Deeks said UCD had come through the pandemic in ‘a strong position’, and he will leave in April 2022 for Perth’s Murdoch University.
The president of University College Dublin (UCD), Prof Andrew J Deeks, is to step down from his role in April next year. Deeks plans to move back to his native Australia to take up the position of vice-chancellor at Murdoch University in Perth.
He was the first Australian to lead an Irish university, taking up the UCD presidency in 2014. The university’s deputy president and registrar, Prof Mark Rogers, will become acting president until the governing authority appoints a replacement.
While Deeks said he has “greatly enjoyed” his time at UCD, he added that his 10-year term as president was “rapidly coming to an end” and he “could not pass up” an opportunity to lead a university in his hometown.
“I have been constantly impressed by the dedication and commitment of our faculty and staff, by the talent and achievement of our students, by the generous support we have received from alumni and philanthropists, and by the productive partnerships we have formed with companies and organisations,” he said.
“My family and I have felt very welcome and at home here in Ireland, and we have built some great friendships.”
Deeks thanked all the members of the UCD community for their support throughout his tenure and throughout the pandemic, adding that the university “has come through the trials of the pandemic in good shape”.
He added that it is “in a strong position academically and financially” with “exciting plans for the future”. He pointed to a major construction project that will see its campus expanded as part of a ‘Rising to the Future’ strategy.
The university recently received a loan from the European Investment Bank worth €350m for the expansion of its Belfield campus. The project is estimated to cost around €1bn in total.
Commenting on Deeks’ decision to step down, Marie O’Connor, chair of the UCD Governing Authority, said, “We are sorry to be losing Andrew before the end of his term, but we understand his decision.
“I would like to thank him for his leadership over these eight years, which have been very challenging for Irish universities. Andrew’s term as president started during a period of austerity and funding cuts and extended through the global pandemic.”
O’Connor concluded that she was “confident” that acting president Rogers would “continue to steer the university” and that the Governing Authority will soon start the search for Deeks’ successor.
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