President's Speeches and Presentations | President's Office
Greeting to Staff by Professor Daire Keogh, President, DCU 16 July, 2020
When I was appointed to this job, I never thought it would be like this on Day 1. I’d much prefer if we were in The Helix and we could see each other face to face, but that is not to be. I know that you are Zoomed out, but I didn’t want this week to go by without checking in, without saying hello, and to express to you how honoured and humbled I am to have been chosen as President of Dublin City University.
But first, I’d like to pay tribute to Brian and to thank him for his extraordinary leadership of the university for the past 10 years. He’s been a great friend to me and to all of the university. He has expended every ounce of his energy in keeping us safe and leading us on in that time. I wish himself and Catherine every happiness and success as they move on to their next great adventure.
Nothing prepared us for the experience of Covid: the isolation, the disruption and what we call ‘lockdown.’ But they say that trials are sent to test us and in a crisis situation we can either buckle or blossom. I think most of us bent, but it is fair to say that the crisis showed DCU at its very best.
From the get-go, we put our students at the centre and we put the safety of our people first. We responded with remarkable agility and our ability to move all that we do online overnight was extraordinary. The students have been very appreciative of all that you have done, but I am hugely grateful for the sacrifices that you made to make this happen.
It hasn’t been easy working from home, particularly for people with caring duties, and I’m hugely appreciative of that. The great Dubliner, Oscar Wilde, once said, ‘When it rains, look for rainbows’. Throughout the crisis, our colleagues at DCU put our best foot forward in all kinds of ways. I’m thinking of the way our colleagues here in the NRF stepped up immediately to support the frontline workers. The way in which our people in DCU iForm in Engineering worked to produce PPE. I’m thinking of the DCU Covid-19 Research and Innovation Hub and the engagement with real challenges and the new problems that we faced on a daily basis. I’m thinking of the teaching and learning that went on all the time. I’m thinking of the actions of the DCU Educational Trust, stepping up an appeal immediately to support student hardship. I’m thinking of the vitality of our colleagues in the Virtual Open Day, who sold the dream of DCU to prospective students.
But most importantly, I’m thinking of those quiet little moments of care, those unseen acts of kindness that kept people safe. One instance, that I’ve heard from a number of people, is of one colleague who hosted a virtual coffee morning every day throughout the lockdown. People felt the way in which that kept them connected in their isolation and sane throughout the crisis.
Nobody knows how long this crisis will last, but through our Scenario Planning we’ve done all that we can to give next year a shape. We know it will begin, we know it will end, and we’re working to put the middle together. Our priority is to keep you safe and sound, and to deliver the very best for our students - students who expect the year to be safe and great. We will give them the very best educational experience they deserve. This will be my priority for the coming year, and there are things that we can do to help us through.
One of the hardest parts of the Covid crisis was the sense of isolation, so I would like to nurture a sense of community through the One DCU / Our DCU programme to give us a sense of belonging and a feeling of being at home here in the university, all together. I’d also like to enhance our people focus and to look at the ways we support each other and to enable each other to thrive. Through the quality of our student experience and the excellence of our research, we will extend our positive influence on Irish life. But to do that, we will have to make choices, and we will need to focus on the important things, the things that matter.
At DCU, we have excellent principles, which will be our compass in the Covid fog. But more than that we have exceptional people, and I look forward to supporting you in my new role. I would like to thank you once more for all you have done in this crisis. When it lifts, and it will lift, I look forward to celebrating with you in The Helix. We will have an occasion, a great occasion, where we can celebrate together. But in the interim, please use this quiet time to take a break, to rest and relax, to recharge and enjoy the company of your family and friends. Thank you!
DCU Centre for Climate & Society Conference
May 5 2022
A Uachtaráin na hÉireann, Micheál D Ó hUigínn, Ambasadóirí, a aíonna ghradamúla, agus a dhaoine uaisle, cuirim fáilte rómhaibh go léir ar maidin chuig DCU don ocáid spesialta seo.
President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, Ambassadors, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to welcome you all to DCU for today’s special event, as part of the DCU Centre for Climate & Society’s inaugural conference.
Given the horrific situation in Ukraine, and the wanton, merciless, and inhumane brutality of the Russian invasion, I particularly want to acknowledge the presence of Her Excellency the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko.
A Uachtaráin, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to DCU. You have been a great friend to this University over the years, and a strong supporter of our mission to ‘transform lives and societies’.
We’re honoured that you have taken the time to join us for a number of significant occasions in the recent past. You launched the DCU Brexit Institute, you officially opened our state-of-the-art student centre the U, and you were with us for the inauguration of DCU’s ‘Autism Friendly University’ initiative.
All of these speak to your ethos and interests in terms of Democratic and European values, of young people’s education and wellbeing, and of the creation of a truly inclusive society. Thank you, President Higgins. We truly appreciate your support for what DCU does in these areas.
