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HE Update

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) is the representative body for Ireland’s seven universities. The primary focus of the IUA is on developing strategy and influencing policy in order to advance third and fourth level education and research in Ireland. Following a restructuring earlier this year, a new position of IUA Director General was created and Mr. Jim Miley was appointed to the position. You may have seen or heard Jim on various media channels in recent weeks. This is a reflection of an increased emphasis on IUA communications and, in particular, on making sure that the University sectoral perspective is understood clearly. One recent example of this was the publicity surrounding the release of the IUA pre-budget submission in early July. You may be interested in reading that submission, which can be found here. In the coming months, a new IUA Charter will be released and a new communications campaign on the value of universities to Irish society will be initiated.

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde 'inspired and energized' by visit to DCU

On June 26th, we were delighted to welcome Madame Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, to both DCU Alpha and to the Helix where she engaged in a conversation on global and national issues, including education, innovation and inclusion.

At DCU Alpha, Madame Lagarde was greeted by Campus Director, Ronan Furlong, and engaged with a number of companies located onsite, including Siemens, FIRE1, Robotify, Novaerus, Shimmer and Talent Garden, Europe’s largest digital innovation co-working platform, which is due to open on the DCU Alpha campus in September.

Tweeting about her visit to DCU, Madame Lagarde stated “I had the opportunity to meet with faculty, students, innovators and social entrepreneurs...I am inspired and energized by their projects and ideas for the future!”.

Following the DCU Alpha visit, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Madame Lagarde before an audience of nearly 800 in the Helix. From start to finish, Madame Lagarde blended insight with empathy, warmth and humour, providing a personal account of the people and events that influenced her through her life and career to date.

As with any such major event, a large number of individuals across many parts of the University made significant contributions. Thank you to everyone who played a role in making the day so successful!

You can watch the conversation with Madame Lagarde in full here.

DCU confers Honorary Doctorate on Speaker of UAE Parliament

On June 21st, a DCU Honorary Doctorate was conferred upon H.E. Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, Chairperson and Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC - the United Arab Emirates Parliament).

In 2015, Dr Amal made history when she was elected Speaker of the FNC, becoming the first woman in the Arab world to be elected to such a key political position. The Honorary Doctorate was in recognition of Dr. Amal’s international leadership as an advocate for women’s and societal issues and values.

DCU launches Ireland’s first Centre of Excellence for Diversity & Inclusion

June 21st was an important day at DCU as we launched Ireland's first Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion.

The Centre will focus on diversity and inclusion research and practice for industry, higher education and Government. The Centre aims to help organisations to build cultures of inclusion by providing access to the very latest in academic research, insights and tools for diversity and inclusion. It will Forge alliances and collaborate with industry and other partners on implementing best practice. It will also facilitate knowledge exchange and workshops on key issues, such as policy development.

Among the special guests participating in the launch event were former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese; social entrepreneur and autism advocate, Adam Harris; social justice advocate, Michael Barron; Employer Disability Information HR & Disability Project Manager, Seonaid O'Murchadha; founder of Empower The Family, Deborah Somorin; and Group Business Editor of Independent News & Media, Dearbhail McDonald.

DCU takes centre-stage at InspireFest 2018

DCU was well represented at InspireFest 2018 in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatres recently (June 21-22). A unique, two-day international festival that combines technology, science, design and the arts with an ethos of diversity and inclusion, InspireFest featured over 60 speakers and 3,000 attendees from almost 40 countries - with women accounting for 64% of speakers. Leaders, professionals, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, coders, academics, students, decision-makers and influencers all gathered to share ideas and opinions at what was a fascinating melting pot of talent and fresh thinking.

Two very important DCU contributions came respectively from InspireFest panelist and Accounting & Finance student, Nikita Nazz Siddique, who spoke eloquently and passionately on the topic of ‘Next Generation: The Future is Now’ and from Keynote Speaker Dr Anne Looney, Executive Dean, DCU Institute of Education, who delivered a thought-provoking address on the evolving role of the teacher (which you can watch back here).

I’d like also to thank the teams at DCU Water Institute, the School of Health & Human Performance, DCU ADAPT and Director of Alumni Relations, Ross Munnelly, who showcased some of the scientific research and alumni initiatives being undertaken at DCU.

 DCU study highlights mental health difficulties among children

A DCU study launched on June 20th has found that primary schools are dealing with very young children with serious mental health difficulties and that the absence of a nationwide, dedicated primary schools counselling service is placing huge pressure on teachers ill-equipped to respond to students in distress.

The research, entitled ‘Primary Schools Counselling Study: Demand and provision of school based counselling in Ireland’, was led by Dr Rosaleen McElvaney, School of Nursing and Human Sciences (pictured) who collaborated with colleagues Dr Evelyn Gordon and Deirdre Judge. The report found that primary school children are experiencing significant psychological difficulties and are in need of professional help.

Funded by St Patrick’s Mental Health Services and launched by the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, the report recommends the urgent establishment of a nationwide primary schools’ counselling service.

The study was conducted among primary school principals and counsellors dealing with children from 4-13 years of age throughout Ireland between August 2016 and November 2017. Up to 3,256 primary school principals were invited to complete an online questionnaire, with 1,282 school principals (39.4%) responding. In addition, 10 counsellors who are currently providing counselling to primary school children were interviewed.

Family issues and relationship breakdowns were cited as the most common underlying cause for distress in children. Up to a quarter of school principals also reported the occurrence of a “critical” incident in their school, varying from a bomb scare to suicide to murder.

You can find out more about the research here.

World Refugee Day: DCU and FutureLearn announce 30 Scholarships

DCU and FutureLearn, a global leader in online learning, recently announced 30 refugee scholarships.

