The former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese has been appointed Distinguished Professor in Irish Studies at St Mary's University, Twickenham, London. The appointment comes as the Catholic university prepares to celebrate the 165th anniversary of its foundation, confirming the institution's historic links with Ireland and the quarter century existence of the Centre for Irish Studies (CIS).
Dr Mary McAleese, President of Ireland between 1997 and 2011, will take up her position in the School of Arts and Humanities in the 2015/16 academic year. During her presidency, the historic negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 were reached. Dr McAleese will teach on the MA Irish Studies programme and in particular its New Perspectives on Irish History seminar series. She will give a keynote conference lecture and take part in a programme of public conversations during her period of appointment.
In addition, she will give two public lectures at the University's Centre for Law and Culture. She will carry out research and her teaching will draw on her experience and insights from two terms as Ireland's Head of State and more than 30 years experience in Irish public life.
Born in Belfast, Dr McAleese is the first President of Ireland to come from Northern Ireland. The theme of her presidency was Building Bridges to address issues concerning justice, social equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation. Dr McAleese played a major role in the Northern Irish peace process and she hosted Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in the highly successful British state visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011.
St Mary's is the largest Catholic university in the UK. In 2015 it will celebrate 165 years since its foundation in 1850. The University recently appointed Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, as its Chancellor.
St Mary's Vice-Chancellor Francis Campbell said: It's a huge honour for us to appoint such a distinguished and respected public figure to our staff here at St Mary's. Not only will Dr McAleese be giving us the benefit of her rich experience through her lectures, she will also be directly engaging with our students, which I've no doubt will inspire them as they prepare for the next important step in their careers."
Dr Mary McAleese said: "I am delighted to join St Mary's at an exciting time in its growth and development and look forward to meeting both students and staff. I particularly look forward to working closely with the excellent team at its Centre for Irish Studies as it researches the continuing development of Anglo-Irish relations. St Mary's, which has been a focus of Irish life in Britain for 165 years, has an important role to play in this work as we look to the next 100 years of close relations between our two countries."
Dr Mary McAleese served as the eighth President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011. She is a member both of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland and the Irish Bar, a former Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College, Dublin and was Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies and first female pro-Vice Chancellor at Queen's University, Belfast. Since her second Presidential term ended in 2011, Dr McAleese has been a Visiting Professor at Boston College, but her appointment to St Mary's is her first at a London University.
Source: St Mary's University
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