Trinity College Dublin names Linda Doyle as first woman provost in 429 years

Simon Harris congratulates new Provost – ‘a glass ceiling has been shattered’

Prof Linda Doyle

Prof Linda Doyle

 

Trinity College Dublin has elected Professor Linda Doyle as the first female provost to lead the university in its 429-year history.

She will be the 45th Provost of the University and take over from the current Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast, on August 1st this year.

The announcement was made on Saturday afternoon after a short delay.

Prof Doyle said she was “exhilarated to take on this role and to be part of this historic development in Trinity’s history.

“Trinity is an extraordinary institution filled with exceptionally talented staff and students but I believe we can set our ambitions for it even higher.

“I want Trinity to be the most open, productive, and creative place to teach, learn and to do research. I want Trinity to be a public university that is fearless in its pursuit of a deep-rooted fairness.”

Prof Doyle is Professor of Engineering and the Arts at Trinity and became the Provost-elect on Saturday after an election involving staff and student representatives.

The Provostship has a term of 10 years, during which she will be responsible for leading the University in achieving its core mission in education, research and innovation.

Prof Doyle studied electrical engineering at University College Cork and went on to complete a Master’s and PhD in Trinity.

Prof Doyle also was a founding director of Connect, a Science Foundation Ireland national research centre for future networks and communications.

She has held a number of senior roles including dean of research at Trinity and chairs a number of boards including the Douglas Hyde Gallery.

Diverse opinions

Prof Doyle is from Togher in Cork City. Her father Oliver worked as a compositor for the Examiner group for more than 35 years.

She thanked her partner Simon Tonge, her brothers Kieran and Colm and sister Martina for their support. “I really wouldn’t be who I am without any of them,” she said.

She described herself as “utterly delighted and excited” about being the first woman in the role.

“I saw somebody say earlier that I was making history. Trinity has an amazing past, but it is also a very forward-looking place. Being the first woman means taking the best from the past and looking forward in a new direction,” she said.

“I look forward to the day when people do not comment one way or another on that.

“When you are standing in the middle of this university, that’s so old, you are pinching yourself. We benefit hugely from diversity. Diverse opinions lead to the most informed decisions.”

She has been lecturing in the university since the mid-1990s.

She said her first priority will be to get the university fully opened again when that possibility arises.

“Our students have had a very tough time in the last two academic years. An immediate challenge is for us to get out the other end of the Covid-19 pandemic and get back here.

“We need to focus on greater investment in the sector. I really believe in public universities and it’s important for the country that we have strong independent institutions.

“I want to focus on education and research to ensure that our students have the very best place to learn.”

Prof Doyle said she supports plans by the university to examine its imperialist past as part of the legacy of slavery.

“If educational institutions can’t actually use their talents which is digging deep into research and examining the past, it would be a pity. There is some great research projects ongoing about that at the moment.”

She looked forward to a “constructively critical” relationship with Government.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris congratulated Prof Doyle on her election as Provost.

In a statement, Mr Harris said “I want to congratulate Prof Doyle on her election as Provost of Trinity College Dublin. She will become the first female president in the college’s 429-year history. Another glass ceiling has been shattered.

“Professor Doyle will become Provost at a time of great change and huge opportunity for the sector and I look forward to working with her in the years ahead.

“There have been improvements in addressing the gender imbalance in higher education in recent years but there remains a significant level of under-representation of female staff at the highest decision-making levels in Irish universities (26 per cent).

“Today is a historic day and a major milestone. I hope it sends a strong message to everyone involved in the higher education sector and beyond – a message of inclusion, equality and opportunity for all.”

Prof Doyle replaces Dr Patrick Prendergast, who ends his 10-year term on July 31st.

He said: “I’m delighted that there was not one but three excellent candidates for the position of Provost of Trinity and I congratulate Professor Linda Doyle on her successful campaign.

“Trinity will now have its first woman Provost and on behalf of staff, students, and alumni I wish Linda the very best in leading the college at this crucial time in its history.”

Prof Doyle was chosen from the all-female shortlist of three senior academics the others being Prof Linda Hogan, a theologian and former vice-provost; and Prof Jane Ohlmeyer, a high-profile historian.

About 860 full-time academic staff are eligible to vote in the election which took place online this year.

In normal times, the electorate gathers in Trinity’s dining hall to elect the new provost in a conclave; this year, voting will take place online.

Prof Doyle will reside in one of the most prestigious addresses in Dublin – No 1 Grafton Street – with an impressive art collection including works by Jack B Yeats. The 10-year position will be accompanied by a €200,000 salary.

Trinity’s next provost will be the latest in a series of women who have been appointed to lead Irish universities.

Prof Kerstin Mey, interim president of the University of Limerick, became the first woman to head up an Irish university when she was appointed last year. Last month Maynooth University announced the appointment of Prof Eeva Leinonen as its next president.