UCD appoints Prof Orla Feely as new president

Seven of Ireland’s 13 universities are now led by women

University College Dublin has appointed Orla Feely, a professor of electronic engineering, as its new president.

Prof Feely becomes the 10th president of UCD and succeeds Prof Mark Rogers who has been acting president since March 2022. She will take up office on May 1st, 2023.

Prof Feely has served as vice-president for research, innovation and impact at UCD and played a key role in boosting research capacity at the university.

Her appointment marks another milestone for senior women academics in Ireland’s traditionally male-dominated higher education leadership


Three years ago there had been no female university president in 430 years of higher education in Ireland.

Her appointment means seven of Ireland’s 13 universities are now led by women.

Prof Feely, whose father – former Dublin Corporation city manager Frank Feely – died this week aged 91, achieved her undergraduate degree in electronic engineering at UCD in the mid-1980s before going to attend the University of California, Berkeley in California, where she completed her masters and PhD.

While there she won awards for outstanding and innovative research, which is the area of non-linear circuits and systems.

She has since been awarded research grants and prizes from a number of national, international and industry sources.

Prof Feely returned to Ireland to work as a lecturer in UCD’s engineering department in the 1990s and became the first Irish woman elected as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

She is a member of the Royal Irish Academy as well as a fellow of Engineers Ireland and has played a key role in fostering interest among schoolchildren in science as director of the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Prof Feely is also member of the Board of the Higher Education Authority.

Speaking following he appointment, she said: “I am greatly honoured to be UCD’s next president and to lead the university into the next phase of its remarkable development.”

She said her own studies in UCD, starting at the age of 16, “transformed her life, and I witness the university’s continuing transformative impact every day”.

“I want to lead a UCD that makes a clear positive difference to the lives of our students through the educational experience we deliver. I want to grow our impact in Ireland and in the wider world through our work in areas such as sustainability, health and secure societies.”

She thanked Prof Mark Rogers for his leadership of UCD and said she was very grateful to have his continuing support during the transition to taking up office on May 1st.

Chair of the UCD’s governing authority, Marie O’Connor, said Prof Feely is an “outstanding university leader” with a distinguished academic track record in research and teaching.

“Prof Orla Feely is an exceptional person who has the drive and ambition to lead UCD as a public university that values its community, that sets standards and embraces wider participation in order to make a real impact on society,” she said.

“I have every confidence that under Orla’s leadership, UCD will continue to fulfil its ambitious role in Ireland and globally and play its part in tackling global challenges.”

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent