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Gerry McKenna

LLD Honoris Causa

Queen's University Belfast

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Queen's University Belfast

Ashby Building Stranmillis Road

Belfast, Belfast,BT9 5AG

United Kingdom

Company Description

Queen's Sport offer a wide range of Clinical services which cater for not only Performance Athletes but also those of you who do not compete at all, but may be keen to know your current fitness levels. We also cater for Sporting and non Sporting injuries. To...more

Background Information

Employment History

Chartered Biologist

Society of Biology


Chair of the Management Board

Independent Advisory Groups


Honouree

Flax Trust Co


Coleraine Business Person of the Year

Coleraine Borough Council


DSc Honoris Causa

NUI Galway


President Emeritus and Honorary Executive Secretary

HUCBMS


Founding Chair

Universities Ireland


Affiliations

The Marble Project

International Advisory Board


Quality Assurance Agency

Member


The Royal Irish Academy

Member


University of Kufa

Member, International Advisory Board


Heads of Biology

Member, Executive Committee


North-South Committee and Council-nominated Members Committee

Member


Institute of Biomedical Science

Fellow


Royal Society of Biology

Fellow


RSA Corp

Fellow


Radiography

Member, Editorial Board


Royal Irish Academy Council Nominations Committee

Member


Buckingham Palace

Deputy Lieutenant for County Londonderry


Fordham University

Honorary Doctor


Ulster University

Professor Emeritus, Biological and Biomedical Sciences


e-Universities UK

Board Member


British Journal of Biomedical Science and Radiography

Member, Editorial Board


The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Regional Dental Advisor


University of Ulster's

Professor Emeritus


Northern Ireland Science Park

Co-Founder


Sports Institute Northern Ireland

Founder


University College Cork

Clinical Fellow and Specialist Trainee In Restorative Dentistry


Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine

Board Member


Ulster Cancer Foundation

Vice Chairman


Other Studies

Member


MLT

Member


Council of the Institute of Biomedical Science

Member


University Challenge Ltd.

Founding Board Member


Web References(165 Total References)


Professor P. G. (Gerry) McKenna

www.gerrymckenna.co.uk [cached]

