Board Members and Biographies
Michael Horgan was appointed Chair of the HEA in July 2016 for a five year term. This appointment was extended in 2021 to facilitate the enactment of the new HEA Bill. Upon commencement of the HEA Act (2022), the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science appointed Michael for a further period of two years to July 2024. Michael was formerly chairman of the Health and Safety Authority (2010-2016) and Chief Executive of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He holds a BSc in Computer Science, and an MA from the University of Dublin (Trinity College) and a Masters in Industrial Engineering from UCD and is a Chartered Director.
He was awarded a number of honorary degrees, including a DSc from the University of Massachusetts (USA) and Honorary Fellowship of the RCSI.
He has been Chairman and non-executive director of InterPay, trading as TransferMate Global Payments, since its foundation in 2010. TransferMate is a regulated (Central Bank of Ireland) fintech payments company based in Ireland but with offices throughout the world. Michael is also a non-executive Director of Mountain Productions Ltd. In July 2022 he joined and was elected Chair of Uversity, a charity established by Mr Dermot Desmond to fund mature students complete a university degree. He is a member of the Audit and Risk Committee of the Data Protection Commission and on the Advisory Board of Intuition Ltd (an eLearning and Knowledge Management company).
He served on the Boards of a number of healthcare organizations, including as a member of Beaumont Hospital Board, the Dental Hospital Board and as Governor and Honorary Secretary of the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin. He was also a member of the Senate of the National University of Ireland and a member of the Board of Governors of Penang Medical College, Malaysia and RCSI Medical University Bahrain.
In 2006, Michael was awarded the Order of Bahrain First Class, by HRH King Hamed of Bahrain.
Mr Tony Donohoe is former head of education and social policy in Ibec, the business representative organisation. Following a career in business journalism, he worked in Ibec for over 35 years in a number of roles including publications editor, head of research and information services, and policy advisor. He is chair of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and vice-chair of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). Tony has served on a number of boards and advisory committees including the National Economic and Social Council, the Pensions Commission, the Apprenticeship Council, the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland and the Equality Authority. He is a University of London graduate and holds a masters in leadership studies from the University of Exeter.
Dr Judith Eaton has been president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) since 1997. CHEA is a nongovernmental institutional membership organization of degree-granting colleges and universities that provides national coordination of institutional and programmatic accreditation throughout the United States. CHEA , through its International Quality Group, also engages international quality issues and challenges, working with colleagues in quality assurance and higher education around the world. Dr. Eaton has also served as a college president and state chancellor and writes widely on higher education, accreditation and quality assurance.
Dr Sharon Feeney is Head of Learning Development, College of Business, Technological University, Dublin (City Campus). Dr Feeney has worked in the higher education sector since 1991 in numerous roles, including quality assurance; lecturer, and most recently as Head of Learning Development.
She has a BSc (Hons) in Psychology; an MSc (Hons) in Work and Organisational Psychology and a Doctorate from The University of Sheffield. Her doctoral thesis examined the origins and processes of institutional level quality reviews in Irish higher education institutions. Her current research interests focus on higher education policy at the institutional, national and international levels, with particular emphasis on quality systems, programme and institutional evaluation, and qualifications and awards frameworks. She is involved in research projects that focus on learning and teaching methods in higher education, higher education institution mergers, organisation design, and studies of elite formation in higher education.
Chris Clifford is President of the Union of Students in Ireland for the academic year 2023-2024. Chris graduated with a B.Sc. in Health and Leisure with Athletic Performance in 2020 and went on to spend three years working in ITT/MTUKSU. He served one term as Education Officer and two terms as President. Chris is primarily focused on increasing engagement between students and USI, and between students and their local Students’ Unions. Chris believes this is the key foundation on which USI will achieve its mission. Chris plans to advocate for a radical overhaul of the higher education system into one that has the needs and development of students as its main priority.
Ms Darina Kneafsey has 25 years’ experience in senior leadership positions within international companies including Digital Equipment and Intel. She held the position of Chief Operating Officer at Trinity College Dublin for a number of years. Darina also works with a number of both start-ups and established organisations across several sectors and technologies. She is a chartered Engineer with an Engineering degree from University College Dublin, a post graduate Diploma in System Analysis from NUI Galway. Darina holds a MBA from Trinity College Dublin.
Prof. Sinéad O’Flanagan combines her academic expertise and corporate experience in her work on leadership practices and education. Her current research work explores how leaders learn in settings where disruption and uncertainty prevail. She uses her expertise in systems-thinking and experiential-based learning, partnering with public and private organizations, NGOs and city governments worldwide to design leadership fieldwork projects and internships. Previously based in Silicon Valley CA., and London UK, Prof. O’Flanagan held executive management positions and worked as a consultant in guiding companies through major organizational change and restructuring initiatives.
Mr Pól Ó Móráin is a co-founder and CEO of Carbon Collect, an Irish firm addressing global climate change. He served for ten years from 2011 as a Private Sector Member of the Irish Government’s Export Trade Council (Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade). Pól is a member of the International Advisory Board at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China.
Pól was previously Co-Chair of the Irish International Business Network (IIBN) and Deputy Chair of the International Advisory Board at the University of Bradford Faculty of Management and Law. Earlier he was ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ at Xerox Venture Lab working across Xerox’s Research in PARC, Grenoble (France) and Cambridge (Britain). Primarily focused on commercialising Xerox’s IP, supporting and advising portfolio companies while also working closely with colleagues to evaluate new investment opportunities.
Pól holds patents in machine learning and information processing acquired by Intel Corporation in 2012. He is an Alumnus of University of Bradford (MBA), Lancaster University (Business Analysis) and Toulouse Business School.
Dr John Wall is currently Head of the School of Lifelong Learning and Education in WIT. He has worked in WIT since 1994 in the Schools’ of Engineering and Lifelong Learning and Education. Prior to this he worked in the construction industry both in the UK and Ireland.
Members are appointed by the Minister for Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science in accordance with Section 16 of the HEA Act 2022.
Framework for a Code of Business Conduct
The Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies required that each state body should have a written code of business conduct for members and employees. This code sets out the agreed standard of principle and practice which will inform the conduct of members of the Higher Education Authority, its Committees and Task Forces. Members are expected to voluntarily comply with this written code.
HEA Standing Committees
- Audit & Risk– The Audit & Risk Committee has been established by the Authority to support them in ensuring that there are effective internal controls, governance and risk management arrangements in place in the HEA.
- Finance– The main role of the Committee is to advise and make recommendations to the Authority in relation to financial matters and the allocation and oversight of funding having regard to policy priorities set by the Authority.
- Student Engagement & Teaching and Learning– this Committee has been appointed by the Authority to advise and make recommendations concerning student engagement and teaching and learning development in the HE sector, having regard to policy priorities set by the Authority.