Dr Patrick Prendergast to chair new TU in Ireland’s south-east

21 Feb 2022

Dr Patrick Prendergast. Image: Maxwell Photography

The former TCD provost will chair Ireland’s latest TU, which is set to open its doors in the south-east on 1 May.

Dr Patrick Prendergast, the former provost of Trinity College Dublin (TCD), will be the first chair of a new technological university (TU) in the south-east of Ireland.

The TU for the South East is due to open its doors on 1 May.

Prendergast will be joined by Glanbia CEO Jim Bergin and Sanofi executive Ruth Beadle on the inaugural governing board of the university, while a search for its first president is underway.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Science and Innovation Simon Harris, TD, formally granted TU designation status to the university today (21 February).

It will merge Institute of Technology Carlow (IT Carlow) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) to form the south-east region’s first university and Ireland’s fifth TU.

Harris hailed the designation as “a truly historic moment” for higher education in the south-east of Ireland, which came “after decades of debate”. IT Carlow and WIT filed for the designation in April last year and news of its establishment was announced in November.

Prendergast served as the provost of TCD from 2011 to 2021, when he was succeeded by Prof Linda Doyle, the university’s first female provost. Prendergast, who is originally from Wexford, is an engineer and a highly accomplished academic in Ireland.

“Having an inaugural governing board with such vast and invaluable experience will be of huge benefit to the technological university as it embarks on this new journey,” Harris said.

The new TU will have campuses in Carlow, Waterford and Wexford, with additional investment in the pipeline for new campuses in Waterford and Wexford to increase its footprint. Current students of IT Carlow and WIT will graduate with university degrees starting this year.

‘Economic success’ for south-east

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, TD, called it “a red letter day” for the south-east as the new university will “help us to secure more economic investment for the region” and “lead to more indigenous businesses being founded in the region fostering more job creation”.

“Crucial to making an economic success of Ireland’s south-east region is retaining and attracting talent and creating well-paid jobs. It’s a virtuous circle. Making higher education accessible to all is the best way to make Ireland a country of equal opportunities,” he said.

IT Carlow and WIT are now expected to undertake an open public competition to identify and propose a suitable candidate to lead the new university as its first president.

Ireland’s first technological university, TU Dublin, was announced in 2018, while Munster TU was inaugurated at the beginning of last year. TU of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest recently became Ireland’s third TU when it opened in October.

A fourth TU, which was approved in October, will be established in Ireland’s north-west after the merger of IT Sligo, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Letterkenny Institute of Technology. Named Atlantic Technological University, it is expected to open its doors on 1 April.

Patrick Prendergast at the ECB Youth Dialogue in Dublin. Image: Maxwell Photography/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic