Dot writes: the election of the provost was really quite exciting. First, it was fun to spend time with my colleagues not working but drinking tea, gossiping, and periodically dropping colour-coded pieces of paper into boxes (actually I did absent myself for a little bit to read an article; I thought I owed it to Ken to do some work since he was minding the children for a sixth day in the week). Second, the votes generated a certain suspense. We aren’t allowed to reveal anything about the numbers of votes or the order in which the candidates were eliminated, which is a bit frustrating because I would love to relive the fun by telling all here: suffice it to say that it kept us interested. Thirdly, I almost missed it altogether. I left in good time, cycled to the DART at Dun Laoghaire to give the Duchess* a run, and was almost at Pearse station when I realised that I’d left my staff card behind. I rang Ken, who was in the shower at the time, and he heroically flung the boys into the car and drove into town to deliver it. We met near the Dental Hospital at five minutes to ten and I sprinted across campus and made it to the dining hall just before the doors were closed. If I’d not thought to check my purse when I was still on the train – or if my phone had run out of juice before I managed to call Ken rather than shortly after – or if Hugh had made his usual fuss about dressing – or if Ken had been delayed a minute or two longer by the traffic he encountered at the RDS – it could all have been so different. I would have been under something of a cloud, especially as Ken missed out on a Philosophy reading party this weekend so I could go and vote.
And the result is that our new provost is Professor Patrick Prendergast, as reported in the Irish Times. As usual when the papers report anything to do with academia I am faintly irritated by the coverage: this report and the one today in the Sunday Business Post both make reference to the fact that UCD is ‘gaining ground’ on TCD since it has made it into the world top 100 and that the new provost must seek to reverse this trend. That’s fine insofar as it means fighting to restore the college’s right to hire and promote staff (staff-student ratios and reputation of staff make a big difference to international rankings), but there is slightly the implication that Paddy Prendergast should now be leading us on dawn raids to tip parts of the UCD library into their campus lake. Naive creature that I am, I think it’s a good thing if Dublin can have two world-class universities. But Trinity is better, of course.