Mary McAleese will take over the role of Chancellor of the University of Dublin, having been nominated by twenty-nine members of the University Senate of the University. There were no other candidates at the close of nominations on Wednesday, andMcAleese was therefore elected unopposed. She will take over the position from Mary Robinson, who held the role from 1998 until her term ended in May of this year.
Both Robinson and McAleese are former Presidents of Ireland and were once Reid Professors of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity. Professor McAleese was the youngest person to hold this position at the age of twenty-four.
Speaking on the nomination, Provost Patrick Prendergast said what an honour it is, “to have an academic of such great distinction as Dr Mary McAleese as Chancellor of the University of Dublin”. adding: “We now look forward to her participation in the life of the College.”
As Chancellor Professor McAleese will be head of the University and will chair meetings of the University Senate. This includes overseeing important ceremonial events such as commencement ceremonies when the University of Dublin is awarding degrees. The Chancellor also selects those that receive honorary degrees by selecting people of integrity and exceptional achievement that have made outstanding contributions to scholarship, society, culture or civil society.
Additionally, the Chancellor hears appeals against decisions made by the College Board and interprets the College Statutes. Professor McAleese will be one of two Visitors in charge of this responsibility along with The Hon. Dr Justice Maureen Harding Clark, a former member of the High Court.
Professor Paula Murphy, Registrar at Trinity, noted that she is “very much look forward to working with the incoming Chancellor and joining the College Community in welcoming her most warmly to this important position as Head of the University”.
McAleese graduated in Law from Queen’s University Belfast after which she became the first female pro-vice-chancellor of the university in 1994. She has had an extensive career in multiple fields, also working as a barrister and a journalist.
In August of this year, McAleese was awarded the Alfons Auer Ethics Award, the most prestigious Catholic theology prize. For which she submitted a 500,000-word doctoral thesis on Children’s Rights and Obligations in Canon Law.
McAleese’s husband, Dr Martin McAleese, is currently serving as the Chancellor of Dublin City University (DCU).