2016. Biography of Paddy Mullins
Mullins, Patrick (‘Paddy’) (1919–2010)   P Gerry McKenna MRIA   Paddy Mullins, racehorse trainer, was born on 28 January 1919 in the townland of Old Grange near Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny. He was the second eldest of seven children (four boys and three girls) of Willie Mullins, a prosperous farmer who later trained racehorses, and his wife Catherine (née Hayden). The family moved in December 1923 to an extensive farm that had been owned by Paddy’s grandfather, James Mullins. Their new home was Doninga House close to the River Barrow near the village of Goresbridge.   From his early years the young Paddy was riding ponies, and took part in showjumping events and pony races. In 1931 at the age of 11 he won his first race at a children’s point-to-point on a pony named Bobby. Educated locally, he completed his studies at the De La Salle Brothers at Bag ...read more


2016. EU Referendum: Northern Ireland Should Vote for Opportunity and Against Isolation
EU Referendum: Northern Ireland Should Vote for Opportunity and Against Isolation Professor Gerry McKenna MRIA The debate on the forthcoming EU Referendum has been driven as much by ideology as economic reality. Voters should reflect not only on personal ‘comfort zone’ preferences but also on future opportunities for our children and grandchildren. Much has been made by the ‘Remain’ side of the EU funding which supports our agri-food sector, infrastructure, training programmes, research and development, student exchange, tourism, environment protection and community development. Conversely the ‘Leave’ campaign has argued that the UK contribution to the EU could be diverted to various causes, including some in Northern Ireland, in the event of UK wi ...read more


2016. Youth and Academia want to Remain in EU
2016.  Youth and Academia want to Remain in EU Professor Gerry McKenna MRIA The debate on the forthcoming EU Referendum has been driven as much by ideology as economic reality. Voters should reflect carefully on future opportunities for their children and grandchildren. Much has been made by the ‘Remain’ side of access to the EU ‘single market’ and the EU funding which supports our agri-food sector, infrastructure, training programmes, research and development , student exchange, tourism, environment protection and community development. Conversely the ‘Leave’ campaign has argued that the net annual UK contribution to the EU could be diverted to various causes, including some in Northern Ireland, in the event of UK withdrawal. Unsurprisingly, ...read more


2016. Royal Irish Academy Advice Paper on the Sustainability of the Northern Ireland Higher Education Sector
  Key Points The Northern Ireland higher education system is experiencing a period of unprecedented underfunding which threatens the planned economic development of Northern Ireland as envisaged in the 2015 Stormont Agreement ‘A Fresh Start’. Northern Ireland (NI) is especially dependent on the economic and social benefits of a strong higher education and research system particularly as the NI Executive attempts to transform the economy to develop a knowledge-based industrial sector and to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) through a planned reduction in the corporation tax rate. Cuts to the higher education system will undermine efforts to stimulate FDI by reducing the number ...read more


2015. Amyan Macfadyen Obituary
  Obituary: Professor Amyan Macfadyen MRIA (1920-2015)   Ecologist and Academic   Amyan Macfadyen was one of the most influential figures in ecology research and environmental education during the latter half of the 20th century.  A soil ecologist, he carried out pioneering work on soil ecosystems using methods and approaches which did much to legitimise ecology as a major, though highly complex, scientific discipline.   Amyan Macfadyen was born on 11 December 1920. He was the eldest son of Sir Eric (1879-1966) and Violet Macfadyen (nee Champneys, 1895-1992). Sir Eric was an English colonial administrator, r ...read more


2015 Biography of Vincent O'Brien
  O’Brien, Michael Vincent (1917-2009)   P. Gerry McKenna MRIA  Michael Vincent O’Brien, known by his middle name Vincent, or ´MV´, is generally regarded to have been the greatest racehorse trainer of the 20th century. He possessed the widest range of accomplishments, having excelled in flat racing, under National Hunt rules, and as a buyer and breeder of bloodstock. O’Brien was a visionary who anticipated and helped to create the immense international surge in the value of bloodstock which began in the 1970s and brought Ireland to the pinnacle of thoroughbred breeding by the beginning of the 21st ...read more


