AIB chairman gives £3.5m to UCD for new facility

 

The businessman Mr Lochlann Quinn has made a personal donation of £3.5 million to University College Dublin. The college said last night it would use the money for a new undergraduate business school; Mr Quinn, a former UCD commerce student, said he hoped the college would now check his old exam papers.

Mr Quinn is the chairman of Allied Irish Banks and the deputy chairman of Glen Dimplex, a private company which he partly owns. He has investments in other businesses, including the new Merrion Hotel in Dublin.

UCD said last night it was delighted with the donation, one of the largest to an Irish university. The cash will go towards a purpose-built undergraduate school, located on the Belfield campus.

The college plans to raise a matching amount in "a pound-for-pound challenge" to graduates and the business community.

"You just have to think of the word e-commerce to realise how fast things are changing in business," said Dr Tony Scott, UCD's director of public affairs.

"The new building will provide a technologically-driven teaching and research environment, consistent with the needs of the next generation of business leaders."

Asked why he had given such a large amount, Mr Quinn, a commerce graduate, quipped: "I'm just trying to get my old exam results corrected."

But he added: "I just don't think you can put too high a price on the value that education has done for changing this country."

"Therefore, those of us who have done well out of this economy and various other things, it seems to me that there's probably no better place one could put it back than into expanding educational opportunities for the next generation."

Mr Quinn, whose brother Ruairi is leader of the Labour Party and a former Minister for Finance, said all of his family had been educated to third level, mostly at UCD. His four children had either attended or were still studying at the college, he added.

He said there was a move in Ireland towards the US system of private or corporate donations to third level institutions.

"At the end of the day the bulk of the bill will always have to be paid for by the state. But there's something to be said for the ethos that says that those who have been through college and been advantaged by it, if they have the opportunity to give something back, it's not a bad idea."

Asked how he could be sure the Government would not see such a donation merely as an opportunity to allocate less funding to the college, Mr Quinn said: "I don't really think that in the real world you can. Fundamentally there is a basic requirement on the State, but at the end of the day it's probably unrealistic to say that it can carry 100 per cent of the burden."