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22 June 2024  

Election of NUI Chancellor: Hustings Debate


A hustings debate in the run-up to the election of an NUI Chancellor took place in the Royal College of Convocation LogoSurgeons on Wednesday evening 4th February. The debate was organised by the NUI Council of Convocation (Chair, Linda O’Shea Farren) and was chaired by RTE’s Mark Little.

The two candidates for the Chancellorship - Professor James Heffron, DSc, PhD, MRIA, FRSC, FICI, CChem, EurChem, CSci and Dr Maurice A Manning, BA, MA, DLitt. Each candidate gave a fifteen-minute presentation, outlining their respective backgrounds and their views on what is involved in the role of Chancellor.

Professor Heffron would see priorities for the new Chancellor being the promotion of NUI for its importance in several aspects of higher education, to promote the ‘visibility’ of NUI; to help source funding for the university, and in this respect to look to the English models of Oxford and Cambridge. In promoting the NUI in its international standing, the new Chancellor, he feels, should focus on attracting more students and should take a newer and more proactive role in the advancement of the university, both for monetary and intellectual purposes.

Dr Manning believes that NUI was a unifying force at the time of its establishment and has continued in that role. The NUI Senate has always been above party politics, has promoted solidarity among Irish universities and provided a forum for dialogue. He feels that there is no getting away from the basic issue of the survival of NUI and that the first task of the new Chancellor will be to face that issue, by leadership, by deepening the federal process and working together with heads of the constituent universities.

Both candidates emphasised the NUI’s commitment to high academic and intellectual standards.

Mark Little fielded questions and comments from the audience; the candidates’ views were sought on university funding for re-training; disparity of funding as between Science and the Arts; student fees; the role of recognised colleges; whether there should be a fixed term for Chancellor.

At the conclusion of the meeting, The Chairman of Convocation thanked the candidates, the audience, and Mark Little. She presented Mark Little with the two NUI Centenary publications: The National University of Ireland 1908 - 2008, and A Century of Scholarship, Travelling Students of the National University of Ireland.