2015 The oversight of HE within the proposed Northern Ireland Department for the Economy.
   The oversight of HE within the proposed Northern Ireland Department for the Economy. -         “Universities and higher education are worthwhile in their own right. They transform the lives of individuals and shape our society for the better.  -         Universities are also powerhouses for economic growth. They are a vital part of the government’s long term economic plan to build a more resilient economy and create jobs”. David Willetts, Minister for ...read more


1995 Vincent O'Brien: Encomium for Honorary Degree
     University of Ulster     Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science     MICHAEL VINCENT O´BRIEN                                               Presentation Address by       Professor P G (Gerry) McKenna BSc PhD CBiol FIBiol FIBMS ...read more


2014 Short Obituary: Professor Norman Gibson CBE MRIA
Obituary: Professor Norman Gibson CBE MRIA Norman Gibson was a major figure in the higher education and socio-political landscape of Northern Ireland for a period of over 30 years. He will be remembered for his courage, integrity and independence of mind. Gibson was a founding academic of the New University of Ulster (NUU) and played a critical role in the successful establishment of the University of Ulster (UU). Born in Lisnaskea in Co Fermanagh in 1931, Norman James Gibson attended Portora Royal School in Enniskillen before studying economics at Queen’s University Belfast where he obtained a first class honours in 1953 and a PhD in 1959.  He advanced his studies in economics at the University of Chicago in 1958-9 where he met his future wife, Faith, then a visiting Australian Fulbright Scholar. They married in 1959 in New Yor ...read more


2014 Obituary: Professor Norman Gibson CBE MRIA
Obituary: Professor Norman Gibson CBE MRIA                         Norman Gibson was a major figure in the higher education and socio-political landscape of Northern Ireland for a period of over 30 years; spanning its troubled and transformational years from the 1960s to the 1990s. He will be remembered for his courage, integrity and independence of mind. Gibson was a founding academic of the New University of Ulster (NUU) and played a critical role in the successful establishment of the University of Ulster (UU). He was an unwavering advocate of a pluralist Ireland and supported his opinions through a range of academic and other publications analysing various economic and political models. Born in ...read more


2014 Religious and Political Conflict – the Story of Northern Ireland
Religious and Political Conflict – the Story of Northern   Ireland Professor Gerry McKenna MRIA Ancient Ireland Ireland has had a long history of bloody conflicts as a result of invasions and internal divisions. The first major Irish inhabitants were Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who came after 8,000 BC following the end of the ‘ice age’. At around 6,000 BC they began to develop agriculture including pottery, stone tools and wooden houses. They also developed megalithic communal tombs many of them astronomically aligned and which remain today, most notably the tombs at Newgrange in Co Meath which were build around 3,200 BC, making them older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt and Stonehenge in England. There followed the Bronze Age from arou ...read more


2013 University of Ulster - The Innovation Phase
 University of Ulster – The Innovation Phase   Professor Gerry McKenna MRIA   Following its creation in 1984 through the merger of the New University of Ulster and the Ulster Polytechnic, the University of Ulster (UU) went through a necessary ‘establishment phase’. This involved a period of consolidation at its Jordanstown, Coleraine and Belfast campuses, allowing for its different traditions and practices to coalesce, and was accompanied by a determined effort to grow the previously neglected Magee campus. Magee had just over 500 students when the merger took place and its growth was achieved through some additional places being funded by government, but mostly ...read more


2013. Obituary: Professor Robert (Bob) Welch MRIA
Obituary: Robert Anthony (Bob) Welch MRIA (1947-2013)  Professor Bob Welch MRIA was a distinguished scholar, poet, novelist and playwright, as well as being a transformative faculty dean and research group leader.   Born in Cork in 1947, Bob Welch studied English and Irish for his first degree at University College Cork before taking a Masters degree in literature under Sean Lucy. He then studied for his PhD at Leeds University under the supervision of the noted Yeats scholar A N Jeffares during which time he held lectureships at the Universities of Leeds and Ife, Nigeria. His research at Leeds majored on the interaction between Gaelic tradition and Irish poetry in English, for which he received international recognition and a field in which he ...read more


