Des Fitzgerald, the president of the University of Limerick (UL), has today announced his resignation, just three years after he took up the role.
In an email sent to UL staff, seen by The University Times, Fitzgerald – a medical doctor appointed UL’s president in May 2017 – said he took the decision to resign “in the context of Covid 19”.
According to a document circulated in the email, Fitzgerald said that “the virus will directly impact my ability to serve the university and limit my ability to fully engage once we get our community back onto the campus”.
He said he was “particularly proud of UL’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, in recognising its gravity early, in rapidly and successfully moving online and in contributing to the fight against the pandemic in our community”.
Fitzgerald, whose appointment as UL president came on the heels of a string of high-profile controversies that saw the college criticised for its use of severance payments – worth €1.7 million – and its handling of staffing issues.
It investigated eight severance packages agreed between 2007 and 2015, and found that in five of the cases, individuals felt under pressure to agree to an exit deal.
Today, Fitzgerald said: “I believe we have also made important progress on tackling many of the controversial issues which predated my appointment and which were set out in the Thorn Report, the Deloitte Internal Audit and the report of the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG).”
“I am glad that during my period in office most of the issues detailed in the above reports have been dealt with and their recommendations implemented”, he said.
UL Chancellor Mary Harney said Fitzgerald “has been a transformational President and I regret that he has had to take this decision as a result of Covid 19”.
“I want to thank Des for all his hard work”, she added.
Correction: 15:35, May 26th, 2020
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Fitzgerald had resigned two years after taking the role. In fact, Fitzgerald took on the position three years ago.