With a salary of almost €200,000 a year and the best address in Dublin, at No 1 Grafton Street, the job of Provost of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is a coveted position - and for the first time since it was established in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, the job will go to a woman this year.
The declared contenders for the top job at Ireland's most internationally prestigious educational establishment, which will be decided by an academic election on Saturday, April 10 next, are all senior staff with international reputations. Already canvassing for the top job are Linda Doyle, dean of research, Linda Hogan, a former vice-provost, and historian Jane Ohlmeyer, who was the only female candidate in 2011 when Patrick Prendergast was elected Provost.
The Provost resides in the Provost's House on Grafton Street, but within the walls of the college. Dating back to the 1760s, the three-storey residence contains a private apartment as well as a range of drawing rooms and salons for entertaining guests.
As well as the prestige involved, the job of Provost is one of the most onerous in Irish education and entails managing one of the oldest universities in the world, its academic staff and extensive administration, and budgets which include a €190 million endowment fund.
Coupled with that, TCD attracts students and visitors from all over the world and gained international attention and publicity from the recent showing of Normal People, starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, large segments of which were filmed on the centre-city Dublin campus.
The election of a new Provost has been described in the past as akin to electing a Pope. Each candidate must be nominated by 12 electors before going forward for approval by interview. In 2011, 694 full-time academic staff were eligible to vote; contract staff are ineligible.
The winner then has to be ratified by the board of the college and takes up their 10-year term as Provost on August 1, 2021.
It is believed the interviews concluded last week and the three declared candidates are already on the election trail. The official announcement of the candidates for the job of Provost will not be announced until February.
Linda Doyle is Professor of Engineering and the Arts (Computer Science) and an expert in wireless communication who has raised over €70 million in research funding for the college. Linda Hogan is Professor of Ecumenics at the School of Religion. Originally from Kilkenny, she has held the prestigious vice-provost position and is among the foremost theologians in the world. Jane Ohlmeyer, who grew up in Belfast, is Professor of Modern History and chair of the Irish Research Council and has held academic positions in Edinburgh and Yale.
All three candidates are international distinguished academics and authors.
After the election, three of the top jobs in the nine Irish universities will be held by women. Kerstin Mey is Interim President of the University of Limerick and Maggie Cusack is the first President of the Munster Technological University, which has campuses in Cork and Kerry.