2013. Tribute to Professor Bob Welch MRIA
  Robert Anthony (Bob) Welch MRIA (1947-2013) Bob Welch enriched the lives of a great many people; socially, intellectually, professionally, and spiritually. This enrichment was based on the continuous development, and exploitation, of the extraordinary gifts he possessed; creativity, curiosity, love of literature, a sense of history and heritage, and an uncommon facility with words. As I observed his prodigious output of high quality academic and creative publications during his illness, I was reminded constantly of the ‘Parable of the Talents’. Bob did not bury or hoard the talents he was given – he multiplied them, sharing them freely and generously with others.  I first met Bob in 1984 when he was appointed to the chair in English Literature at the newly establish ...read more


2007 Ulster - How Biomedical Sciences transfomed a university
ULSTER – HOW BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES TRANSFORMED A UNIVERSITY  Professor Gerry McKenna FIBMS, CSci As an innovation powerhouse in teaching and research, biomedical sciences at Ulster has demonstrated the standards and influence that a truly outstanding department can achieve and also the synergies that can exist between its various strands of activity. Biomedical Sciences developed, as a higher education degree level academic discipline, in the late 1970’s with honours degree programmes being introduced at Bradford, Portsmouth and Cardiff, followed by Ulster in 1980.  This reflected a view in the profession that the subject should be research-led and that deg ...read more


2008 It's all right for some.
    Professor Gerry McKenna The current debate on the use of citations for determining future research funding following the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is sad to witness. It raises simultaneously all that is good and, regrettably, deficient with academic thinking and analysis. Perhaps it was ever thus. What is being proposed is what all governments since the mid-1980s have promoted, namely that research funding should be concentrated in a few elite universities. This may make sense to some who want to pull up the drawbridge behind them and ossify the system. It is a policy that has been promoted by some vice-chancellors, mostly behind closed doors, in the often mistaken belief that their institution would benefit in the short term. Every successive research assessme ...read more


2009 The Triple Crown – the Dream is Not Over!
 Professor Gerry McKenna This year has seen, like most others for the past twenty or more years, the ritual denigration by some commentators of the Doncaster  St Leger and the perceived anachronism represented by the English ‘Triple Crown’. The argument goes along the lines that: the St Leger no longer attracts the top middle distance horses, breeders shun St Leger winners and it is unreasonable , in the modern day, to expect any three year old thoroughbred to excel over the range of distances involved (1 to 1 ¾ miles) in winning the Triple Crown. This line of reasoning is beginning to wear a little thin. The St Leger has had, in recent years, something of a resurgence; most notably in 2008 when Conduit outpointed the Oaks winner and went on to a resounding victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf over a mile and a half. ...read more


2004 The Management Challenges for a 21st Century University
Reflections of a Vice-Chancellor and President (Booklet published by the University of Ulster). [ Click here to view ] ...read more


Professor P G (Gerry) McKenna: Selected sample of scientific publications
2003: M B E Livingstone; P J Robson; A E Black; W A Coward; J M W Wallace; M C McKinley; J J Strain; P G McKennaAn evaluation of the sensitivity and specificity of energy expenditure measured by heart rate and the Goldberg cut-off for energy intake: basal metabolic rate for identifying mis-reporting of energy intake by adults and children: a retrospective analysis.European journal of clinical nutrition 2003;57(3):455-63. 2000: P L Hyland; A L Keegan; M D Curran; D Middleton; P G McKenna; Y A BarnettEffect of a dCTP:dTTP pool imbalance on DNA replication fidelity in Friend murine erythroleukemia cells.Environmental and molecular mutagenesis 2000;36 ...read more


2008 Coleraine Chronicle: Gerry Looks to the Future
Former vice-chancellor speaks for first time about his time at the university, the credit crunch, the future of post-primary selection and his belief that a united front will help place Coleraine at the forefront of any economic upturn Gerry looks to the future   The former vice-chancellor of the University of Ulster, Professor Gerry McKenna, claims he remains the university’s number one supporter, despite the acrimonious nature of his departure from the top job. Speaking publicly for the first time since relinquishing his post in 2005, the Tyrone native said he retained a lot of very happy memories from his 35 years association with the university and, in particular, the Coleraine campus.That relationship culminated in Pr ...read more