Professor Gerry McKenna is an internationally recognised and highly respected biomedical scientist.
A former Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Ulster (UU),he was a key progenitor and implementer of the University's transition from a local, relatively parochial, university into one with a strong national and international reputation. He achieved this through his vision that whilst the University must serve and drive the economic, social and cultural needs of the local population and region, it could only achieve its goals through also participating in, and where possible exceeding, the attainments of internationally outstanding universities elsewhere. This was best exemplified through his development of his own subject, biomedical sciences, from a zero base at UU to becoming the leading UK centre for teaching and research in this area; his exceptional record in taught programme innovation; and his development of a selective research strategy for the University which culminated in Ulster being one of only 20 UK universities having two of the highest rated, 5*, departments in the 2001 periodic UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and its follow-through to having 3 departments ranked in the top 3 in the UK in the subsequent 2008 RAE - a feat matched also by only 20 other universities. In parallel with this, he was a central figure in developing a vision of knowledge transfer in Northern Ireland which culminated in the development of the Northern Ireland Science Park to facilitate the development of spin-out companies from Ulster and Queen's University Belfast (QUB). Background Gerry McKenna was born on 10 December 1953 into a farming family in the townland of Lisbanlemneigh situated between Benburb and The Moy, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He was the youngest of five children. Gerry McKenna married Phil McArdle in 1976. They have two sons, Gerald and James. McKenna was mentored by the founding professor of biology at NUU, the distinguished ecologist Amyan Macfadyen, and quickly established himself as an innovator in both course design and research. Remarkably for one so young and inexperienced, he designed the programme, wrote the course document, conducted the various negotiations with government, the professional body (the Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences, later the Institute of Biomedical Science), the state registration body (Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine), the Northern Ireland Health department, and the local profession, leading to the introduction of the honours degree programme in Medical Laboratory Sciences (later retitled Biomedical Sciences) at NUU in 1980. University of Ulster McKenna, like many others at NUU, was shocked at the outcome of the Northern Ireland government-sponsored report by Sir Henry Chilver into higher education in Northern Ireland in 1982. McKenna thus began his inexorable drive to ensure that the new institution and, in particular those parts with which he was associated, would ascend to a recognised level of academic respectability. The University of Ulster came into being formally in October 1984. Vision and Strategy McKenna was clear in his vision that a university worthy of the title must contribute to knowledge as well as imparting it. Fiercely committed to his country and region, he believed that the future for Northern Ireland lay in high technology developments based on a strong university sector innovative in taught programmes and research; a belief reinforced strongly through many visits to the United States, particularly to North Carolina and Georgia, where he also observed the commitment of some leading universities to knowledge transfer, including support for science parks, university spin-out companies and licensing deals based on university-led scientific discoveries. He felt strongly that Northern Ireland must embrace these concepts if it was to progress from civil strife to becoming the vibrant knowledge-based economy which he felt was both possible and attainable. In holding these views, he was a relatively lone but increasingly prominent voice within UU. The Path Travelled McKenna's apparently smooth progress within UU belies the many hurdles he overcame in his upward transition. His innovative achievements were exceptional in the face of much internal opposition from those opposed to change and its associated challenges. He established in 1985 the first Masters programme in medical laboratory sciences/biomedical sciences in the UK. He revised this in 1997 to replace the professional Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) 2-part Fellowship programme with the concurrent result that Northern Ireland became the first region in the UK to have all-graduate entry to the biomedical science profession. He also initiated the development of nutrition and dietetics training in Northern Ireland, establishing, in 1987, the BSc (Hons) programme in human nutrition. In 1989, he led the transfer of radiography education from the, then, local schools of radiography into the University, thus establishing the first approved radiography degree programme in the UK. He did not rest on his laurels; in the early 1990s, he established optometry and clinical sciences degree programmes and, towards the end of the decade, the highly innovative and interdisciplinary Master of Research (MRes) programme. He also established a number of professional doctorate programmes. In all of these endeavours he was supported by a number of like-minded colleagues who shared his ambitious view of what was possible and attainable. The Research Agenda Parallel with his achievements in taught programme development, McKenna was firmly convinced that the University of Ulster must establish a strong research base. A highly talented and internationally recognised researcher with over 200 scientific publications and 25 PhD supervisions (7 of whom progressed to full professorships in universities in the UK, US, Canada, Iraq and Hong Kong), he established a major reputation for research in the areas of DNA repair and mutagenesis. Most significantly, he built determinedly, in a relatively short period, a research empire in biomedical sciences covering a number of areas including human nutrition (leading inter alia to the formation of the highly successful Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance; IUNA), cancer biology and ageing, molecular and cellular biology, diabetes, vision science and bioinformatics, which has endured. He founded, in 1985, the Biomedical Sciences Research Centre and was its first Director. At that time the fledgling University of Ulster was having to come to terms with the reality of being a university within a national academic environment that associated university status with having a respectable research base. McKenna relished this challenge, working assiduously with successive Pro Vice Chancellors with responsibility for research to develop a research strategy for