It speaks volumes about Irish universities that it's only in 2020 that they appointed their first female president - on an interim basis.
Congratulations to Prof Kerstin Mey who must have been bemused when her appointment in the University of Limerick became a major news item. Assigning a similar post to a woman would not have attracted the same level of public interest in her native Germany, or in most other developed countries.
It's not that our universities don't believe in gender equality but they have been slow in promoting women to the top academic posts. This prompted the previous minister for higher education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, to create women-only professorships.
Her successor Simon Harris yesterday pledged to continue the roll-out of these professorships and welcomed what he called the "historic appointment" of Prof Mey. He will be working with her and the presidents of other institutions to plan the reopening of higher education in the autumn.
At this stage it is clear that not all students will be back full-time but will have a mixture of online and on-site lectures and practicals for the foreseeable future.
Reopening is just one of the many challenges Mr Harris faces in the new Department of Further and Higher Education, Innovation, Research and Science. The inclusion of "further education" is significant and signals a shift to a more integrated tertiary system for post-secondary students.
A more diverse range of models of learning is needed to prepare young people for a very different work environment. Given that they are most at risk in terms of losing jobs, it's not surprising they will be a key focus in the forthcoming July Jobs Initiative.
It's clear from the Programme for Government (PfG) there will be a lot more emphasis on further education and, in particular, on apprenticeships. The target is 10,000 new apprentice registrations a year by 2025.
The PfG also commits to a Citizens Assembly for Education in which young people and other learners will have a leading voice.
Similar debates are happening elsewhere. When he became UK prime minister in 1997, Tony Blair said he had three priorities - "education, education, education" - setting a target of 50pc of teenagers going to university.
That has been torn up by the Johnson administration, whose Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says too many go to university. The mantra must now be "further education, further education, further education".
In Ireland, well over 60pc of Leaving Cert students go on to higher education, which raises questions about our obsession with university degrees. We're not ready to adapt the new UK mantra, but it is time the further education sector had its day.