2011 Radiography and the REF
RADIOGRAPHY: GUEST EDITORIAL Professor P G McKenna  The development of radiography degree programmes in the late 1980s coincided with the introduction of the periodic assessment of research performance in UK universities. The first Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) took place in 1989, followed by similar exercises in 1992, 1996, 2001 and 2008. The purpose of introducing the RAE was to allocate block research funding to universities on the basis of quality and volume of activity. Although there have been some modifications in methodology and performance descriptors from one exercise to the next, the basic approach has remained unchanged: research performance is assessed in each subject area (Unit of Assessment; UoA) in each university by peer review, with ratings being awarded largely on the basis of outputs (mostly publications) over the review perio ...read more


2008 Higher Education, Research and Knowledge Transfer as Drivers of the Knowledge Economy in Northern Ireland
Professor Gerry McKenna   Universities are also the main providers of research in Northern Ireland. Research and development in the private sector is still low relative to Great Britain and the Irish Republic. While other public bodies (DHSSPS, DARD, DOE etc.) carry out some research, it is modest in output, though not necessarily in funding, relative to the universities. Those responsible for economic development should be seriously engaged in public debate and policy formation related to the scale, quality and broad priorities in research for a number of reasons. Firstly, the supply of high quality graduates and researchers for future industrial requirements is dependent on the research base in the universities. Secondly, recruitment of high quality academics necessary to maintain high quality education requires an intern ...read more


2011 Biomedical Science - A Degree for All Seasons
 Chas Chowdrey, David Holmes and Gerry McKenna   There has been some recent confusion and uncertainty within the higher education sector and the Biomedical Scientists profession, concerning the proposed development of degree programmes in ‘healthcare science’ as an alternative to the integrated Biomedical Science (BMS) programmes for entry into the biomedical science profession. This has arisen through the various deliberations and pronouncements emanating from the Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) project. This article sets out the compelling arguments as to why the integrated BMS programmes should remain the qualification of choice for NHS laboratory employers.   ...read more


2009 The Health of Research in the Northern Ireland Universities - Why It Matters
 Professor Gerry McKenna   The first half of 2009 has seen an upsurge in media coverage of research performance in Northern Ireland’s two universities. This has been generated mostly by the universities themselves and reported largely verbatim in the regional press. First, there were the claims, partly justified, of outstanding performance in the periodic national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). This was followed by the announcement by Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) that it was shedding over 100 academic posts in order to reinvest in ‘new blood’ to enhance future research performance. There has been little local external analysis of the research standing of QUB and the University of Ulster (UU), mainly because interpreta ...read more


2008 Springvale - The Fuller Story
 Professor Gerry McKenna   The controversial ´Springvale Educational Village Project´ involved, initially, the development of a University of Ulster (UU) campus in West/North Belfast and, later, a joint campus there with the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education (BIFHE). It has been the subject of much media attention,and some ill-informed and disingenuos comment both before and since the Report of the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) in November 2006 and the subsequent report of the Assembly Public Accounts Committee. While these reports have been accurate, within their terms of reference, they fall far short of providing a full picture of a project which was flawed in its conception and became more so as it evolved. This project, conceived in 1992 and unveiled in 1993, ...read more


2010 Why the Best Higher Education Option for Derry is a Strong Unitary University of Ulster
 Professor Gerry McKenna   The recent heightened level of interest in, and demand for, increased higher education provision in Derry including proposals by the U4D lobby for a ‘University for Derry’, is a natural reaction of a community that feels hard done by in many ways. This includes the understandable reaction to the announcement by the University of Ulster (UU) in 2009 that it plans to invest over £250 million in transferring most of its activities from the highly successful Jordanstown campus to the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast. It is also a residue from the 1960s when the decision to locate Northern Ireland’s second university in Coleraine rather than in Derrywas viewed as blatant discrimination on the part of the Unionist government ...read more


2009 North Carolina - A Model for Northern Ireland?
North Carolina - a Model for Northern Ireland?Gerry McKenna and Martin Lancaster As Northern Ireland continues the transition to peace and, hopefully, prosperity after nearly 40 years of civil strife, it is worth reflecting on lessons which might be learned from elsewhere. One region where economic and educational developments since the 1960s bear close scrutiny is North Carolina. This state, based on the East coast of the Southern United States, has a population of over 8 million, not much greater than the island of Ireland as a whole. The Ulster Scots pioneers played a major role in its development and, though the State is diverse in its ethnic make-up, they are the largest single demographic group. The State experienced many of the problems which beset Northern Ireland a few years later ...read more