the University. He was a committed adherent to Wilhelm von Humboldt's early 19th century vision of a university based on the unity of research and teaching, upholding the ideal of research without restrictions and providing a comprehensive education for its students. Ironically, for one who had an unparalleled record in developing taught programmes, his name became synonymous with research developments. McKenna, while also holding the position of Dean of the highly successful Faculty of Science, was indefatigable in promoting the research agenda, including developing a highly selective research strategy, recognising that areas and individuals with genuine research talent must be nurtured and supported meaningfully and sensitively. This involved the appointment of research coordinators for each selectively supported research subject area, with whom he worked closely to implement, at subject level, his vision and strategy for research in the University. In effect McKenna, with Gibson's support, removed responsibility for the management of research and research funding from Deans and Heads of Departments/Schools; allocating the funds directly through the Units of Assessment. This was a radical departure from previous practice. The fact that it was accepted with only limited resistance reflected both McKenna's strength of personality and argument and a lack of interest in or knowledge of research among most university managers at that time. In the effort to develop a research culture, McKenna was resolute in insisting that the University should only appoint and promote individuals on the basis of talent and performance. McKenna believed strongly that research students were the life blood of research, particularly in the sciences and engineering and that they should be afforded increased status and support in the University. Accordingly he put in place rigorous monitoring processes for research student progress and established training programmes inter alia: in project planning, relevant research techniques, public presentation of data and results, and university teaching. His efforts produced dramatic results; increasing externally funded studentship numbers and shifting Ulster's previously moderate record for research degree completions to one of the highest in the UK. He also oversaw the introduction of a number of professional doctorates in vocational areas. In support of his belief in the importance of research students and research support staff to the University's overall research performance, he established a research graduate school in each faculty and supported strongly the introduction of the UK Research Concordat to assist the development and career enhancement of research staff. Meanwhile his own research area, biomedical sciences, flourished. It combined the talents of previously unsung researchers supplemented with exceptionally talented individuals recruited selectively from elsewhere. McKenna allowed their talents to blossom within a highly supportive, focussed and strategic framework. By 1996, Biomedical Sciences at Ulster had attained the remarkable, and highest, 5* rating in the periodic Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). This meant that it was the top-rated biomedical department for research in the UK; a position it retained through successive RAEs in 2001 and 2008. By the middle of the first decade of the current Century it had become the largest and highest rated research unit in any subject area in Northern Ireland. McKenna led by example; in 2001 he was the only serving vice chancellor in any subject in the UK to be included in a 5* submission. It would be difficult to overestimate the impact that the achievement of a 5* RAE rating in 1996 had on UU, its staff and its external image. Suddenly it had leapfrogged from being an essentially regional university to one which commanded international respect. This encouraged academics in other areas, selectively supported at UU by McKenna, to believe that they too could attain the highest reaches of academia. It was a hugely transformative event in the evolution and history of the University of Ulster and for higher education in Northern Ireland. Although coming from a science background, McKenna was hugely supportive of the social sciences and humanities. He brought focus and performance measures to these previously uncoordinated areas while demonstrating sensitivity to the particular needs and constraints of each discipline which won respect across the University. As an example he recognised the latent talent within the University's School of Art and Design and worked to support and nurture it into one of the leading art schools in the UK. Equally, he supported, selectively, activities in Celtic Studies such that it also moved to the top of UK rankings for research (5*), and attained an 'excellence' score for teaching. (At this point UU was home to two out of only three 5* rated departments in Northern Ireland). McKenna was particularly adept at identifying research leaders and in providing them with the tools to succeed. In a relatively short time period, he was able to mastermind the University's development into a highly respectable middle-ranking university with a number of genuinely international research strengths (by 2008 UU housed 6 of the 11 departments in Northern Ireland ranked in the top quartile for RAE research performance in the UK). In 2004 he established a number of research institutes in areas of research strength thus reinforcing the policy of research selectivity which he had pioneered in the early 1990s. he growth in research activity at UU is exemplified by the upward shift in externally funded research grants from £5.4 million in 1997-98, when McKenna took over as Pro Vice Chancellor (Research), to a peak of £43.9 million in 2002-03 during his period as Vice Chancellor. During this time he moved the university up the research rankings to 27th place in the UK in terms of 'research power' and to 20th position in QR (Quality Research) block grant funding. Equally striking was his personal support and mentoring of individually distinguished researchers such that in the 10 years following his election to Membership of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), Ireland's most senior academic body, the number of UU Members increased,from a modest base, by more than 6-fold. Knowledge Transfer McKenna was a pioneer in Northern Ireland in promoting knowledge transfer. He established in 1997 UUTECH Ltd, a university company designed to facilitate the exploitation of intellectual property generated from university research. This led to a number of spin-out companies being formed inter alia in biotechnology, information technology, advanced materials and nanotechnology. He established innovation centres ('incubators') on each campus to nurture them through their early stages. He was a fierce proponent of the development of science parks, again influenced by his American experiences, and was a co-founder of the Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP), established in 1999. McKenna established, with the support of NISP, science research parks at the Coleraine and Magee campuses to house companies emerging from the innovation centres. By 2005 over 20 companies employing more than 250 people were located in UU science research park facilities. McKenna chaired the Northern Ireland Foresight: Life and Health Technologies panel, which was sponsored by the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in association with the Northern Ireland Growth Challenge. McKenna was responsible for many innovations as Vice Chancellor of UU. He reorganised the senior management structure, asserting the primacy of academics in academic and research planning. This included the establishment of a Department of Quality Assurance and Enhancement under a Pro Vice Chancellor which resulted in the University emerging from a prolonged period of relative mediocrity in terms of assessment by the national Quality Assurance Agency to achieving 'excellence' ratings routinely (13 out of 15) across a wide range of subject areas. He also reorganised the faculty structures on academic lines, bringing the health professional areas together with biomedical sciences into a faculty of Life and Health Sciences; enhancing the University's commitment to the social sciences through the establishment of a Social Sciences faculty; exploiting the potential synergy between the University's schools of the Built Environment and Art and Design through the establishment of a highly innovative architecture programme; and developing specific campus strengths and synergies through reducing inefficient duplication of subjects across more than one campus. Internationalisation McKenna internationalised the university through the development of collaborations with leading institutions in the United States, Hong Kong, China, India and Australia. As a frequent visitor to the United States (he spent a sabbatical in 1995 studying the governance, missions and operational issues at leading US universities, including the University of California at Berkeley where he was a Visiting Scholar), he was impressed by the unselfish support of influential members of local communities for their universities. He was influenced particularly by observing the development of science parks and incubation facilities to support start-up/spin-out companies based on innovations (intellectual property) generated from within universities. This led to a number of influential and enduring relationships between Northern Ireland and the US, with for example the North Carolina Biotechnology Centre and the Georgia Research Alliance, as well as collaborations with universities and companies in Boston, New York, San Francisco and Denver. As a committed internationalist who felt that his university, and Northern Ireland, had much to gain from external associations, McKenna undertook a number of international initiatives including the appointment, sponsored by the Ireland Funds, of the Nobel Peace Laureate, John Hume, to the Tip O'Neill chair in peace studies, leading to a series of lectures by international statesmen and women including President Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Romano Prodi, Bertie Ahern, Pat Cox and Senator Hillary Clinton. Despite the fiercely competitive environment which existed between UU and its most obvious competitor, the other local, and much older university, Queen's University Belfast, and defending resolutely UU's independence, McKenna recognised that there was much to be gained by both universities finding common cause in promoting key tenets of what a university constituted and what was achievable within the Northern Ireland environment. As a graduate of both UU and of QUB he was always more likely to attempt to find a shared vision with Queen's than predecessors from either university had found possible previously. In this he was fortunate in having as his counterpart the Canadian George Bain as Vice Chancellor of QUB. Bain, previously principal of the London Business School, and whose mother was a Northern Ireland native, was a highly able and relatively pragmatic vice chancellor who found, in McKenna, someone whom he respected and could work with assuredly. The shared vision that existed between UU and QUB during McKenna's tenure as Vice Chancellor at UU led to many historic and enduring achievements. These included:the reversal of the savage cuts in research funding imposed on the Northern Ireland universities in 1997; the development of the Northern Ireland Science Park (co-sponsored by McKenna and Bain); the establishment of the hugely successful US-Ireland R&D Partnership, of which McKenna was the founding Northern Ireland chair; the development of the Support Programme for University Research (SPUR), funded jointly by the Northern Ireland Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and Atlantic Philanthropies, which brought £100 million in new infrastructural research funding to the two Northern Ireland universities; the formation of the Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship (NICENT); and the establishment of Universities Ireland, bringing together, for the first time, the 9 universities on the island of Ireland in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration (with McKenna as the founding chair). McKenna has been an ardent and consistent promoter of increased collaboration between universities in both parts of Ireland and between Irish universities and their counterparts in Great Britain. He was responsible inter alia for the formation in 1993 of the highly successful Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) which brought together leading scientists at UU, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork. (IUNA now also includes University College Dublin). McKenna, as chair of Universities Ireland (UI), hosted the first joint meeting of UI and Universities UK at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin in 2004. Access and Links with Further Education As Vice Chancellor, McKenna encouraged strongly the development of closer linkages with further education; transferring all sub-degree programmes to that sector and strongly promoting the development of franchised foundation degrees (over 60 such programmes were developed during his tenure in partnership with FE colleges). In this approach he was influenced by his experience of analysing similar initiatives between universities and community colleges in the US; in 2002 he led a group of academics and representatives from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Universities UK, and the Department of Employment and Learning for Northern Ireland on a fact-finding mission to North Carolina to examine the linkages and articulation between universities and community colleges. An expansionist by nature, McKenna combined his academic vision and planning with the physical development of the UU campuses. He planned and oversaw