Today, we are delighted you’ve joined us for the inaugural Climate and Society Conference, organised by the new DCU Centre for Climate and Society. I know that this is also an area of great interest to you. We greatly look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject of Climate Change, particularly in the context of Ireland’s response to this greatest of all global challenges.
Centre for Climate and Society
The creation of the Centre for Climate and Society is a recognition that Climate Change is no longer a problem for the physical sciences alone: it is a policy problem, it is a communications problem, it is a media problem, an ethics problem, an education problem, and a corporate problem.
In fact, it is a challenge that every area of society will have to respond to. The centre’s research agenda explores the ways in which we can be more effective in addressing key questions around Climate Change:
- How do we connect with and persuade the widest possible audience about the need for a better, low carbon way of doing things?
- How do we design effective policies and legislation?
- How do enlist the active support of citizens in addressing this global crisis?
There is no doubt that research, perspectives, and unique and nuanced insights from the Social Sciences and Humanities will be key in bringing all sections of Irish society on the journey towards a low or zero carbon future.
And the work of this Centre, from the Humanities and Social Sciences perspective, will greatly enhance the work of our colleagues across all five faculties as they advance the university’s commitment to sustainability; whether it is in teacher education, or in thorny areas such as aviation in the Business School, or the quest for alternatives to fossil fuels by our colleagues in Engineering and Science.
I’d like to congratulate Dr Dave Robbins, centre director, and his co-directors Dr Diarmuid Torney and Prof Pat Brereton for their foresight in establishing the Centre, in collaboration with a talented team of Centre members from DCU’s Schools of Communications, Law and Government, History and Geography, as well as the DCU Institute of Education, and DCU Business School.
In particular, I want to thank Deloitte, and Harry Goddard, CEO of Deloitte Ireland, for their support for the Centre and its aims.
Your bold commitment is a reflection of your own values, and determination to walk the talk. Deloitte and the University have a long standing relationship. You are generous supporters of our mission to ‘Transform Lives and Society and this engagement has made this Centre possible. Thank you.
Comprehensive action is needed to address the climate crisis. And that action demands extreme urgency. As UN Secretary General António Guterres said in recent weeks, the world’s main carbon emitters must start drastically reducing their emissions by the end of this year. Within the next 6 months!
I believe the Centre for Climate Change and Society can be part of the solution. It has an ambitious, radical, some would say daunting, remit. But it's a task that we must take on board, a task that is inspired by our university’s overall mission to do nothing less than “transform lives and societies”.
DCU and Climate Change
The establishment of the centre is a critical element of DCU’s overall efforts in this area, guided by our recently published Climate Change Strategy.
Under the strategy, our aim is “to embed sustainability at the core of our university, in its teaching and learning, research, development and innovation, its operations and promoting it through its national and international engagements”.
Ultimately, the goal is to make DCU a net zero carbon University, while also ensuring that our staff, students and graduates have the knowledge and competencies to actively work for a sustainable future.
The ambition of the strategy is built on the bedrock of the diverse array of research and activities already at play in DCU.
For example, we’ve been highly successful in our efforts to reduce energy and water consumption; the DCU Water Institute does incredible research on the health of our rivers and seas; our Glasnevin campus is the site for the first major e-scooter trial with the German partners Tier and Luna, based at DCUAlpha, our innovation park.
Meanwhile, we are piloting the use of air-source heat pump technology on the magnificent All Hallows Campus to renewable energy. I understand, too, we are the only university worldwide to submit our carbon emissions to an audit with the international monitoring group CDP.
The ambition of the Centre and the task we as a society face is huge. However, to borrow again from António Guterres recent remarks, “there is still hope”.
The subject of hope reminds me of Seamus Heaney. As we gather here on DCU’s St Patrick’s campus, to which he was a frequent visitor and where a theatre is named in his honour. I think of his words. Seamus urged us to “hope for a great sea-change”.
That’s not to say that we engage in wishful thinking. The change that we hope for will involve hard work and hard choices.
But again we turn to Seamus Heaney, who expressed this better than I could when he said: "Hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is good worth working for.”
Introducing the President
Ladies and Gentlemen, it now gives me great pleasure to hand over to our guest of honour President of Ireland Michael D Higgins.
Sjur Bergan Honorary Conferring
June 16 2022
A ambasadóir, a dhaoine uaisle, ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur romhaibh go léir chuig Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath don ócáid spesialta seo.
Ambassador, ladies and gentlemen, you’re all very welcome to DCU for this very special occasion.
I am delighted to welcome Counsellor Arne Follerås - Deputy Head of Mission at the Norwegian Embassy, and also his Excellency Giovanni Buttigieg Malta’s Ambassador to Ireland.
