Prof Kerstin Mey has been appointed interim president of UL, marking the first time a woman has been appointed head of a university in Ireland.
Mey’s appointment comes after Des Fitzgerald resigned from the role in May, citing “the context of covid-19” as the reason for his departure. She will hold the position for the next 18 months.
In a press statement, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said: “I am delighted to welcome the appointment of Dr Mey as interim president of the University of Limerick. This is a key strategic appointment in our higher education sector.”
“I am particularly pleased to welcome Dr Mey as the first female president of a university in Ireland”, Harris said. “Dr Mey’s prolific academic record, renowned research and established leadership both in Ireland and internationally will be of immense benefit to the university and I wish all in the university well in this new and exciting phase. I look forward to visiting in due course to see the work for myself.”
“This is an historic appointment. I want to state my commitment to the roll-out of the senior academic leadership initiative in higher education set in place by the last Government, to increase the number of women at professor level in our universities.”
Mey was appointed vice president and professor of visual culture at UL in 2018, having previously served as pro-vice chancellor and dean of the Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, as well as professor of contemporary art and theory at the University of Westminster, London.
Harris also paid tribute to Mey’s predecessor: “I would also like to pay tribute to Dr Des Fitzgerald, who recently retired as President of the University of Limerick. He led the university at an important time in its development, and an important time for higher education.”
“His contribution to higher education in Ireland is inestimable”, Harris said, “and I am sure that his contribution and support will continue in other guises.”