the most significant building and refurbishment programme in the University's history. This was based on his conviction that academic vision and planning must determine physical infrastructure development and not the reverse. Most of the development was funded from external competitive sources and included: the Learning Resource Centres (Libraries) at the Magee and Jordanstown campuses; the purchase and refurbishment of the Foyle Arts Centre at Magee; the establishment of the Centre for Molecular Biosciences at Coleraine; the establishment of Science Research Parks at Coleraine and Magee; the development of Science Innovation Centres at Magee, Coleraine and Jordanstown; the establishment of the Harry Ferguson Engineering Village at Jordanstown (incorporating new centres for Fire Safety Engineering, Nanotechnology, and Sustainable Technologies together with the Northern Ireland Bioengineering Centre); the Rehabilitation Science Centre at Jordanstown; the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages (AICH) at Magee; the Transitional Justice Centre at Magee and Jordanstown, the development of the Coastal Research Centre, the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) and the Media Research Centre at Coleraine; the Intelligent Systems Centre at Magee; the Centre for Art Technologies and Design at Belfast; and the new Halls of Residence at Magee, Coleraine, and Jordanstown. McKenna won the funding necessary from government for the refurbishment of the York Street campus in Belfast. He was responsible for the expansion, in 2003, of the Jordanstown campus by nearly 50%, through the purchase of an adjacent 50 acres to allow for further development and, in 2004, for the incorporation of the Portrush-based Northern Ireland Hotel and Catering College into the University. He was also responsible for the agreement between the University and the Northern Ireland Sports Council to establish the Sports Institute for Northern Ireland (SINI) at the Jordanstown campus. Gerry McKenna was an avid and consistent supporter of the expansion of the University in the North-West. He was extremely pro-active in plans to expand the Magee campus through the potential opportunity arising from the proposed relocation of Foyle and Londonderry College, thus freeing its site adjacent to the Magee campus. In support of this he redistributed student places from Jordanstown to Magee across a number of subject areas as well as expanding greatly research and knowledge transfer activities there. Gerry McKenna has received a number of plaudits for his achievements. These have included: Membership of the Royal Irish Academy; honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland and the Queen's University of Belfast; Freedom of the Borough of Coleraine (becoming only the second individual, and the first in 25 years, to receive this honour); Coleraine Business Person of the Year; Keys to the City of Portland, Maine; Honoree of the Flax Trust, New York; Honoree of the Friends of Harvard Celtic Studies, and the award of the title President Emeritus of the Heads of University Centres of Biomedical Science (HUCBMS; which he co-founded). Principles and Values Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the resolute pursuit of his vision for UU and his uncompromising views on the role of the university, McKenna trod on a number of toes. As Vice Chancellor, he inherited a proposal that UU should embark on a shared venture with the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education to build a joint campus in West Belfast, an area particularly affected by deprivation and the impact of the Northern Ireland troubles. This would have involved the selling-off of the University's Belfast York Street campus. McKenna was opposed to the project, believing that it was poorly conceived and planned. He felt that the joint campus would result in major governance and financial problems. He believed also that the West Belfast area needed greater investment in primary, secondary and further education, rather than what he perceived to be a probably unfocussed HE/FE 'white elephant'. In recognition that the initiative was making little progress, he took the brave but politically unpopular decision in 2003 to withdraw from the project. Before doing so he went to considerable lengths to protect previously committed funding to be directed towards the development of a FE/Community College in the area. An assiduous and tireless fundraiser, who attracted unprecedented levels of philanthropic funding for the University, including over £40 million from the United States, McKenna was, above all else, a strategist who felt that the University should not be blown off course by opportunistic ventures with short-term impact but leading, inevitably, to longer-term problems. Accordingly, he declined resolutely, despite considerable pressures, a number of representations from external, and internal, interests to engage the University of Ulster in activities and schemes which he felt were academically and financially unjustified and unsound, and would prejudice the aims and objects of the University. These included repeated attempts during 2003 and 2004 to persuade him to close the highly successful and expandable Jordanstown campus of UU and to transfer its activities into Belfast. McKenna dismissed the proposal as essentially a property development-driven scheme which was devoid of academic merit or rationale, unaffordable, and would shift permanently the University's balance of commitment away from the North West. The proposal was resurrected after his retirement. McKenna has been a major contributor to many public and voluntary sector initiatives including chairing a number of influential committees throughout the UK, Ireland and overseas. Locally, he was for a number of years Vice Chair of the Ulster Cancer Foundation. Retirement A tough and determined but fair leader, McKenna stepped down as Vice Chancellor in 2005 following anonymous criticisms by some senior colleagues of his management style. This was accompanied by an orchestrated and scurrilous media campaign. Gerry McKenna's life represents a sustained and consistent commitment to public service. He has repeatedly developed far-reaching innovations in teaching, research and knowledge transfer processes and attained goals which most of his peers deemed unreachable. He remains highly active in academic circles, particularly through the Heads of University Centres of Biomedical Science (HUCBMS), of which he is President Emeritus and Honorary Executive Secretary, and the Royal Irish Academy of which he was elected Vice President in 2017. He advises and provides consultancy support to a number of institutions throughout the UK and overseas on research strategy, business planning, biotechnology and programme development. He continues to work with local charities and to publish articles on a range of topics including: research policy, knowledge transfer, university funding and institutional ethics.