In particular, I want to welcome Sjur's daughters - Gabriela and Catalina. Catalina has travelled from France and Gabriela has travelled from Erbil in Iraq where she works for the International Organisation of Migration.
Given Sjur’s remarkable work in the field of promoting and supporting education, it’s appropriate that we’re gathered here on DCU’s historic St Patrick’s Campus, which is home to our faculty of Education, the DCU Institute of Education, and which for almost 150 years has been Ireland’s largest centre of teacher education.
The great European philosopher and educationalist Erasmus said: “The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth”, and the generations of idealistic and enthusiastic teachers who trained here have played a pivotal part in the development of Ireland through education.
Norway and Ireland
I am delighted to see so many international friends and colleagues joining us here today to celebrate and honour the work of Sjur Bergan.
Sjur is, I believe, the first Norwegian citizen to be conferred with the Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) in the history of DCU.
In normal circumstances, my speech might lean heavily on that fact, drawing on links between Ireland and Norway.
I might start by reminding everyone that Dublin is a Norse city - founded by the Vikings over one thousand years ago.
I could say that the patron saint of Western Norway St. Sunniva was the daughter of a tenth century Irish king.
As Dublin and the world celebrates Bloomsday, I could mention that James Joyce (who lived next door on Millbourne Avenue) might not have written Ulysses were it not for the influence of his literary idol Ibsen. In fact, Joyce started to learn Norwegian so he could read the playwright’s work in its original language.
But all of that seems too narrow, too nationally focused when we speak about Sjur. It doesn’t do justice to the scope of his vision and values.
Because, in truth, Sjur is that rarest of individuals - Sjur is a true European.
Through his work with the European Council, his influence is felt right across Europe from Scandinavia to North Africa, from Ireland to the Black Sea. (Much like the Vikings, but a little more benign!)
He is someone who, throughout his career, has championed the fundamental European values that we hold dear - respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. These are values that are deeply embedded in this university.
Excellence and Values
As both the Chancellor and Prof Munck mentioned, the Doctor of Philosophy, honoris causa, is an honour that is bestowed upon individuals with a record of exceptional achievement, people who are an inspiration to our students and our wider community.
Most importantly, they are people whose work and values reflect the DCU mission ‘to transform lives and societies’. I think it is worth briefly reflecting on some examples of our common values.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to inflict untold horror and destruction, we are privileged to be able to house several hundred Ukrainian refugees on our campuses. As Ireland’s first University of Sanctuary, it is only right that we do so.
As these families look ahead to a future where they may not be able to return, they, along with refugees and asylum seekers from other countries, can at least be certain that their educational qualifications are recognised here. That’s all thanks to Sjur’s commitment to equality and inclusion, exemplified by his work in helping to draft the Lisbon Recognition Convention, as well as his contribution to the creation of the European Qualifications Passport.
DCU is a University of Place, strongly committed to meaningful and impactful engagement with our communities - whether through our Access programme (Ireland’s largest), or our DCU in the Community outreach activities, or through the work of our Centre for Engaged Research.
This ethos echoes Sjur’s tireless advocacy for the important role of Higher Education at local level. He has insisted, rightly, that community engagement cannot be optional for higher education institutions.
With Ronnie Munck and Ira Harkavy, Sjur recently edited “The Local Mission of Higher Education: Principles and Practice”. In a chapter co-authored with Ira he states: “Higher education carries an important responsibility for the future of our democracies. Higher education cannot exercise this responsibility successfully without engaging in its local community as well as nationally and internationally.” At DCU, we thank you for being one of Europe’s thought leaders in this area and for reminding us of the importance of our democratic responsibility.
As well as being a University of Place, DCU is very much a globally connected institution. We are engaged with European Higher Education partners across a whole range of activities, through Erasmus, Horizon and other programmes. We are the sole Irish member of ECIU, the European Consortium of Innovative Universities, and through Biodesign Europe we have a transatlantic partnership with Arizona State University.
Without the Bologna Process, of which Sjur was a key architect, one wonders how or if many of these extraordinary connections and networks would have been possible?
As Ronnie said, we at DCU are indeed hugely grateful to Sjur for this and his many other achievements. By any standards, your achievements and career have had an extraordinary impact, here in Ireland and globally.
In conclusion, I return to Erasmus who said: “Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” Perhaps it was with this in mind that the EU Commission’s new strategy for Higher Education describes Universities as “Lighthouses” - beacons of value, erected for the welfare of all.
In terms of his contribution to Higher Education; his promotion of democratic and civic engagement, and his passion for putting European values into action, I would suggest that Sjur himself has been, and is, a beacon. He has indeed ‘transformed lives and societies’.
On behalf of DCU, we are delighted to honour you and your work, and we welcome you to the DCU Community.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir!
