IT is one of the biggest assets of the region, and one of the largest employers in the mid-west, but some people still haven’t visited ‘Ireland’s most beautiful campus’, even though it is right on their doorstep.
That is the view of Professor Paul McCutcheon, vice president academic and registrar, who is encouraging the public to visit the University of Limerick and join in the range of events to celebrate their momentous 40th anniversary.
“We are Limerick’s university and we have an open campus. It is used extensively by people from Limerick and the region, but we want to reinforce that over the coming weekend. We have been part of Limerick for 40 years and Limerick has been part of us.”
Prof McCutcheon, chair of the steering group for the UL40 events, said “there is no doubt that some people haven’t frequented the campus, but we want them to frequent UL and see the place for themselves.”
The UL40 celebrations will also be brought into the city over the coming months. Prof McCutcheon, who has worked in UL for 29 years, said “the great thing about the celebration is that some of the people who were here at the very beginning are still here. They really were pioneers. The staff and the students were coming into something, and no one really knew what the NIHE was about. They took that leap of faith and set the development for a fantastic university.”
The UL40 celebrations will begin in earnest this Friday, September 28, but will run throughout the year.
UL, then the NIHE, accepted its first cohort of 113 students on October 2, 1972. At that time there was only one building on campus; now there are 40 buildings spread across more than 330 acres in two counties, with the €16m Living Bridge linking counties Limerick and Clare.
The Limerick Leader will be producing a special supplement this week to document the long, hard fight by Limerick citizens to gain a university for the region, which began in 1959. It will accompany all weekend editions of the paper, available this Thursday.
From humble beginnings - when there were just six books in the UL library - almost 65,000 students have graduated from UL in the past 40 years, and its alumni are now working in 78 countries worldwide, from Algeria to Trinidad.
The official launch of UL40 will take place on campus from this Friday, September 28 to Sunday, September 30.
From Friday, the public can enjoy the UL40 photographic exhibition in the foundation building, which features images of how the campus has developed over the last 40 years; a photographic exhibition of some of its longest staff members; an art and craft fair from 9am-5pm in the foundation building (UCH atrium); the farmers’ market in the main plaza; an international food fair with 15 countries exhibiting their traditional food, amongst live entertainment.