Millionaire nearly pulled the plug on UL

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

THE FOUNDING president of the University of Limerick has revealed in his new book that millionaire philanthropist Lewis Glucksman threatened to remove his name from the university library and resign from the UL Foundation over a dispute about Ed Walsh’s retirement package.

THE FOUNDING president of the University of Limerick has revealed in his new book that millionaire philanthropist Lewis Glucksman threatened to remove his name from the university library and resign from the UL Foundation over a dispute about Ed Walsh’s retirement package.

In the new book, entitled Upstart – Friends, Foes and Founding a University, Dr Edward Walsh reveals that Glucksman was angered when Jack Daly, a Fianna Fail politician from Clare and the first chairman of the UL governing board, wanted to have Dr Walsh’s retirement package reviewed.

The late Lewis Glucksman, a former Lehman Brothers trader, was one of the major benefactors to UL during its early years, along with American billionaire Chuck Feeney, who has now dedicated his life to giving away his fortune.

Glucksman eventually wanted Daly removed from his key position on the board, and is reputed to have called him a ‘snake in the grass’, according to the new behind-the-scenes account of life at UL.

Speaking to the Limerick Leader this week, Dr Walsh said it was a “very nasty thing to happen” at the end of his long presidency and “an extremely emotional and difficult time”.

Daly also used his politically appointed position on the board, claims Walsh, to lobby for Charles Haughey to receive an honorary degree. But this was amply side-stepped by the founding president, who suggested the then president of Ireland, Patrick Hillery, instead.

It was, however, Daly’s relationship with Glucksman which threatened the latter’s continued support of the young institution.

“He was outraged by what happened,” Walsh said of Glucksman’s reaction to Daly actions.

Walsh explains in the book that he too was “outraged” that Daly “should try to reopen” his retirement package in one of the final meetings, which he had regarded as a “done deal.”

A new successor was then appointed to UL’s governing authority body following Glucksman’s complaints, and threats that he would contact all political leaders in the country on the matter.

*See the Limerick Leader weekend edition for a full version of this story