Staff fear brown-noser to succeed Jimmy at NUIG

Jim Browne: who will slip into his gown?
Jim Browne: who will slip into his gown?

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

With NUIG President close to completing his term, rumours abound at the Newcastle campus as to what Jimmy Browne will do next and who will replace him.

Browne’s next move is of lesser importance to those he will leave behind but if there was a vacancy at the Higher Education Authority (HEA) it seems plausible that he’d take it.

Of much more concern to the student and staff proletariat right now is who will take over the reins when Jimmy departs.

There are many in-house options available but with a six-figure salary to go with the prestigious position, inevitably there will be outside interest, too.

Surprise, surprise, the university has never had a woman at the helm, and so we can be fairly certain that the next president will be a man.

Well, it is NUIG, after all, where a glass ceiling for some women has prevented advancement of gender equality. That narrows the field.

But let’s just say they have a rush of blood to the head, and do plump for the fairer sex, Anne Scott, the Vice President for Equality and Diversity, would be in pole position. She’s the woman brought in to clean-up NUIG’s act in terms of its poor record of gender equality; and she certainly has the credentials.

Caroline Loughnane, the current Academic Secretary, and former Director of Marketing and Communications, is a close ally of Jimmy Browne’s and might be a dark horse if they dispense with tradition and opt for a woman.

Appointing a woman to the top-spot might be good for the optics. But unless the newbie has the backbone to tackle systemic discrimination, beginning with precarious employment, then the President’s gender is only window dressing.

Of course, there are many men at NUIG in the frame.

Close confidantes of Jimmy’s include NUIG Legal Secretary, Gearóid Ó Conluain, and Donncha O’Connell, the head of the Law School, although sources on campus say neither men have made any great play for the presidency.

Pól Ó Dochartaigh, the Registrar and Deputy-President, we hear, is another favoured to take the top spot, while also mentioned in despatches is Tim O’Brien, the ambitious Dean of the College of Medicine.

John McHale, the former chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, and lecturer of economics at NUIG, has been linked to the job in the event of an internal appointment; while a candidate such as Irish-American Larry Donnelly, may yet come out of left-field.

Another option is for complete regime-change, and for an outsider to come in. Those applying will inevitably include outside careerists, who’ve worked their way up greasy poles in other third level institutes, and presumably, those genuinely open to culture change at NUIG.

In the event of an outsider, no prizes for guessing, who staff would prefer: no brown-nosers need apply.

Read Dara’s column in full in this week’s Galway City Tribune.