University College Cork appoints Prof John O’Halloran as president

Ornithologist looking forward to leading UCC ‘through next phase of transformation’

University College Cork (UCC) has confirmed the appointment of Prof John O'Halloran as the new president of the university in succession to Prof Patrick O'Shea who stepped down last year for personal reasons.

Interim president since Prof O’Shea’s stepping down in July 2020, Prof O’Halloran (59) previously served as deputy president and registrar while he was also vice-president for teaching and learning and vice-head of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science.

UCC Governing Body chairwoman, Dr Catherine Day, welcomed Prof O'Halloran's appointment, noting he had led UCC's first Academic Strategy to reimagine the curriculum and transform assessment, while he had also demonstrated a strong commitment to developing an inclusive culture at UCC.

“After a rigorous international search, I am delighted Prof John O’Halloran has been selected as the new president of UCC. He has a very distinguished academic record, great experience of leading transformative change across the university and a strong commitment to sustainability, inclusion and diversity,” she said.


“He will help shape the next decade of UCC’s development, delivering a first-class and holistic experience for students and staff, and ensuring that UCC makes a strong contribution to regional and national development as a centre of learning and research excellence.”


Prof O’Halloran, an ornithologist who received his PhD in 1987 and holds the chair in zoology at UCC, said he was deeply honoured to become the 16th president of UCC and said he looked forward to overseeing the next phase of the university’s development.

“I am very honoured to take up the role of president of this great institution at this time. This university has seen many challenging times and in the last 18 months we have demonstrated strong resilience and determination to deliver on our research and education mission and on societal impact.

“My ambition is to lead our UCC team through the next phase of transformation to secure the future for our university and make our planet a better place through further ambitious research, high-quality education and student experience, and first-class staff support.”

Prof O'Halloran is a past pupil of Douglas Community School. He was awarded a doctorate of science by the National University of Ireland for his published works in 2009 and he previously held academic posts at Colby College in Maine in the United States and the University of Wales in Cardiff.

Prof O’Halloran has authored a significant body of international research papers and several book chapters which focus on the ecological impacts of land-use change and climate change on our community, and he has supervised 75 PhD and research Master’s students to completion.

Prof O'Halloran was vice-president of the British Trust for Ornithology and a former executive board member of BirdWatch Ireland. He is also chairman of the board of Fota Wildlife Park and has served as chairman of the biology and ecology panel of the BT Young Scientist for more than two decades.

A native of Douglas in Cork city, Prof O'Halloran is married to UCC medical graduate and director of the National Cancer Registry, Prof Deirdre Murray, and the couple have three children, David, Andrew and Ailish.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times