Marking World Refugee Day (June 20th), the co-sponsorship is part of a joint DCU / FutureLearn scholarship initiative that will enable refugees and asylum seekers to pursue certificates of completion from a wide range of courses offered on FutureLearn’s online platform.

FutureLearn boasts 8 million learners globally and partners with almost 150 universities, institutions, professional bodies and businesses around the world.

Among the courses offered on the FutureLearn platform is DCU’s ‘Irish 101’, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) launched earlier this year, and one of the first of its kind to offer Irish language learning globally. ‘Irish 101’ is co-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as part of the 20-year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030, supported by the National Lottery.

Announcing the 30 new scholarships, Mark Lester, Director of Partnerships Development at FutureLearn, said: “DCU has long been a champion of online education in Europe, and we are proud to be hosting its ‘Irish Language and Culture’ and ‘High Performance Computing in the Cloud’ courses. We are delighted to be building upon our partnership with DCU in providing 30 scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland, who will have an opportunity to access hundreds of flexible learning options.”

More information is available here.

AIB and PwC extend support for DCU’s Centre for Family Business to 2021

We have recently announced a new agreement that will see AIB and PwC extend their support for our Centre for Family Business to 2021. Developed with the assistance of DCU Educational Trust, this new agreement will enable the Centre to expand its work to support Irish family businesses through research, events, publications and a new Connectivity Project, a peer-to-peer mentoring programme that will enable family business leaders to engage and share personal experience and learnings on specific issues of interest to family business.

Since its establishment in 2013, DCU’s Centre for Family Business has established a reputation as a hub of expertise and advice, helping Irish family firms to address issues such as generational succession, integration of family and non-family talent, inheritance and estate planning, growth and exports, and the role of entrepreneurship and innovation in family business success. The Centre has engaged with over 1,500 family firms through three national conferences and other events and has participated in the worldwide Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurial Practices (STEP) project, enabling Irish family firms to draw on international research and practice insights.

The support of AIB and PwC since 2015 has been vital in enabling the Centre to provide a platform to enhance the competitiveness of Irish family firms, to offer insights into international best practice of family firm management and to shape future policy in relation to this thriving sector.

DCU Library launches gallery space and exhibition of collections

Along with University Librarian, Mr Christopher Pressler, I had the pleasure of launching DCU’s new exhibition gallery on Tuesday, 19 June at the O’Reilly library on our Glasnevin campus.

The gallery showcases an inaugural exhibition featuring 750 years of the Library’s historic materials, including manuscripts, early printed books and pamphlets, and more contemporary private papers of leading actors in media and politics, as well as photographic collections.

Exhibition highlights include a 13th century manuscript bible, a volume of Martin Luther’s works, a Shakespeare folio, and a Bedell bible, the first published in the Irish language. Our archives bear witness to historic Irish and international events, including the protracted turmoil of the Irish revolutionary period, the unfolding of events in Danzig prior to World War II from the perspective of leading Irish diplomat, Sean Lester, key correspondence between former Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey and international leaders, and the ground-breaking media work of Mary Raftery.

This and a wealth of other materials in DCU Library’s collections will provide invaluable sources for researchers across humanities, and social, natural and applied sciences for generations to come. I would strongly encourage you to take the opportunity of viewing the new exhibition gallery.

DCU’s collections have benefited hugely from generous donations, not least in the fields of media, politics, literature and education. The University also acknowledges the legacy of collections which have come into our care since the incorporation of the Church of Ireland College of Education, the Mater Dei Institute of Education and St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra into the University.

DCU students prominent in team Éirloop at SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Championship

I want to wish the very best of luck to the 16 DCU students who are currently preparing to compete as part of team Éirloop at the upcoming SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Championship in California later in July.

Dubbed the ‘Olympics of Engineering’, the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition consists of 20 student-led teams from top institutions across the world designing and building hyperloop prototypes to travel at the highest possible speed down a one-mile vacuum tube at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The 20 teams were selected from over 700 globally.

This year marks the first time that a team from Ireland will be taking part in this prestigious competition.

On June 26th, DCU students, including Bartlomiej Bara (captain Team Éirloop), Akhil Voorakkara (Head of Electronics for Team Éirloop) and Nina Kanti (Lead Software Architect for Team Éirloop), joined other team members to unveil the Hyperloop pod to an audience at DCU, including Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation and Research and Development, John Halligan TD.

Prof. Lisa Looney, Executive Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Computing, who hosted the launch event, said:

“The Éirloop team has illustrated what can be achieved when the analytical thinking and the expansive creativity which we strongly associate with engineers, are combined with people, teamwork and communication skills and, most importantly, with a deliberate growth mindset. The future of Irish technological innovation is in safe hands.”

And the results are in . . .

With end-of-year examination results published in recent weeks, I want to take the opportunity to thank all academic and administrative staff in DCU for their unwavering commitment in preparing, administering and correcting examinations and in processing examination results.

Remembering Prof. John Coolahan

At the start of June, we learned with great sadness of the passing of Prof John Coolahan.

John was a colossus in Irish education for more than five decades, with a broad international reputation for his scholarly output. Moreover, he was a friend to many in DCU, particularly to those who joined the University through the Incorporation process that was completed in 2016.

John was formerly Chair of the Governing Body of both St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra and the Mater Dei Institute of Education. In September 2017, he was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by DCU in recognition of his immense contribution to education in Ireland.

Among the Education community, John Coolahan was accorded universal respect. That respect was based not only on his scholarly achievements but also, more significantly, on the deep regard for his values, his humanity, and his integrity.

John was a giant of education reform and a true friend of DCU. Ní fheicfear a leithêid arís.


You can read DCU’s tribute to John Coolahan in full here.