500 staff and guests walked in procession through the University of Limerick campus yesterday (Friday) to mark the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the university’s predecessor, the National Institute of Higher Education (NIHE), in 1972.
Members of faculty, governing authority and executive committee walked behind the UL ceremonial mace from the institute’s original single building at Plassey House to the University Concert Hall (UCH).
Referring to the extraordinary growth of the institution over the past 50 years, UL President Professor Kerstin Mey outlined ambitious plans including a commitment to anchor sustainability in all future development activity at the University.
“This public university, the first one founded after the independence of Ireland, came into being through the determination of the people of Limerick to serve as a catalyst for the economic and social transformation of the Mid-West.
“The notion that technology must serve as a bridge between the arts and the sciences paved the way for NIHE to be developed as a conduit between the regional technical colleges and universities.
“It is our responsibility to take bold action – to have the courage to explore the unknown, to test the boundaries of existing knowledge and to excavate lost knowledge. It is our collective responsibility to pioneer and lead a better path forward.
“We take this responsibility very seriously and we can build on what has already been achieved, above all, through the talent of our staff and students,” Professor Mey declared.
The event marked the start of UL’s Gala Week which includes the university’s Alumni Awards, a reception for the original class of 1972 and ‘Sounding Sionna: A Celebration of Music at UL’, which takes place in the UCH on November 24.
The concert features Grammy Award-winning singer Rhiannon Giddens, Muireann Nic Amhloaibh and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Libra Strings led by Diane Daly, the Irish World Academy Artists led by Breandán de Gallaí, and the premier of a new work by Patrick Cassidy co-commissioned by UL and RTÉ lyric fm.
A full schedule of events is taking place to mark UL’s fifty years: seminars, conferences, concerts, exhibitions, publications, lectures, and cultural and sporting projects.
The exhibition ‘A University of Our Time: University of Limerick, 1972–2022’ in the Millstream Building near the Living Bridge, which is open to the public and explores the origins and development of the University and the institutions that went before it.
A separate exhibition is on display in the Glucksman Library called ‘50 Years of Pioneering Women at the University of Limerick Past and Present’ and which shows how women advocated for equality within the University and society. It runs until May of next year.
More than 117,000 students have graduated from University of Limerick in the past 50 years and over 20,000 international students from 136 countries have studied at UL. More than 5,800 people have been employed on a full-time capacity at UL in its fifty-year history, making it one of the Limerick region’s biggest employers.