The unpredictable world of a university President

Next month I will have been a university President for eight years. In July 2000 I took up the post of President of Dublin City University (DCU). Rather than being a development or extension of my previous career, it was in fact a whole new life, unrelated pretty much to anything I had done before except that it was also in a university. Previously I had been Dean of Social Sciences (and Professor of Law) at the University of Hull in Northern England, and before that again I had been a Lecturer in the Business School of Trinity College Dublin. I had seen my career as being focused on research and scholarship, and on teaching talented people of all ages. But suddenly all that was over, and I had become a ‘chief officer’ – the administrative and academic and business head of a large organisation.

It is sometimes asked what value university Presidents add to the life and success of their institutions. I may not be the best person to suggest an answer, but in these notes I shall try to set out a little what in fact I do, from day to day, and how this may affect my own institution. But I should also add that while DCU has achieved extraordinary successes in recent years, I do not claim much of the credit: this is due to the talented and hard-working people who make up the university – faculty, staff and students – and without whose dedication nothing would be possible.

As I develop these notes, I shall welcome comments and questions. I can also be contacted at

Ferdinand von Prondzynski

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2 Comments on “The unpredictable world of a university President”

  1. Perry Share Says:

    Its a pity nobody responded to your first blog post – until now! In the 21 months or so since this post, it would be interesting to know how much the experience of blogging has changed your job as President – while the blog itself has of course evolved in its own way.

    • Thanks, Perry. I guess things have a life of their own, and this blog certainly has had. It was really a very modest ambition that had me start it, and I didn’t think it would attract more than a handful of readers who might read the, say, twice-a-week posts. It’s all been rather different. I may reflect on that when I hit the second anniversary…

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