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UL President under pressure following multiple resignation calls

Kerstin Mey. Photo: ul.ie.

Professor Kerstin Mey has been President of UL since July 2020, after taking over from former President Des Fitzgerald.

UL President, Professor Kerstin Mey, has faced multiple calls for her resignation, following a major overpayment by the University for property in the Rhebogue area. 

Twenty homes in the city suburb were bought as student accommodation for more than €11 million, an overpayment of approximately €5.2 million. Ten of the University’s 13-member executive committee signed a letter of no confidence in the President last week.

This committee acts as a board to support the President in ensuring effective leadership, coordination, and management of the activities in the University by monitoring the delivery of the University’s strategic plan and budget, as approved by the Governing Authority.

Following this, Professor Mey addressed all staff in an email on Friday, March 22 in which she verified the details of the financial issue, saying that independent valuations confirmed that the University had paid “significantly above market price” for the premises. 

The calls come just weeks after it emerged that the University also made an overpayment of roughly €1.5 million for its City Centre campus building in 2019 in the former Dunnes Stores building on Sarsfield Street. 

In the email, the President said: “This is an issue of major concern for the University in terms of management, governance and reputation.

“It is a matter of regret for me as President and I am aware that there is frustration and anger among staff members that this has happened so soon after the issues that arose in relation to the City Centre Campus.” 

The President also confirmed that UL would have to “absorb the resulting draft impairment” and as a result, the financial year-end position will end in a deficit. 

The deficit will be funded by the University’s financial reserves. 

Unite, the sole trade union which represents almost 900 of UL’s employees, has also expressed a lack of confidence in the President. 

Convenor of Unite, Professor Eoin Devereux, penned a letter addressed to UL Chancellor, Brigid Laffan, saying that members of the union are becoming “increasingly distrustful of senior management” at the University. 

The letter makes strong calls for a “forensic investigation to be undertaken to identify those involved in this debacle,” and for a “radical overhaul” in the way the University is managed. 

Professor Devereux also claimed the overpayment was a “shameful waste of scarce resources” and officially declared that the union membership has no confidence in the President. 

In addition, UL Postgraduate Students’ Union (PSU), which represents over 4,000 postgraduate students in the college appealed for the University President to resign, following an emergency meeting on Monday.

The meeting saw PSU President, Roger Dsilva address the PSU executive, PSU council and members of the postgraduate community. Following this, a letter was sent to both the Chancellor and President of the University. 

The letter urged both to “recognise the gravity of this situation,” and raised concerns regarding Professor Mey’s “shortcomings in leadership, decision making, and preparedness for the role.” 

A full review which will critically examine the acquisition of the Rhebogue properties is currently in progress, following a decision by the UL Governing Authority last December.

Limerick Voice understands that UL bosses are set to appear before the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, April 11 to discuss this overpayment. 

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