Professor P. G. (Gerry) McKenna

www.gerrymckenna.co.uk [cached]

Professor Gerry McKenna is an internationally recognised and highly respected biomedical scientist.
A former Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Ulster (UU),he was a key progenitor and implementer of the University's transition from a local, relatively parochial, university into one with a strong national and international reputation. He achieved this through his vision that whilst the University must serve and drive the economic, social and cultural needs of the local population and region, it could only achieve its goals through also participating in, and where possible exceeding, the attainments of internationally outstanding universities elsewhere. This was best exemplified through his development of his own subject, biomedical sciences, from a zero base at UU to becoming the leading UK centre for teaching and research in this area; his exceptional record in taught programme innovation; and his development of a selective research strategy for the University which culminated in Ulster being one of only 20 UK universities having two of the highest rated, 5*, departments in the 2001 periodic UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and its follow-through to having 3 departments ranked in the top 3 in the UK in the subsequent 2008 RAE - a feat matched also by only 20 other universities. In parallel with this, he was a central figure in developing a vision of knowledge transfer in Northern Ireland which culminated in the development of the Northern Ireland Science Park to facilitate the development of spin-out companies from Ulster and Queen's University Belfast (QUB). Background Gerry McKenna was born on 10 December 1953 into a farming family in the townland of Lisbanlemneigh situated between Benburb and The Moy, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He was the youngest of five children. Gerry McKenna married Phil McArdle in 1976. They have two sons, Gerald and James. McKenna was mentored by the founding professor of biology at NUU, the distinguished ecologist Amyan Macfadyen, and quickly established himself as an innovator in both course design and research. Remarkably for one so young and inexperienced, he designed the programme, wrote the course document, conducted the various negotiations with government, the professional body (the Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences, later the Institute of Biomedical Science), the state registration body (Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine), the Northern Ireland Health department, and the local profession, leading to the introduction of the honours degree programme in Medical Laboratory Sciences (later retitled Biomedical Sciences) at NUU in 1980. University of Ulster McKenna, like many others at NUU, was shocked at the outcome of the Northern Ireland government-sponsored report by Sir Henry Chilver into higher education in Northern Ireland in 1982. McKenna thus began his inexorable drive to ensure that the new institution and, in particular those parts with which he was associated, would ascend to a recognised level of academic respectability. The University of Ulster came into being formally in October 1984. Vision and Strategy McKenna was clear in his vision that a university worthy of the title must contribute to knowledge as well as imparting it. Fiercely committed to his country and region, he believed that the future for Northern Ireland lay in high technology developments based on a strong university sector innovative in taught programmes and research; a belief reinforced strongly through many visits to the United States, particularly to North Carolina and Georgia, where he also observed the commitment of some leading universities to knowledge transfer, including support for science parks, university spin-out companies and licensing deals based on university-led scientific discoveries. He felt strongly that Northern Ireland must embrace these concepts if it was to progress from civil strife to becoming the vibrant knowledge-based economy which he felt was both possible and attainable. In holding these views, he was a relatively lone but increasingly prominent voice within UU. The Path Travelled McKenna's apparently smooth progress within UU belies the many hurdles he overcame in his upward transition. His innovative achievements were exceptional in the face of much internal opposition from those opposed to change and its associated challenges. He established in 1985 the first Masters programme in medical laboratory sciences/biomedical sciences in the UK. He revised this in 1997 to replace the professional Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) 2-part Fellowship programme with the concurrent result that Northern Ireland became the first region in the UK to have all-graduate entry to the biomedical science profession. He also initiated the development of nutrition and dietetics training in Northern Ireland, establishing, in 1987, the BSc (Hons) programme in human nutrition. In 1989, he led the transfer of radiography education from the, then, local schools of radiography into the University, thus establishing the first approved radiography degree programme in the UK. He did not rest on his laurels; in the early 1990s, he established optometry and clinical sciences degree programmes and, towards the end of the decade, the highly innovative and interdisciplinary Master of Research (MRes) programme. He also established a number of professional doctorate programmes. In all of these endeavours he was supported by a number of like-minded colleagues who shared his ambitious view of what was possible and attainable. The Research Agenda Parallel with his achievements in taught programme development, McKenna was firmly convinced that the University of Ulster must establish a strong research base. A highly talented and internationally recognised researcher with over 200 scientific publications and 25 PhD supervisions (7 of whom progressed to full professorships in universities in the UK, US, Canada, Iraq and Hong Kong), he established a major reputation for research in the areas of DNA repair and mutagenesis. Most significantly, he built determinedly, in a relatively short period, a research empire in biomedical sciences covering a number of areas including human nutrition (leading inter alia to the formation of the highly successful Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance; IUNA), cancer biology and ageing, molecular and cellular biology, diabetes, vision science and bioinformatics, which has endured. He founded, in 1985, the Biomedical Sciences Research Centre and was its first Director. At that time the fledgling University of Ulster was having to come to terms with the reality of being a university within a national academic environment that associated university status with having a respectable research base. McKenna relished this challenge, working assiduously with successive Pro Vice Chancellors with responsibility for research to develop a research strategy for the University. He was a committed adherent to Wilhelm von Humboldt's early 19th century vision of a university based on the unity of research and teaching, upholding the ideal of research without restrictions and providing a comprehensive education for its students. Ironically, for one who had an unparalleled record in developing taught programmes, his name became synonymous with research developments. McKenna, while also holding the position of Dean of the highly successful Faculty of Science, was indefatigable in promoting the research agenda, including developing a highly selective research strategy, recognising that areas and individuals with genuine research talent must be nurtured and supported meaningfully and sensitively. This involved the appointment of research coordinators for each selectively supported research subject area, with whom he worked closely to implement, at subject level, his vision and strategy for research in the University. In effect McKenna, with Gibson's support, removed responsibility for the management of research and research funding from Deans and Heads of Departments/Schools; allocating the funds directly through the Units of Assessment. This was a radical departure from previous practice. The fact that it was accepted with only limited resistance reflected both McKenna's strength of personality and argument and a lack of interest in or knowledge of research among most university managers at that time. In the effort to develop a research culture, McKenna was resolute in insisting that the University should only appoint and promote individuals on the basis of talent and performance. McKenna believed strongly that research students were the life blood of research, particularly in the sciences and engineering and that they should be afforded increased status and support in the University. Accordingly he put in place rigorous monitoring processes for research student progress and established training programmes inter alia: in project planning, relevant research techniques, public presentation of data and results, and university teaching. His efforts produced dramatic results; increasing externally


