Conferring ceremonies concluded today (16 September 2005) at University College Cork with 345 undergraduate and postgraduate students conferred from the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Food Science & Technology and Medicine & Health.
The Conferring address was given by the Lord Mayor, Deirdre Clune.
Address by The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Clune
President Wrixon, Registrar Paul Giller, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, parents and lastly, but not least, the reason we are here today, GRADUATES, thank you for the honour of letting me address you all on this special day, the day of the conferring of your engineering degrees.
Firstly let us examine two of the words of that last sentence. I am now addressing those of you on whom degrees will be conferred today specifically. You are now Graduates, you have attained that which you set out to do not only at the beginning of your course here at UCC but further back in preparing for your Leaving Cert which gained you entry to the faculty and perhaps further back when you abandoned hope of being a superhero and chose your Leaving Cert subject options to enable you to enter this particular profession . You may feel that by arriving at this day you have achieved your objective but believe me, you are now merely on the first step on what will be, if luck is with you, a rewarding , fulfilling and enjoyable career.
You are now no longer students or undergraduates, you are ENGINEERS, and so the expectation of you to apply the knowledge you have acquired in whatever engineering discipline you chose starts NOW. Much has been made in recent years of the so called "Tiger Economy" and how graduates of the recent past and those graduating today are entering into a workplace infinitely more accommodating than previous decades, with starting salaries those who graduated in the 80s and 90s could only have dreamt of . Some of that is true. I could bombard you with statistics on GDP, GNP etc. but I don't see the point in doing that today. Those figures are in the public domain but are only relevant in how they have, can, and will affect the lives of those of you in the room here today.
There is no doubt that Ireland has, over the past 10 or more years, seen a period of uninterrupted growth with year on year growth consistently above the Eurozone average. We have seen the arrival and expansion of some of the world's leading companies and also seen infra-structural growth on a scale unmatched since the foundation of the state.
There is also a counter argument, one that states that while we have become materially more wealthy, we have, in the process, become disconnected from our social, spiritual and cultural identity. There has never been such a large disparity between the price of an average house and the ability of people, even on attractive salaries to afford them. Even in Provincial towns and cities, the commute times to and from our places of work is growing longer and longer. This commute includes, almost invariably for those families who have young children and need both parents to work to afford the mortgage, dropping children to childcare for longer periods of time than many of us spend in work. We have become cash rich and time poor and there is, despite protestations from many sides, no easy solution or magic bullet.
As I say this I can see the heads of parents nod in agreement and the graduates faces glaze over. I raise these points with good reason. As engineers it is in your hands to help to design develop and create solutions to achieve the work life balance that will be necessary in future generations . You have the ability to be the architects of this better futre, but nobody said it was going to be easy. It is said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. So those of you being conferred today, take time to listen to those who tell you what Cork was like 20 or more years ago. It may be history to you but it was very much current affairs to a large percentage of the audience here today, many of whom tried to raise you and your College comrades in difficult circumstances.
University College Cork can be justifiably proud of its role in changing with the times and has an enviable and unrivalled record in attracting research grants to the university that will, in time, hopefully lead to the types of advances in Science and Engineering to make the dreams of today the reality of tomorrow, . Successive governments have, through organisations such as Science Foundation Ireland, attracted world leading minds and projects to UCC and other Irish Universities. Along the way there have been such hiccups as the Digital Hubs but the history of Science and Engineering has had such in the past and will again in the future.. such is the nature of science.
Sean Dorgan of the IDA has stated time and again that the future of a successful Irish economy is in moving up the value chain. Today you are at the top of the food chain in university standards.. you are graduates. But in the work environment, the challenge to prove yourself begins tomorrow and the challenge to make a difference will be with you the rest of your working lives. I mentioned earlier that today's graduates are in an enviable position in graduating into a vibrant economy. This is true, but you are also graduating into a world that is more unpredictable, unsure and frightening than ever before. The curse of Confucius, it is said, was "May you live in interesting times". There has seldom been a more interesting time than right now !!!
In conclusion I would like, on behalf of those of you graduating today, give thanks to a number of people or , more properly, groups of people. Firstly, and most importantly perhaps, I would like to thank, on your behalf, your parents, without whom today's event would not have been possible. It is as much their day as yours in that while you did all the hard work, the team behind you was instrumental in keeping the project on track. I would also like to thank and congratulate the staff of UCC , both Academic and Support staff without whom this day might not have been possible . I include in this the careers service, the spiritual advisors and all those who helped in an Holistic way to make this day possible.
I wish you all the best future you can wish for yourselves and congratulate you all on you achievements. Do yourselves proud by making Ireland not just a successful economy but a vibrant SOCIETY also
Now go out there and make yourselves, your families and your City proud of you.
Carpe Diem--- Seize the DAY
Go raibh maith agaibh
The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Clune.
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