are they waiting for international validation to be conferred by an internet search engine, or media owned by a magnate?