Honorary Conferrings Speeches Archive
- 14 Nov 2021
at UCC Autumn Conferrings 2021
I have the pleasure of introducing Mr Pat Ledwidge as nominee for an honorary doctoral degree in Arts at today’s conferring. The award recognises the multiple contributions by Pat in the various roles he has held during his professional career and which have allowed him to input in various ways to our community at local, national and international level. That sense of multiple community has been a defining characteristic of his work throughout his career in local government with Cork City Council where he served for over 30 years, retiring in 2019 as Deputy Chief Executive. During that long career, his work saw him oversee various areas, such as in his role as Director of Services with respect to Strategic Planning and Economic Development; Director of the Cork Area Strategic Plan with a remit for Metropolitan Cork and Ring Towns; Chair of Cork Urban Enterprises and of the South Presentation Centre; Director of Services incorporating Community and Enterprises and the Docklands regeneration, Director of the Economic Development Office, and Senior Executive Planner, as well as contributing to the establishment of Energy Cork and the Cork Learning City initiative.
While the remit of such different roles is extensive, his work in each area has been characterised by a number of key defining hallmarks, not least his personal spirit of engagement in navigating change and coalition-building with different actors, be they other public bodies, business groups, education and communities within a quadruple helix approach as a means of building understanding and identifying mutual interests. That engagement has also been characterised by his very clear commitment to sustainable development in urban areas such as at an economic, social and environmental level, drawing on the universal values set out in the UN2030 Agenda for sustainable development in our global world.
Indeed, the concept of the ‘global’ has been omnipresent in Pat’s work – as many of you may know, Cork city is twinned with Shanghai in China giving rise to a long-standing fruitful partnership between our two cities – while very different in scale and population, geographically situated on two different continents, they are both coastal cities, second cities in their respective countries. Their initial twinning was subsequently followed by a number of other partnerships through Memoranda of Understanding between Cork and other Chinese cities, namely Hangzhou, Wuxi and Shenzhen. Pat has been instrumental in the development of such international relationships, with bilateral exchanges emerging on various levels and a clear focus on issues in the areas of education, health, recreation and public service provision, supporting cooperation between our cities and countries and contributing to Cork’s international relations plan. Such international cooperation is reflective of Pat’s firm belief in the importance of relationships that contribute to expanding horizons within a forward- and outward-looking perspective that benefits the city through opportunities for mutual understanding, intercultural awareness and exchange, giving rise to a range of activities through the years. His commitment to the development of such relations with China is further evidenced in his work with various groups and institutions, with the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, for example, the Advice and Discussion Group on Doing Business and Expanding into China, and serving as Senior Consultant to the Ireland Cork Chinese Business Association. Pat has also contributed as a Board Member of the UCC-Shanghai University Confucius Institute, underlining a critical importance he has assigned to the mutual partnership between the university and the city through various aspects of his work. Indeed, a particular focus of the partnership with Shanghai relates especially to education connections at primary, post-primary and tertiary level. The Confucius Institute is a particular case in point of exchanges and partnerships that aim to harness mobile talent such as in the case of the many Chinese teachers who have come to UCC to develop Chinese language learning among our own university students, but also among many primary and secondary school pupils in the wider Munster region who have benefited from such intercultural exchange, along with members of the wider public.
Overall, Pat’s work has been extensive and diverse, with various institutions calling on his experience and expertise. For example, he has served as President of the Irish Planning Institute, and continues to be a Board Member, and he was also a Member of the Board of Studies of the Masters in Sustainable Planning here at UCC, as well serving on other advisory committees of the university. He has, for example, been involved in our Ignite and Springboard projects, while he has also been very generous in hosting and mentoring our students during work experience programmes. Apart from his appointments to different institutions, he has contributed to numerous conferences and seminars. , delivering addresses such as most recently at the Responsive Cities congress held in Edinburgh. Such markers of esteem are further reflected in various national and international awards, such as Laureate of the Magnolia Silver Award in 2014, followed by the Magnolia Gold Award in 2018 from the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, in recognition of his support to Shanghai’s development and contribution to the cooperation between our cities. In 2020, the Wuxi Municipal People’s Government awarded him the title of Envoy of People’s Friendship of Wuxi. He has further been the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ireland-China Business Association, and a similar award from the Centre for Local and Regional Governance here at UCC, along with an LGBTI Champion Award from the LGBTI Inter Agency Group.
In sum, Pat has had a busy and fulfilling career, contributing in multiple ways across diverse areas to our city but also community in the fullest sense of the term, be it at local, national or international level. Against this background, I am very pleased that he is nominated here today to receive an honorary doctoral degree award in Arts as a fitting recognition of his immense contribution over many years.