New UCC President Professor Patrick O’Shea begins work today

1 February 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth

Universities must have creative and innovative funding streams to support economic development in addition to state funding, according to the new President of University College Cork, Professor Patrick O’Shea.

The Cork native and UCC physics graduate, who takes up his appointment as 15th President of his alma mater today, February 1, 2017, has vowed the institution will “continue its rise among the great universities of the world” during his tenure.

In his previous role as Vice President and Chief Research Officer at the University of Maryland in the US, Professor O’Shea was at the helm of a $500 million (€470m) per annum research and innovation enterprise. His academic, political and business acumen helped the University to become one of the leading research universities in the world.

Having tackled austerity and tight government funding for US universities, Professor O’Shea prides himself on having maintained an optimistic and proactive outlook. Under his leadership, the University of Maryland achieved two years of record research funding in 2015 and 2016, and is on track to achieve even higher levels in 2017.

“In parallel, the University of Maryland also reached unprecedented heights in research rankings and scholarly excellence, rising to among the top universities in the world. We achieved new heights in our graduation rates, in scholarly output and intellectual property development, and in our impact on the economy and the community, while remaining faithful to our core academic principles,” said Professor O’Shea.

Pointing out that he has had to develop into an “enthusiastic partnership-builder” in recent years, the new President said he is well positioned to develop close links with UCC’s alumni, and with all sectors of Irish society to “promote symbiotic partnerships and significant fundraising programmes.”

“These will secure the resources – the human and physical capital – that UCC needs to deliver on its mission and vision,” he added.

Professor O’Shea is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-Teacher.

Previously he served as Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Director of the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, at the University of Maryland.

Best known for his pioneering work on electron-accelerators and free-electron lasers, Professor O’Shea’s area of expertise is in electromagnetics. He has played a leading role in several large research programs and supervised the work of 24 doctoral graduates. His other interests include history, linguistics, athletics and cycling.

His membership of boards included Universitas 21 Research Leaders Steering Group (which brings together 25 of the world’s leading research universities), the National Institute of Aerospace, Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board, the Maryland Cybersecurity Council, the Maryland Innovation Initiative, Oak Ridge Associated Universities and Foundation.

On his appointment last June Professor O’Shea said: “My physics degree from UCC laid the foundations for a successful academic career in the US culminating in my current leadership role at the University of Maryland. I am delighted to return to lead my alma mater, a university of ancient heritage and modern focus. I thank outgoing President Dr Michael Murphy and the staff of UCC for the amazing job they have all done in securing our future. UCC’s students and staff have impressed me with their enthusiasm and commitment to excellence in education, scholarship, research and service. Through their dedication, passion, and achievement, UCC will continue its rise among the great universities of the world.”

He is married to UCC graduate and scientist Miriam Smyth Ph.D., who works in clinical and biomedical research administration. They have one son, Ronan, who is an undergraduate student.

Professor O’Shea attended secondary school at Coláiste Chríost Rí in Cork, and holds an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Maryland.

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