Trinity College Dublin (TCD) will appoint a woman as Provost, for the first time in its 429-year history.
The university, which was established in 1592, has confirmed that the shortlist of applicants to replace Professor Patrick Prendergast are all female.
They are all senior academics at Trinity: Linda Hogan, Professor of Ecumenics and former Vice-Provost, Linda Doyle, Professor of Engineering and the Arts and former Dean of Research, and historian Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, who was Trinity’s first Vice-President for Global Relations.
Prof Ohlmeyer was the only female candidate when Professor Prendergast was elected Provost in 2011.
While technically not the first woman to lead one of Ireland’s traditional universities, the new Trinity Provost will be the first female appointed to the top role in the sector on a permanent basis. It is a 10-year term.
Last year, the University of Limerick (UL) appointed Professor Kerstin Mey as Interim President, after an open competition, when Dr Des Fitzgerald announced his early retirement
UL is now embarking on a recruitment process for its next President, which is expected to take 12-18 months.
Meanwhile, the search is also on for a successor to Professor Philip Nolan, who steps down as President of Maynooth University in mid-August.
Professor Nolan has become a household name over the past year in his role as chair of the Nphet Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, which is charged with predicting the course of Covid-19.
Last month Professor Maggie Cusack took on the job of President of the new Munster Technological University (MTU).
The selection of the Provost differs from the appointment process for president in other higher education institutions.
The position was advertised internationally in 2020 and there are three stages to the process, with the final stage kicking off from today.
It allows academic staff , members of the College Board and its University Council to vote on their choice. The election will take place on Saturday April 10 and the new Provost will take up office on August 1.
Interviews took place in January after which each successful candidate proceeded to the second stage and was asked to seek 12 nominations from the electorate.
The gender balance across all senior roles in Irish academia has been the subject of criticism.
A report to former Junior Minister for higher Mary Mitchell O’Connor in 2018 found that while women made up half of staff at third level, they held only a quarter of the professor jobs
At the time, no woman had ever held the position of university president, and only two had been appointed to lead an institute of technology.
In a bid to redress the gender imbalance, Ms Mitchell O’Connor announced an initiative opening 45 women-only senior academic posts.