Thursday 18 January 2018

Waterford Institute of Technology appoints new president amid efforts to set up university

Waterford Institute of Technology
Waterford Institute of Technology
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Professor Willie Donnelly has been appointed president of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) amid efforts to get the process of setting up a university of the south east back on track.

He replaces Dr Ruaidhri Neavyn, who has been seconded to the Higher Education Authority (HEA), one of two high profile departures from WIT since the governing authority withdrew from merger talks with IT Carlow.

Prof Donnelly has been Vice President for Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies at WIT as well as Director and founder of the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG), an internationally-renowned mobile services and communications management research centre.

TSSG  has grown from three to 130 researchers, winning over €80m in competitive funding and, beyond that, Prof Donnelly is credited with helping to create a mobile services software cluster in the south east.

WIT caused consternation in Government circles last autumn when it pulled out of the merger discussions with IT Carlow.

A link-up between WIT and IT Carlow is being encouraged by Government as part of plans for new-style technological universities, formed through mergers of institutes of technology.

WIT ended the talks following a consultant’s report that raised questions about how long it would take IT Carlow to meet the criteria necessary for technological university status. Waterford would prefer to apply for designation as a university on its own.

The move was greeted with shock within Government, which is committed to a multi-campus university of the south east. It is being strongly pushed by Co Wexford-based Public Expenditure Minister, Brendan Howlin.

Former chairman, Donie Ormonde stepped down after a meeting with Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan, who then appointed former secretary of the Department  of Health, Michael Kelly to “reinvigorate“ the merger process.

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