NUI Galway has announced four new senior appointments to lead the university’s work in internationalisation, science and engineering, university development and the student experience.
Professor Becky Whay will be joining in the role of vice-president: international; John Concannon has been appointed to a new role of vice-president: development; Dr Michelle Millar is the new dean of students; and Professor Walter Gear is the new executive dean of the College of Science and Engineering.
The four new appointees are part of new management structures being put in place by the university president, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh. “Our new management structures place an emphasis on our development and growth nationally and internationally, while supporting our distinctive student experience, research, teaching and public engagement," said Prof Ó hÓgartaigh.
"These appointments reflect the ambition, values and sense of purpose, people and place underpinning the new strategy for our University which we look forward to publishing later this year as we begin the next exciting chapter of NUI Galway’s development. NUI Galway is a place which encourages talented people to make a difference and I am delighted that our new appointments commence these roles with that mandate in mind.”
Professor Walter Gear
Born in Waterford city, Professor Walter Gear moved to England at a young age and studied physics and astrophysics at Queen Mary, University of London. Following his PhD in millimetre-wave studies of active galaxies and a brief sojourn as a postdoc at Lancashire Polytechnic (now UCLAN), he took up a civil service scientific officer position at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, supporting the then newly built James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii.
[caption id="attachment_49942" align="alignright" width="222"] Prof Gear[/caption]
In his time in Edinburgh, Prof Gear led the team building the first large camera for submillimetre wavelengths and spent over a year at the observatory for commissioning and early science.
On his return to the UK from Hawaii, he moved on to the Mullard Space Sciences Lab at UCL, where he played a major role in the construction of the SPIRE camera and spectrometer for far-infrared wavelengths with the Herschel Space observatory and in its science programme.
In 1999, he moved to Cardiff to create the Astronomy Instrumentation group there, and subsequently spent eight years as head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, and more recently in deanship roles for internationalisation and for postgraduate studies where he led substantive, strategic change for the benefit of the university and of his colleagues.
Over the years, Prof Gear has also taken many roles in peer review and advisory committees in the UK and Europe and is currently a member of the International Oversight Board for the JCMT, which he will continue while at NUI Galway, as we have now become a member of the consortium operating the telescope.
Professor Becky Whay
Since 2000, Professor Becky Whay has been working at the University of Bristol which is ranked 51st in the world and fourth in the UK for research.
Most recently she has been director of internationalisation for the Faculty of Health Sciences, which is a large, research intensive faculty supporting the university’s medical, dental and veterinary schools.
[caption id="attachment_49943" align="alignright" width="208"] Prof Becky Whay[/caption]
Under Prof Whay’s directorship the faculty has grown its international student population, increased the levels of international research collaboration and seen significant growth in international institutional partnerships.
At the same time, she has shared the head of school responsibilities for Bristol Veterinary School and led the school through a period of substantial change culminating in a recent high profile, ongoing bid for American Veterinary Medical Association accreditation.
Prof Whay has an international reputation for her research into dairy cattle and working equine welfare and works in areas of the world where human animal interdependency is critical to family livelihoods.
She was the inaugural president of the International Society for the Study of Lameness in Ruminants and has chaired the Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association. In 2015, she was recipient of the CEVA Farm Animal Welfare of the Year award.
Following a successful nine-year tenure in various management roles in Unilever, John Concannon returned to Galway as CEO of Ireland West Tourism in 2004. He led the merger of the regional tourism authorities in 2006 in the role of director of regional development for Fáilte Ireland, and following this he took up the role of director of market development with the National Tourism Development Authority.
In 2014 he was appointed director of the 'Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme', the largest cultural initiative undertaken in the history of the state, and subsequently led the development of the 'Creative Ireland' programme, to mainstream culture and creativity across public life.
Following this, Concannon was appointed as director of strategic communications at the Department of the Taoiseach. He is currently employed as assistant secretary general in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in the role of director general of 'Global Ireland', an initiative designed to double Ireland’s international footprint by 2025, which includes the campaign for Ireland to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
[caption id="attachment_49944" align="alignright" width="300"] John Concannon[/caption]
Concannon has served as chairman of Cope Galway (charity for homelessness domestic violence, and elderly support) for eight years, served as chairman of Gaisce – The President’s Award for six years, is former chairman of the Galway Age Friendly Initiative, a co-creator of Ashoka Ireland's ChangeNation, and was a director of ChangeX.org social enterprise. He is currently a board member of Connacht Rugby.
A graduate of NUI Galway, Concannon was selected as Irish 'Marketer of the Year' in 2011 for his work marketing Ireland, and was nominated again in 2013 as the creator of 'The Gathering'.
Dr Michelle Millar
Dr Michelle Millar (main image) has taught in the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway since September 1998. Teaching policy and public administration to undergraduate arts, public and social policy and nursing and midwifery students and postgraduate community development, family support and social work students, she was awarded the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2017.
Dr Millar has provided programme leadership at undergraduate and postgraduate level since 1998, developed new programmes and served as the chair of the School Teaching and Learning Committee 2014-18.
In January 2018 she was appointed head of School of Political Science and Sociology. Dr Millar is a senior research fellow at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and has acted as principal investigator on several funded research projects, the most recent an IRC Social Protection Research Innovation Award.
Her research interest focuses on social inclusion and parenting specifically those parenting alone which led her to being called as an expert witness to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection.