NUI Galway’s new President, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh , is proving a refreshing and enlightened improvement on the previous regime headed by Jim Browne. Micheline tweeted her delight today at the change to the university boardroom. The glowering rows of portraits of previous President’s, all of them male and many of them clerics, have been banished. Female academics had long complained how intimidating a place the boardroom was – particularly as this was where their interviews for promotion took place. We used pictures of the boardroom last year to illustrate our post on the influence of the Church, and particularly Opus Dei, on NUI Galway.
We hope to soon announce a more significant change which is down to the new University President: the promotion of the four women taking High Court gender discrimination cases against NUI Galway. We know President Ó hÓgartaigh offered them an acceptable solution soon after he took office. That was five months ago. We now hear there’s been a big push by NUI Galway to get government to finally sign off on the agreement for this week. That’s not surprising, as this Wednesday is the rescheduled High Court hearing into NUI Galway’s attempt to have the cases thrown out on a technicality. As the hearing has been deferred twice already, because of the potential deal, a further deferral, wasting yet more court time, would not be viewed sympathetically by the judge.
So watch this space! Either shortly, it’s all going to be over and we can all celebrate, or there could be a lot of upset in NUI Galway!
Oh, and we must add something else about the removal of the portraits. Their removal means Jim Browne won’t have his own portrait hung in the boardroom. It seems so appropriate that he is banished too. As he, hopefully, is going to be the last NUI Galway President to be so dismissive of the potential of the university’s female staff.