Only second woman in over 400 years for top post at Irish university

Maggie Cusack ‘looking forward’ to working with Munster Technological University colleagues

Prof Maggie Cusack said she is ‘thrilled’ with her appointment.

Prof Maggie Cusack said she is ‘thrilled’ with her appointment.


A professor is to become only the second woman in more than four centuries appointed as president of an Irish university.

Prof Maggie Cusack takes on the top role at Munster Technological University (MTU), which opens in January.

She is at present Dean of Natural Sciences at the University of Sterling and said she is “thrilled” with her appointment.

“I look forward to working with my MTU colleagues at this exciting and profoundly important time for staff, students, and all stakeholders to maximise the opportunities of a technological university to bring educational, economic and social benefit to the region for generations to come,” she said.

Earlier this year Prof Kerstin Mey shattered a 428-year tradition of men only running Irish universities when she was appointed president of the University of Limerick.

Announcing the newest appointment, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said Prof Cusack, who was selected from 60 candidates for the job, will help drive higher education and regional development in the southwest.

MTU, the first technical university outside Dublin, will be formed from the dissolution of Cork Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Tralee.

It will officially come into being on January 1st, 2021.

President Higgins urges care

Meanwhile, President Michael D Higgins has urged third-level students – particularly those in their first year coming to the end of their first term – to look after themselves during the pandemic.

In a specially recorded message, he said the transition to third level takes time, which has been made even more difficult this year by the outbreak of coronavirus and students should “encourage and watch out for each other”.

“I hope, too, that the efforts weak or strong that you have been making and will continue to make means that beyond Covid-19 you will have an educational and social experience all the richer in the future,” he added.

Mr Higgins said although technology can help students, it cannot “ever fully replicate the experience of the first year at third level that you may have anticipated”.

“I am very well aware, too, as President, that such technological capacities are not available to all for a multitude of reasons,” he added, urging third-level colleges to do their best to address these issues.

Mr Higgins also praised staff and management at universities and colleges who “have gone above and beyond the call of duty this year to change how we teach and how they support our students”.

“It has been a momentous transition at very short notice, only made possible by the extraordinary effort, commitment, goodwill, know-how, creativity and co-operation of all staff,” he said.