In June 2022, DCU held a series of “Celebration Events” for students who graduated during the pandemic when graduation ceremonies were not possible. This speech was delivered at one of these events attended by graduates of DCU Faculty of Engineering and Computing and DCU Open Education programmes.
June 8 2022
Prof Daire Keogh
Graduates, I am delighted to welcome you back to DCU for this very special event.
Today is a unique occasion in DCU history. It’s a proud day for the DCU community - graduates, staff, and families.
The pandemic deprived us of many milestones. You, rightly, wanted an in-person event marking your achievements. DCU is driven by ‘People First’ values - we value the human touch and personal connections. Today manifests those values, and shows your strong bond with each-other and with DCU.
Finally, it’s here. The day that you worked hard for, the day that you dreamed of. After a long delay, we can celebrate, in person, the success of our graduates, who are the very purpose of the university. Congratulations Graduates - Give yourselves a round of applause!
Some of you got here in a roundabout way. I’d like to single out one graduate, Tony Flynn, who began a BSc in Computer Applications in 1991, while he was working in Aer Lingus. Life intervened and Tony deferred. Years later, and while working for Amtrak in Washington DC, he attended an event hosted by one of our own, RTE’s Washington Correspondent Caitriona Perry, where he became aware of DCU Connected. Today, he is graduating with a BA in Psychology.
Today is a proud day for you, and a proud day for parents, guardians, families. There is no doubt that study is a team sport! Today we recognise the family and friends who jockeyed you along - listened to your news, fed you, fed your ego, paid your fees, and who made sacrifices to get you here. On our graduates’ behalf, I want to thank you for your support and guidance - a round of applause!
I am very proud of my colleagues at DCU, a dedicated crew who not only do their very best, but want the very best for you, our students. I want to thank all our staff, teachers, professional, support staff, for their dedication and their personal care for students. Thanks for those who made today possible, estates, events, everyone - A round of applause!
Let us pause for a moment, too, to remember absent friends.
You are a special group of graduates. We are here to applaud your academic success, but we also celebrate your personal achievement. There’s no doubt that you faced a unique set of challenges due to Covid. Your final college years were disrupted. You had to adapt rapidly to online learning and exams. You were isolated from fellow students, friends. You then faced the transition from University to the great challenges of the world and workplace, which had been upended by the pandemic.
Martin Luther King who said: “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” You have shown intelligence, and character, in spades! As you navigated the ups and downs and uncertainty of what people called the “Corona-coaster”.
Scroll and Poem
The end of the pandemic has brought back a sense of normality, but the state of the world is still far from certain. Indeed, the horrific images from Ukraine are a reminder that we can never take things for granted. I hope that your experience here at DCU, not just what you have learned, but who you have become, will set you up to flourish in the next stage of your life.
Our Writer in Residence, the Clontarf poet Ciara Ní É has written a beautiful poem for you, which is inscribed on your scrolls, “Recommencement Address”. I’m sure you’ll agree that the poem captures the journey we’ve all been on, but it also emphasises the Carpe Diem spirit which, I hope, we are all feeling:
“Unfurl yourself fully into this new beginning,
Return now to the world with a burning love for living.”
You can all be proud to call yourselves an alum of the DCU - A university that is globally recognised, a university that does not rest on its laurels, but strives to produce the very best graduates.
There is no place for complacency at DCU, but we take pride that the latest QS Rankings for Graduate Employment Rate, places DCU as No. 1 in Ireland, and 23rd worldwide. It is not merely the fact that our graduates are employable that gives us pride, or that you are eminently promotable - and many of you have been promoted already in your short careers.
Our greatest pride is the character of DCU gratitudes - your attitude and dispositions, that absence of entitlement. Our ambition remains, to educate graduates who are ‘rounded and grounded’. People who are curious, kind, and, above all, who have empathy - that most important attribute.
The word Graduate derives from the Latin gradus, meaning a step (on a ladder or stair). Our former Chancellor Dr Martin McAleese had a great line - he said “the only thing standing between you and the top of the ladder of success, is the ladder”.
But gradus is not the word I would use, it is also the root of the words grade, and, degree, both of which suggest a linear progression, or straight line. Life is not like that, and your best times will be the diversions, the dead ends, and the plan Bs which lead you not just to success, but fulfilment, and hopefully happiness.
As you step out today, life opens a new vista full of potential and possibilities.
The Belfast writer C.S. Lewis said: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” What that will look like, none of us knows. But don't be passive, don’t be a passenger, deliver your own destiny. As you take your next steps, I know you will stay true to DCU’s mission ‘to transform lives and societies’.
That transformation does not just happen here on campus, in fact, our greatest impact is through you our graduates. You are the ones who can create a world that is more caring, sustainable, and equitable.
Make it happen! Congratulations and thank you.