Professor P. G. (Gerry) McKenna

www.gerrymckenna.co.uk [cached]

Professor Gerry McKenna is an internationally recognised and highly respected biomedical scientist.
A former Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Ulster (UU),he was a key progenitor and implementer of the University's transition from a local, relatively parochial, university into one with a strong national and international reputation. He achieved this through his vision that whilst the University must serve and drive the economic, social and cultural needs of the local population and region, it could only achieve its goals through also participating in, and where possible exceeding, the attainments of internationally outstanding universities elsewhere. This was best exemplified through his development of his own subject, biomedical sciences, from a zero base at UU to becoming the leading UK centre for teaching and research in this area; his exceptional record in taught programme innovation; and his development of a selective research strategy for the University which culminated in Ulster being one of only 20 UK universities having two of the highest rated, 5*, departments in the 2001 periodic UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and its follow-through to having 3 departments ranked in the top 3 in the UK in the subsequent 2008 RAE - a feat matched also by only 20 other universities. In parallel with this, he was a central figure in developing a vision of knowledge transfer in Northern Ireland which culminated in the development of the Northern Ireland Science Park to facilitate the development of spin-out companies from Ulster and Queen's University Belfast (QUB). Background Gerry McKenna was born on 10 December 1953 into a farming family in the townland of Lisbanlemneigh near The Moy, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He was the youngest of five children. Gerry McKenna married Phil McArdle in 1976. They have two sons, Gerald and James. McKenna was mentored by the founding professor of biology at NUU, the distinguished ecologist Amyan Macfadyen, and quickly established himself as an innovator in both course design and research. Remarkably for one so young and inexperienced, he designed the programme, wrote the course document, conducted the various negotiations with government, the professional body (the Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences, later the Institute of Biomedical Science), the state registration body (Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine), the Northern Ireland Health department, and the local profession, leading to the introduction of the honours degree programme in Medical Laboratory Sciences (later retitled Biomedical Sciences) at NUU in 1980. University of Ulster McKenna, like many others at NUU, was shocked at the outcome of the Northern Ireland government-sponsored report by Sir Henry Chilver into higher education in Northern Ireland in 1982. McKenna thus began his inexorable drive to ensure that the new institution and, in particular those parts with which he was associated, would ascend to a recognised level of academic respectability. The University of Ulster came into being formally in October 1984. Vision and Strategy McKenna was clear in his vision that a university worthy of the title must contribute to knowledge as well as imparting it. Fiercely committed to his country and region, he believed that the future for Northern Ireland lay in high technology developments based on a strong university sector innovative in taught programmes and research; a belief reinforced strongly through many visits to the United States, particularly to North Carolina and Georgia, where he also observed the commitment of some leading universities to knowledge transfer, including support for science parks, university spin-out companies and licensing deals based on university-led scientific discoveries. He felt strongly that Northern Ireland must embrace these concepts if it was to progress from civil strife to becoming the vibrant knowledge-based economy which he felt was both possible and attainable. In holding these views, he was a relatively lone but increasingly prominent voice within UU. The Path Travelled McKenna's apparently smooth progress within UU belies the many hurdles he overcame in his upward transition. His innovative achievements were exceptional in the face of much internal opposition from those opposed to change and its associated challenges. He established in 1985 the first Masters programme in medical laboratory sciences/biomedical sciences in the UK. He revised this in 1997 to replace the professional Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) 2-part Fellowship programme with the concurrent result that Northern Ireland became the first region in the UK to have all-graduate entry to the biomedical science profession. He also initiated the development of dietetics training in Northern Ireland, establishing, in 1987, the BSc (Hons) programme in human nutrition. In 1989, he led the transfer of radiography education from the, then, local schools of radiography into the University, thus establishing the first approved radiography degree programme in the UK. He did not rest on his laurels; in the early 1990s, he established optometry and clinical sciences degree programmes and, towards the end of the decade, the highly innovative and interdisciplinary Master of Research (MRes) programme. He also established a number of professional doctorate programmes. In all of these endeavours he was supported by a number of like-minded colleagues who shared his ambitious view of what was possible and attainable. The Research Agenda Parallel with his achievements in taught programme development, McKenna was firmly convinced that the University of Ulster must establish a strong research base. A highly talented and internationally recognised researcher with over 200 scientific publications and 25 PhD supervisions (7 of whom progressed to full professorships in universities in the UK, US, Canada, Iraq and Hong Kong), he established a major reputation for research in the areas of DNA repair and mutagenesis. Most significantly, he built determinedly, in a relatively short period, a research empire in biomedical sciences covering a number of areas including human nutrition (leading inter alia to the formation of the highly successful Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance; IUNA), cancer biology and ageing, molecular and cellular biology, diabetes, vision science and bioinformatics, which has endured. He founded, in 1985, the Biomedical Sciences Research Centre and was its first Director. At that time the fledgling University of Ulster was having to come to terms with the reality of being a university within a national academic environment that associated university status with having a respectable research base. McKenna relished this challenge, working assiduously with successive Pro Vice Chancellors with responsibility for research to develop a research strategy for the University. He was a committed adherent to Wilhelm von Humboldt's early 19th century vision of a university based on the unity of research and teaching, upholding the ideal of research without restrictions and providing a comprehensive education for its students. Ironically, for one who had an unparalleled record in developing taught programmes, his name became synonymous with research developments. McKenna, while also holding the position of Dean of the highly successful Faculty of Science, was indefatigable in promoting the research agenda, including developing a highly selective research strategy, recognising that areas and individuals with genuine research talent must be nurtured and supported meaningfully and sensitively. This involved the appointment of research coordinators for each selectively supported research subject area, with whom he worked closely to implement, at subject level, his vision and strategy for research in the University. In the effort to develop a research culture, he was resolute in insisting that the University should only appoint and promote individuals on the basis of talent and performance. McKenna believed strongly that research students were the life blood of research, particularly in the sciences and engineering and that they should be afforded increased status and support in the University. Accordingly he put in place rigorous monitoring processes for research student progress and established training programmes inter alia: in project planning, relevant research techniques, public presentation of data and results, and university teaching. His efforts produced dramatic results; increasing externally funded studentship numbers and shifting Ulster's previously moderate record for research degree completions to one of the highest in the UK. He also oversaw the introduction of a number of professional doctorates in vocational areas. In support of his belief in the importance of research students and research support staff to the University's overall research performance, he established a research graduate school in each faculty and supported strongly the introduction of the UK Research Concordat to assist the development and caree


