Battle begins at DCU and TCD


TEACHER’S PET:Contenders for two of the biggest jobs in higher education – President of DCU and Provost of TCD – are already jockeying for position.

The high-profile DCU president, Prof Ferdinand von Prondzynski, vacates his northside dacha next summer. And low-profile TCD Provost Prof John Hegarty (right) will vacate one of the State’s most exclusive addresses – 1, Grafton St – in 2011.

Who’s in the running? At DCU, the contenders are expected to include UCD Vice President Philip Nolan, Colm Kearney of TCD, at least one member of von Prondzynski’s kitchen cabinet and a senior Irish academic currently in London.

The post is also expected to attract applications from two candidates who were on the shortlist for UL president last year – Brigid Laffan of UCD and Brian Norton, current president of DIT.

* WHAT'S THE story at TCD? Everything may depend on whether the college has the traditional election among academics or whether there will be a more modern search and selection process. Discussions on this issue are already concentrating minds at Trinity.

At this stage, Vice Provost Patrick Prendergast is the clear favourite for the post. Prendergasts reputation has been enhanced by the recent TCD-UCD research merger in which he played such a key role. At this early stage, he is the man to beat.

But TCD academics say Ferdinand von Prondzynski would be a strong candidate, if he declares an interest.

There is no guarantee, of course, the position will remain “at home’’. With Trinity now among the elite top 50 universities in the world, the post will attract a raft of external candidates, if there is an international search and selection process.

* THEY WERE at it again last week – those primary schools. Not content with a two-week Easter break – preceded by a half-day on the Friday before it – some primary schools closed at noon when they re opened last Monday.

The result? Major inconvenience to parents. What are boards of management doing about this scandal? And does anyone in the Department of Education care?