UCD appoints external candidate as president

Prof Andrew J Deeks, pro vice-chancellor in science at Durham University, will succeed Dr Hugh Brady

Professor Andrew J Deeks, president-elect at UCD.

Professor Andrew J Deeks, president-elect at UCD.

Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 10:30

UCD has broken with tradition by appointing an external academic as its next president.

Prof Andrew J Deeks, an Australian-educated engineer who is currently pro vice-chancellor in science at Durham University, will also be the first non-Irish head of the university.

He takes up the €200,000 a year post in January, succeeding Dr Hugh Brady, whose ten-year tenure finishes at the end of December.

Prof Deeks came through a lengthy selection procedure, including being questioned earlier this month by a select panel of staff and student representatives about his vision for the university.

He was the only candidate to appear before the panel after another shortlisted candidate - who was also based overseas - dropped out of the contest, The Irish Times understands.

A number of internal candidates were eliminated at an earlier stage of the competition.

Prof Deeks’ record in helping Durham University to rise through international university rankings was cited as a major factor in his appointment. Sources close to the process also said he gave “quite thoughtful” presentations to satisfy interviewers who were drawn from both humanities and sciences.

Annoucing the appointment yesterday, the chairman of the UCD governing authority Dermot Gallagher said “Andrew Deeks has an impressive track record of leadership roles in the university sector.

“UCD operates in a competitive international arena and his expertise and knowledge will help us to strengthen our national position while maintaining an active outward-looking focus.”

Prof Deeks was born in the UK in 1963 and at the age of six migrated with his family to Perth, Western Australia. He is a graduate of civil engineering from the University of Western Australia (UWA), and after several years working in both business and academia became a professor in 2004.

He moved to Durham in 2009 where he helped to develop the university’s “global presence strategy and extensive international partnerships, particularly in China and Brazil”, the UCD governing authority noted.

The authority also highlighted the fact that Durham University is a top 100 university in both the Times Higher Education 2012 world university rankings and in the QS rankings. The Complete University Guide 2012 ranked Durham in fifth place out of 116 UK higher education institutions.

Prof Deeks said he was looking forward to taking up the new post. “UCD plays a unique role in Irish society and economy, and, under the stewardship of Dr Hugh Brady, has made impressive inroads into becoming a truly international university,” he said in a statement.

“I will bring ideas and approaches learnt from my experiences in the UK and Australia and blend these with the undoubted ambition and energy I see among the high calibre people at UCD to ensure UCD is recognised throughout Ireland and the world as an international and intercultural place of learning and scholarship of the highest standard, benefiting local, national and global communities.”