Fears for STEM at Maynooth

On Monday I reported that Maynooth has selected a new President in the form of Professor Eeva Leinonen who is currently Vice Chancellor at Murdoch University in Australia. I was initially pleased to see the announcement, but news is coming out now that is filling me and my colleagues in STEM subjects with a sense of alarm.

According to this article Professor Eeva Leinonen effectively shut down all STEM subjects as separate disciplines at Murdoch University, removing the status of researchers from staff in these areas (i.e. putting them all on teaching-only positions) and turning all their teaching into support activities for other disciplines. As a consequence of this Murdoch University no longer awards degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For further information see here.

Since this news has come out I have been filled with dread that the new President will do the same here in Maynooth where the Faculty of Science & Engineering is already smaller than those of Arts and Social Sciences.

The incoming President does not take up her role until October 1st but in the meantime I hope she will clarify what her intentions are so that the perception of her being anti-science does not cast a shadow over recruitment of students and staff here.

I therefore call upon Professor Eeva Leinonen to make a public statement on her plans for STEM subjects at Maynooth.

5 Responses to “Fears for STEM at Maynooth”

  1. Pat O'Connor Says:

    Over at least the past 20 years all Presidents of Irish universities have come from what could be broadly defined as a STEMM background- engineering, science, mathematics or medicine. This has left those of us outside this area in a potentially problematic and devalued position. That position has been reinforced by the strength and institutional legitimacy of SFI as a lobbyist for ‘hard’ science in contrast to e.g. the situation in Germany where Wissenschaft includes all disciplines. It is interesting that any change in this hegemony is seen as problematic. Of course there is also the minor detail that the 429 year old male dominance of the Presidencies of Irish universities is being broken…
    These are changing times: maybe that needs to be recognised.

    • telescoper Says:

      Interesting comment. Professor Leinonen has a background in Psychology which is generally taken to be a science subject, at least it is in Maynooth where it is part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

      The problem with the appointment is not with this, nor with the new President’s gender, but with the fact that at her current institution she essentially eliminated all science subjects from the curriculum.

      These are the points I made in the above post. I recommend that you try reading it.

      P.S. I note further that the President of the University of Limerick, your institution, is also female and is from an Arts background.

  2. Greg Foley Says:

    Murdoch’s “stem everywhere” nonsense, and the notion that disciplines are no longer “fit for purpose” in the 21st century will take hold here and not just in Maynooth. It’s happening already.

  3. […] With the departure of Professor Philip Nolan (whose last day at Maynooth is today) there will soon be a new regime in place at the University. Nobody knows what changes will take place, but there will undoubtedly be some and there are reasons for being nervous about what they will bring to STEM disciplines. […]

  4. The HEA will make tertiary (and above) sector policy. University Presidents will shaft STEM at their peril! We are all concerned about the future of the University but I’m not too worried that STEM will be shut down anywhere, anytime soon.

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