Professor P. G. (Gerry) McKenna

www.gerrymckenna.co.uk [cached]

Professor Gerry McKenna is an internationally recognised and highly respected biomedical scientist.
A former Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Ulster (UU),he was a key progenitor and implementer of the University's transition from a local, relatively parochial, university into one with a strong national and international reputation. He achieved this through his vision that whilst the University must serve and drive the economic, social and cultural needs of the local population and region, it could only achieve its goals through also participating in, and where possible exceeding, the attainments of internationally outstanding universities elsewhere. This was best exemplified through his development of his own subject, biomedical sciences, from a zero base at UU to becoming the leading UK centre for teaching and research in this area; his exceptional record in taught programme innovation; and his development of a selective research strategy for the University which culminated in Ulster being one of only 20 UK universities having two of the highest rated, 5*, departments in the 2001 periodic UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and its follow-through to having 3 departments ranked in the top 3 in the UK in the subsequent 2008 RAE - a feat matched also by only 20 other universities. In parallel with this, he was a central figure in developing a vision of knowledge transfer in Northern Ireland which culminated in the development of the Northern Ireland Science Park to facilitate the development of spin-out companies from Ulster and Queen's University Belfast (QUB). Background Gerry McKenna was born on 10 December 1953 into a farming family in the townland of Lisbanlemneigh near The Moy, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He attended the local primary school, St. John's, before progressing to St. Patrick's Academy in Dungannon. Always a keen biologist with a particular interest in genetics and evolution, he moved in 1972 to the, then, New University of Ulster (NUU). He graduated in biology with first class honours in 1976 before transferring to Queens University for research studies, graduating with a PhD in genetics in 1979. McKenna obtained a lectureship in human biology and genetics at NUU in 1979. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1984 in, what was by then, the University of Ulster. He was the founding Director of the Biomedical Sciences Research Centre which was established in 1985 and Professor and Head of the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences in 1988. He became the founding Dean of the newly formed Faculty of Science in 1994 before progressing to the post of Pro Vice Chancellor (Research) in 1997. Two years later, in 1999, he was appointed Vice Chancellor of the University. He was appointed President in 2000. McKenna was the first Irish-born Vice Chancellor of UU. He retired as Vice Chancellor in 2005, and as President in 2006. Gerry McKenna married Phil McArdle in 1976. They have two sons, Gerald and James. McKenna was mentored by the founding professor of biology at NUU, the distinguished ecologist Amyan Macfadyen, and quickly established himself as an innovator in both course design and research. Remarkably for one so young and inexperienced, he designed the programme, wrote the course document, conducted the various negotiations with government, the professional body (the Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences, later the Institute of Biomedical Science), the state registration body (Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine), the Northern Ireland Health department, and the local profession, leading to the introduction of the honours degree programme in Medical Laboratory Sciences (later retitled Biomedical Sciences) at NUU in 1980. University of Ulster McKenna, like many others at NUU, was shocked at the outcome of the Northern Ireland government-sponsored report by Sir Henry Chilver into higher education in Northern Ireland in 1982. McKenna thus began his inexorable drive to ensure that the new institution and, in particular those parts with which he was associated, would ascend to a recognised level of academic respectability. The University of Ulster came into being formally in October 1984. Vision and Strategy McKenna was clear in his vision that a university worthy of the title must contribute to knowledge as well as imparting it. Fiercely committed to his country and region, he believed that the future for Northern Ireland lay in high technology developments based on a strong university sector innovative in taught programmes and research; a belief reinforced strongly through many visits to the United States, particularly to North Carolina and Georgia, where he also observed the commitment of some leading universities to knowledge transfer, including support for science parks, university spin-out companies and licensing deals based on university-led scientific discoveries. He felt strongly that Northern Ireland must embrace these concepts if it was to progress from civil strife to becoming the vibrant knowledge-based economy which he felt was both possible and attainable. In holding these views, he was a relatively lone but increasingly prominent voice within UU. The Path Travelled McKenna's apparently smooth progress within UU belies the many hurdles he overcame in his upward transition. His innovative achievements were exceptional in the face of much internal opposition from those opposed to change and its associated challenges. He established in 1985 the first Masters programme in medical laboratory sciences/biomedical sciences in the UK. He revised this in 1997 to replace the professional Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) 2-part Fellowship programme with the concurrent result that Northern Ireland became the first region in the UK to have all-graduate entry to the biomedical science profession. He also initiated the development of dietetics training in Northern Ireland, establishing, in 1987, the BSc (Hons) programme in human nutrition. In 1989, he led the transfer of radiography education from the, then, local schools of radiography into the University, thus establishing the first approved radiography degree programme in the UK. He did not rest on his laurels; in the early 1990s, he established optometry and clinical sciences degree programmes and, towards the end of the decade, the highly innovative and interdisciplinary Master of Research (MRes) programme. He also established a number of professional doctorate programmes. In all of these endeavours he was supported by a number of like-minded colleagues who shared his ambitious view of what was possible and attainable. The Research Agenda Parallel with his achievements in taught programme development, McKenna was firmly convinced that the University of Ulster must establish a strong research base. A highly talented and internationally recognised researcher with over 200 scientific publications and 25 PhD supervisions (7 of whom progressed to full professorships in universities in the UK, US, Canada, Iraq and Hong Kong), he established a major reputation for research in the areas of DNA repair and mutagenesis. Most significantly, he built determinedly, in a relatively short period, a research empire in biomedical sciences covering a number of areas including human nutrition (leading inter alia to the formation of the highly successful Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance; IUNA), cancer biology and ageing, molecular and cellular biology, diabetes, vision science and bioinformatics, which has endured. He founded, in 1985, the Biomedical Sciences Research Centre and was its first Director. At that time the fledgling University of Ulster was having to come to terms with the reality of being a university within a national academic environment that associated university status with having a respectable research base. McKenna relished this challenge, working assiduously with successive Pro Vice Chancellors with responsibility for research to develop a research strategy for the University. He was a committed adherent to Wilhelm von Humboldt's early 19th century vision of a university based on the unity of research and teaching, upholding the ideal of research without restrictions and providing a comprehensive education for its students. Ironically, for one who had an unparalleled record in developing taught programmes, his name became synonymous with research developments. McKenna, while also holding the position of Dean of the highly successful Faculty of Science, was indefatigable in promoting the research agenda, including developing a highly selective research strategy, recognising that areas and individuals with genuine research talent must be nurtured and supported meaningfully and sensitively. This involved the appointment of research coordinators for each selectively supported research subject area, with whom he worked closely to implement, at subject level, his


University of Ulster - Senior Staff and Deans

www.ulst.ac.uk [cached]

Prof Gerry McKenna - Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Gerry McKenna is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ulster.He previously held the positions of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Dean of the Faculty of Science and Head of the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at the University.He is past Chair of the Heads of University Centres of Biomedical Science and of the NI Branch of the Institute of Biology.Professor McKenna chaired the Life and Health Technologies Panel of the Northern Ireland Foresight Exercise.He was a non-executive Director of the NI Regional Medical Physics Agency and is Vice-Chairman of the Ulster Cancer Foundation.He is a member of the editorial boards of the British Journal of Biomedical Science and Radiography.He was a member of the Other Studies Allied to Medicine Panel in the 1996 national Research Assessment Exercise and chaired the panel for the 2001 Exercise.He is a former member of the Council of the Institute of Biomedical Science and of the MLT Board of the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine.He is a member of the Board of e-Universities UK.Professor McKenna led the development of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ulster culminating in the award of the highest possible 5* (5 star) rating in the 1996 Research Assessment Exercise.Professor McKenna has had direct responsibility for the development of the University's research and technology transfer strategy.He is a founding member of the Board of the Northern Ireland Science Park Foundation.He was also a founding Board member of University Challenge (NI) Ltd.He is chairman of the Board of University of Ulster Science Parks Ltd and of the Board of UUTECH Ltd.Professor McKenna has published over 200 scientific papers and supervised 25 PhD graduates.He is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and holds honorary degrees from The National University of Ireland and Queen's University Belfast.He has been awarded the freedom of the Borough of Coleraine.


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