Prof Brigid Laffan has been appointed Chancellor and Chair of the Government Department of the University of Limerick (UL).
The academic and political scientist succeeds outgoing UL Chancellor Mary Harney, who has held the position since January 2018.
In October, the governing body failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority among members to confirm the candidacy of the university’s current vice-chancellor, Rose Hynes.
Prof Laffan is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on European integration and makes an important contribution to the debate about how the European project affects Ireland’s foreign policy.
Prof Laffan was one of the first students to attend UL – then the National Institute of Higher Education. In 2022, the UL recognized her exceptional contribution to science and European affairs by awarding her an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. Prof Laffan is also the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement UL Alumni Award (2018).
Prof Kerstin Mey, president of the university, said the panel was “really happy” to have attracted a person of Prof Laffan’s calibre, international profile and skills.
Prof. Mey also paid tribute to the outgoing Chancellor, Ms. Harney.
“We are deeply grateful to our outgoing Chancellor, Mary Harney, who has worked tirelessly for UL since becoming Chancellor in 2018. UL has benefited enormously from her vast experience, political savvy and steady advice in the past for almost six years. We are very grateful to her for her service and immense contribution,” said Prof. Mey.
Commenting on her appointment as Chancellor, Prof Laffan said: “My decision to go to Limerick in 1972 proved to be the defining decision of my life and I and my classmates have retained a deep compassion and commitment to UL.”
“I have watched the University grow and prosper over the last 50 years and now, as newly elected Chancellor, I am very much looking forward to being part of its future.
“We have a lot to celebrate and even more to achieve. I am very proud of UL, its students and staff who have proven themselves to be world class. I look forward to working with the president, her leadership team and my government colleagues to ensure the continued prosperity and sustainability of our university.”
Prof Laffan is from Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, and now lives in Dublin. She is a graduate of European Studies (UL), Professor Emeritus of the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence, Professor Emeritus of UCD and a well-known commentator on European affairs.
A former Jean Monnet Professor of European Politics at UCD, she was founding director of the college’s Dublin European Institute, served as principal of the College of Human Sciences for seven years and was appointed UCD vice-president in 2005, later becoming director of the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies in 2013.
Since leaving the European University Institute, Prof. Laffan has continued to work on large EU collaborative research projects.
She has published 10 books and written countless magazine articles and book chapters, and is the recipient of prestigious awards such as the Ordre national du Mérite – an award given by the French President.