THE University of Limerick will honour the very first students who enrolled on the campus in 1972 as it marks the 40th anniversary this weekend.
Eighty members of the original class will be conferred with honorary Masters of Philosophy degrees this Saturday. A special remembrance mass will also be held for those who have passed away, and will have the awards made posthumously in their honour.
Forty trees will also be planted across the campus in recognition of each graduating year.
Speaking about the UL40 celebrations, UL president, professor Don Barry said: “Almost 65,000 students have graduated from UL in the past 40 years and it all began with 113 pioneering students who took a chance on a new and very different third-level institution in 1972. From its inception the University of Limerick broke the mould of third level education in Ireland under the inspirational leadership of Ed Walsh and this year we are marking 40 years of innovation.”
He said UL has pioneered many ‘firsts’ in the at time, including the introduction of co-operative education and the establishment of the medical school.
Professor Paul McCutcheon, vice president academic and registrar and chair of the committee in charge of UL40, is encouraging the public to visit UL this weekend and throughout the year for a series of events to celebrate their momentous 40th anniversary.
“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.”
UL, then the NIHE, accepted its first cohort of 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.
From humble beginnings –when there were just six books in the UL library – its alumni are now working in 78 countries worldwide, from Algeria to Trinidad.
The official launch of UL40 will take place on campus 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.
Visit www.ul.ie/ul40 for more on the anniversary celebrations.
See this weekend’s Limerick Leader, print editions, for a special 16-page souvenir supplement.