Belfast man appointed president of UL

 

There was a surprise in education circles in Limerick last evening when the governing authority of the University of Limerick appointed Prof Roger Downer (55) to succeed Dr Edward Walsh, who is retiring as president in August.

Prof Downer, who was born in Belfast where he obtained degrees of B.Sc and M.Sc, moved to Canada where he completed a doctorate at the University of Western Ontario. Since 1996 he has been president of the Asian Institute of Technology, an international postgraduate university in Thailand.

Most of Dr Downer's academic career has, however, been spent at the University of Waterloo in Canada, where he was noted as a teacher, researcher and administrator.

His research efforts have resulted in many national and international recognitions, including the F.J.R. Fry gold medal and being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has served as chairman of the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada grant selection committee in food and agriculture and in animal biology.

He has also served on the US National Science Foundation's regulatory biology panel. He has been chairman of the department of biology and acting Dean of Science at the University of Waterloo, where from 1989-96 he was vice-president of university relations.

The new UL president is married with three children. His outside interests are stated to be "reading, theatre, music, walking and all sports, particularly rugby and golf".

Dr Miriam Hederman O'Brien, chancellor of the University of Limerick, said she was pleased at the announcement of the governing authority, which was unanimously adopted on the recommendation of the presidential selection board.