Winter Conferrings 2005
Devere Hall, Áras na Mac Léinn, UCC, 14 Dec 2005
Professor Paul Giller, Registrar & Vice President for Academic Affairs, UCC (3.30pm)
Guests, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, and New Graduates or should I say Diplomats,
The conferring ceremonies at the University are one of the highlights of the year and are a celebration of achievement. May I, on behalf of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences and the University at large, welcome you to this celebration and congratulate all our new diplomats on successful completion of what I hope were challenging and fulfilling courses.
Recognising that each individual must be valued, I set out with the ambition to draft a short address that might have equal and profound meaning to graduates from such diverse disciplines as Archaeology, Health Economics, languages for post-primary teachers, Psychology and Social policy, a difficult job in which I have had no success.In such crisis situations, one often resorts to humour but finding a joke that would integrate all these disciplines is impossible.Yes, there are plenty jokes about psychologists, a few about teachers, and none at all about archaeologists!
It is fitting that this weeks graduation celebrations are being held as 2005 draws to a close, as this year has been a very positive one for both the city of Cork and for University College Cork.
·We celebrated Cork’s reign as capital of culture by hosting a number of cultural events on campus, both in the Lewis Glucksman Gallery and the Aula Maxima and through many activities across the sciences and arts.
·In the sporting arena, Cork won the All Ireland Senior Hurling title, the Women’s Camogie and Football titles, as well as the Soccer League, with UCC players taking a prominent part in the successes.
·Finally, UCC was nominated University of the Year for 2005/2006 by the Sunday Times. This is the second time in three years UCC has been recognised in this way and it is a great accolade to the staff and students of the University.
However, we cannot stand on our laurels and must continue to develop and improve the quality of everything we do if we are to retain our position and provide our students with the best education we can.
The face of the UCC campus is changing and a number of you may have been witness to the formal opening of the fabulous Brookfield Health Science Complex, by An Tánaiste Mary Harney in late November. The new Pharmacy building is nearing completion and the new Postgraduate Library extension is well underway. The long awaited IT building has finally been given the go ahead and will further enhance the teaching and research facilities at UCC.
In order to further consolidate its position as a leading European University, UCC is also undergoing a major internal restructuring. An essential part of this, is the reorganisation of the existing seven-faculty structure into four Colleges, to focus the university’s research and teaching efforts.
The colleges are:
·Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences
·Business and Law
·Science, Engineering and Food Science
·Medicine and Health
The restructuring will lead to many further developments in the future, where closer collaboration between disciplines within and between the Colleges will foster new and exciting interdisciplinary programmes.
What is also encouraging for us is that the Universities were singled out for special mention in the Budget speech by Minister Cowen.In his speech, there was formal recognition of the influential and pivotal role played by the Universities in the development of Irish society and the economy and the clear identification of considerable additional funding for the Universities over the next 5 years.This was further elaborated in a speech at the weekend by the Minister for Education. This funding has rightly been warmly welcomed by the University sector, as it will give us the opportunity to develop our third level sector into a strong, vibrant and internationally competitive fourth level sector, driving research and producing postgraduates at the forefront of their chosen disciplines.
The changing face of the campus and the modernisation of our structures are vital for the future success of UCC within this evolving university system.
UCC itself is playing an increasingly influential role in the development of Irish society at all levels: academic, cultural, social, economic, political, professional and sporting.Our task is to provide our graduates with an excellent education equipping them with the intellectual rigour and critical thinking skills needed in today’s knowledge society.Both the Government and OECD see postgraduates and wider access as the keys to the future of the country, and I have no doubt that you, as new graduates, will be well positioned to play your part in this future
The university is currently home to some 15,000 students from over 75 countries worldwide. One hundred and sixty years after its foundation, University College Cork remains committed to the pursuit of academic excellence and scholarship.This excellence and quality is largely down to my colleagues seated here on the stage who have been your teachers, guides and mentors during your academic journey that has led you here today. I think it would be very appropriate for you to show your appreciation of them and all their hard work and dedication.
What our graduates have achieved would not, of course, have been possible without the support of their parents and families, friends and partners many of whom are here today; they have made sacrifices, shared anxieties, felt the stresses and provided encouragement and support. Please show them your appreciation as a small thank you for all they have done.
Graduates, you have now entered another exciting phase of your life. It may involve a further period of study along the road of life long learning, even here at UCC in other postgraduate programmes.It might be out in the world of work. What is clear is that graduates at this time in the 21st century are in great demand. You are the drivers of the knowledge-based economy on which this country is so dependant and your future and the future success of Ireland are so closely intertwined.
Graduation marks the end of a journey. For you, the graduates, the journey may sometimes have seemed like a long and difficult one.But, as you reflect on your time in UCC, on the friends you have made and on your academic achievement, I’m sure that you’ll agree that it was well worth it.
Finally, as you leave UCC, don’t forget us, your Alma Mater. We like to keep in touch with our graduates and have strong alumni associations all over the world. So do think of us every now and then.
With that I leave you with my best wishes for success in your future careers and hope that you enjoy the rest of this special day.