Universities need to be creative to survive, says new UCC president

Prof Patrick O’Shea pledges to put UCC among the world’s great universities

“A strong economy is necessary for strong universities, and strong universities are necessary for strong economies,” said Prof Patrick O’Shea, the new president of University College Cork. Photograph: iStockphoto

“A strong economy is necessary for strong universities, and strong universities are necessary for strong economies,” said Prof Patrick O’Shea, the new president of University College Cork. Photograph: iStockphoto

 

Irish universities must find new ways of generating revenue to sustain themselves in the future, the new president of University College Cork, Prof Patrick O’Shea, has said.

Prof O’Shea, a Cork native and UCC graduate, pledged on Wednesday after taking up the role that UCC, on his watch, “will continue its rise among the great universities of the world”.

Prof O’Shea said he believed it was in both Cork and Ireland’s interest to have a strong and properly funded university sector. He said that, in addition to their State funding, universities needed to develop creative and innovative funding streams so they can create a strong economy.

“As somebody once said, vision without resources quickly becomes hallucination, so we have to work collectively to get more resources to support our activities. It’s clear that a strong economy is necessary for strong universities, and strong universities are necessary for strong economies,” he told 96FM.

“I want UCC to create more value than it consumes. I want the people of Cork to understand 10 years from now that we have helped them create better lives for themselves and for their children. It’s just not about the jobs we are able to get but how we are able to better house and feed people.”

Career path

Prof O’Shea paid tribute to his predecessor Dr Michael Murphy as he recalled his own career path since graduation from UCC. He went to the University of Maryland in the US and obtained an MS and a PhD. He served as the university’s vice-president before returning to Cork.

“UCC’s students and staff have impressed me with their enthusiasm and commitment to excellence in education, scholarship, research and service,” he said.

Prof O’Shea is known for his work on electron accelerators and free-electron lasers, and has played a role in several large research initiatives and supervised the work of 24 doctoral graduates.

He said he had to develop into an “enthusiastic partnership-builder” in recent years and felt he was well positioned to develop close links with UCC’s alumni, and with all sectors of Irish society to “promote symbiotic partnerships and significant fundraising programmes”.

“These will secure the resources, the human and physical capital, that UCC needs to deliver on its mission and vision,” said Prof O’Shea, who is married to UCC graduate and scientist Dr Miriam Smyth.