2007 GLOBALISATION - The Education Challenge
Professor Gerry McKenna   As economies become increasingly knowledge-based, relying on intellectual power, creativity and entrepreneurship, governments throughout the world including the developing world, particularly China and India, have recognised the crucial importance of promoting education at all levels in ensuring and maintaining competitiveness in a global marketplace, driven largely by Darwinian principles. Without wealth creation the other paramount values of a civilised society, including social cohesion and cultural development, cannot be sustained. Northern Ireland is not exempt from the impact of globalisation. Primary Education Northern Ireland has a strong primary school sector. This has been enhanced in recent years by improvements in ...read more


2009 University of Ulster Belfast Development; University Autonomy, How Far Should It Go?
    Professor Gerry McKenna   The recent announcement by the University of Ulster of an investment of some £250 million to expand its activities in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter must have felt to many like a glow of warm light on an otherwise dark and dismal economic landscape. Here, at a stroke, a publically funded university was pumping huge sums into the local economy with the beleaguered building and property sector being the main beneficiary. More spending has been promised, rightly, for the North-West. This immediately raises the question: if UU can do this, why aren’t other publically funded institutions doing likewise? Queen’s University with its greater assets could surely raise even greater sums than UU. Other public sector institutions could take similar action. Fur ...read more


2011 Obituary: Professor Jim Allen
Professor Jim Allen will be remembered, formally, and fondly, as a highly successful Provost of the University of Ulster (UU)’s Magee campus at Londonderry, and a dedicated Pro Vice Chancellor who was the primary driver of the Sports Institute for Northern Ireland  (SINI) at its Jordanstown campus. Informally, he will be remembered as a wonderful colleague, inspirational teacher, and friend who stayed true to his core academic values. Professor Allen was born on 25 November 1951 in Londonderry. He attended Foyle and Londonderry College, then Queen’s University Belfast, where he graduated in physiology, and completed a PhD in the same subject. He was appointed to a lectureship in physiology and biochemistry at the Ulster Polytechnic in 1978. Following the merger between the Polytechnic and the New University of Ulster to form UU in 1984, he play ...read more


2010 University Tuition Fees - The Choices Facing Northern Ireland
  Professor Gerry McKenna   There has been much comment recently on the complex issue of university funding and student tuition fees. Some of the comments have been balanced, realistic and fair; others have been alarmist, and sometimes disingenuous. The reality is that university student numbers have increased greatly over the past 50 years from a time when only 6% of young people went to university.  Participation rates in higher education for 18–21 year olds grew rapidly during the 1990s and are now over 40% throughout the United Kingdom, and close to 50% in Northern Ireland. Most observers believe that the growth in university participation has been a positive development of benefit to society overall.  High quality university education is of enormous value to the econo ...read more


2011 The need to develop an affordable higher education system in Northern Ireland
 Professor Gerry McKenna The decision by the Northern Ireland Executive to keep university fees at current levels has been remarkably uncontentious. Yet the agreed ‘solution’, that the funding shortfall to the local universities should be met by funding transfers from within the Department for Employment and Learning’s budget and from other departments, is unsustainable. It is based on the accepted views that: Higher education (HE) qualifications bring lifelong advantages and no-one should be denied access to them solely on the basis of affordability. Northern Ireland’s universities should be funded at a comparabl ...read more


2011 Institutional Failures - the Sins of Omission
   Professor Gerry McKenna   We have seen in recent times a spate of corporate failures involving corrupt and morally indefensible behaviour by previously respected individuals and institutions. This includes politicians, bankers, developers, the police and the church. It has led throughout society to a massive loss of trust and has raised questions about the extent of moral culpability which reverberates far beyond the institutions involved. The issue has moved beyond the need to bring the miscreants directly involved to justice, though this is necessary. It is now also focused on the degree of moral responsibility of those in authority, including those at some remove from direct-line responsibility for the offenders. This rais ...read more