The president of University College Dublin, Andrew Deeks, has apologised to assistant professor Aoibhinn Ni Shúilleabháin and has pledged a major shake-up of how bullying and harassment is dealt with on the campus after she publicly described her ordeal at the college.
Dr Ni Shúilleabháin, a broadcaster and lecturer, spoke about her two-year ordeal of sexual harassment at UCD in an interview with The Irish Times in which she detailed a number of disturbing interactions between herself and a male professor between 2015 and 2017.
The professor was subsequently charged with harassment and barred from contacting Dr Ní Shúilleabháin for five years.
He no longer works at the college.
In a statement released to the Sunday Independent last night, Mr Deeks said he was "greatly saddened" by Dr Ní Shúilleabháin's experience and said: "I apologise to Aoibhinn on behalf of UCD."
He added: "I also apologise to other colleagues and students who have suffered such experiences while in our care."
Mr Deeks said he is now undertaking "a core procedural shift" which means the university will have the authority to instigate an investigation without ever receiving a formal complaint going forward.
Currently the university can only investigate when there is a formal complaint made.
Other measures Mr Deeks is proposing include "clarifying" the relationship between informal and formal internal complaints and complaints to An Garda Síochána.
The university will also introduce bystander intervention training, which will form a key part of orientation for all new undergraduate students later this month.
Mr Deeks said: "The university is committed to learning from the experience both of staff and students."
He said it is his wish to make the university "a safe, respectful and inclusive place for all".
Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said there must be zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence and harassment in all third level institutions.
Mr Harris said he had met with Dr Ní Shúilleabháin and she has his complete and utter respect and gratitude for what she has done by speaking out publicly.
"She shouldn't have had to endure what she endured. And we need to make sure it never happens again," said the minister in a live stream on Twitter.
He acknowledged that sexual harassment is not a problem confined to third level colleges, but that he wants the sector to lead the way by adopting a "zero-tolerance approach".
"So let me be clear. If there are any old dinosaurs out there in the system, your day is gone. Third level, the higher education sector, the further education sector, is to be an environment of respect, inclusion, tolerance and safety."
Mr Harris stated he has written to the president of every university and higher education institution in Ireland asking them to produce an action plan on tackling sexual violence and harassment at their institutions.
He said he intends to give more powers to the Higher Education Authority to strengthen their role in overseeing the implementation of the frameworks in each institution, to make consent classes available to everyone, as well as a public awareness campaign.
Dr Ní Shúilleabháin told The Irish Times that, as a result of the harassment by the professor, she had been frightened of being alone on campus and unnerved almost to the point of abandoning her successful academic career.
She said she decided to speak out about her experience in order to draw attention to the harassment of female university academics and students on university campuses in Ireland.
She said it is vital that victims of harassment are encouraged to report their experiences.
The incidents she experienced included the professor turning up to her office in an agitated state, repeatedly asking her out on dates, phoning her persistently and sending her unsolicited emails.