Trinity fellows block attempt to open up Provost ballot
Published 20/04/2010 | 05:00
EVEN after more than 400 years, it was a revolution too far at the Irish university set up by Queen Elizabeth I.
The academic elite at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) have blocked a rule change that would loosen their 418-year grip on who gets the university's top job.
A move to give students and administrative staff a say in the selection of the TCD provost has been rejected by the university fellows.
A fellowship is the highest honour bestowed by Trinity on its academic staff.
At any one time there are about 250 fellows out of an academic staff of about 800.
From Trinity's foundation in 1592, until 1974, the task of selecting a new provost lay exclusively with the fellows.
In 1974, the system changed to an election, which was opened up to other academic staff who met certain criteria.
Four provosts have been elected since then, including the present incumbent, Dr John Hegarty, whose 10-year term of office ends next year.
Plans for Dr Hegarty's replacement coincided with a general review of the TCD statutes, the first since 1966.
The review proposed widening the electorate to other staff, on a weighted basis, as well as giving students a greater say.
But the fellows have thrown out the plan to open up balloting to categories of staff other than academics. They expressed the view that the existing election process was a trusted method.
TCD Students Union president Conan O'Broin said they were "very disappointed" the fellows didn't assent to proposals to increase significantly the voting power of students and non-academic staff.