Board Members and Biographies
Mr Michael Horgan was appointed Chair of the HEA in July 2016. He is also outgoing chairman of the Health and Safety Authority. He is former Chief Executive of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Michael, 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 and Honorary Fellowship of RCSI. He chairs the Fintech/Global Payments company TransferMate and is a non-executive director of Intuition Ltd and a number of other boards. He was previously a board member of the Rotunda Hospital, of Beaumont Hospital and a member of the Senate of the National University of Ireland.
Mr Tony Donohue is Policy Advisor with Ibec, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation. Following a career in business journalism, he has worked with the Confederation for over 30 years in a number of roles including publications editor, head of research and information services, and head of education and social policy. He is chair of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and the board of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). Ibec is the national voice of Irish business and employers, and is the umbrella body for Ireland’s leading business sector groups and associations.
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.
Professor Orla Feely is Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact and a Professor of Electronic Engineering at University College Dublin. She holds a BE degree from University College Dublin and MS and PhD degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, where her PhD thesis won the DJ Sakrison Memorial Prize for outstanding and innovative research. While at UC Berkeley, she also won the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. She leads a research group in nonlinear circuits and has been awarded research grants and prizes from a number of national, international and industry sources
Professor Feely is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), Engineers Ireland and the Irish Academy of Engineering. She has served as Chair of the Irish Research Council and of the IEEE Technical Committee on Nonlinear Circuits and Systems, and as a member of a number of Editorial Boards. She is a director of the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.
Professor Feely is Chair of the EU Horizon 2020 Advisory Group on Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions and is also a member of the Higher Education Authority.
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.
Clare Austick (she/her) is President of the Union of Students in Ireland for the academic year 2021-2022. She is the former USI Vice President for Welfare. Clare is from Galway and studied Science, specialising in Chemistry, at NUI Galway. She is driven by a desire to help and support others and is fully dedicated to leading the national student movement, ensuring the student voice is heard, listened to and well-represented
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 CEO of SKHL, an Irish firm addressing global climate change. He is a Private Sector Member of the Irish Government’s Export Trade Council since 2011 (Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade); and 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 Lynn Ramsey is Programme Manager for the West North West Higher Education Cluster and Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator at Letterkenny Institute of Technology. She holds a Masters in Education, specialising in Management and Leadership, from Trinity College Dublin and a PhD from the University of Glasgow. She has wide experience of management, teaching and research in higher education institutions in Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Her work focuses on the strategic development of teaching and learning and co-ordination of national policy across higher education institutions. She has published widely in the area of EU law and her current research focuses on leadership and policy in higher education. She is an associate of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.
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.
Dr Bahram Bekhradnia became the first Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute on its creation on 1 November 2002. HEPI is an independent think tank concerned with higher education policy, and has achieved an international reputation for rigorous and objective research and analysis, advising governments in 25 different countries, and international agencies. As a result, HEPI is now one of the most widely referenced and influential independent bodies concerned with higher education policy.
Dr Jim Mountjoy founded Euristix, an innovative supplier of advanced network management software solutions for the telecommunications industry. Euristix became a market leader and was sold to Fore Systems for US $80 million in February 1999, a value that increased to US$175 million in two months when Fore Systems was acquired by Marconi. Dr Mountjoy is also a co-founder of Baltimore Technologies. He is currently involved as an investor and in a non-executive capacity with a number of technology companies. He previously was a Deputy Chair of SFI was a Board member of the Abbey Theatre and of Barnardo.
Dr Deirdre Lillis is a proven senior executive and academic leader with twenty five years experience in Irish and international higher education. She is the Director of the Convene Enterprise Academy at TU Dublin and has a track record of ground-breaking university-enterprise engagement; sustained innovation in professionally-oriented curriculum reform at doctoral, postgraduate and undergraduate levels; in blended and flexible delivery methods; interdisciplinary and industry-oriented research; in integrated and comprehensive internationalisation strategies and in leading European projects. With multi-disciplinary educational qualifications including a PhD in Strategic Management, an MSc in Computer Science and a Diploma in Company Direction, she undertakes research in strategic management, global entrepreneurial talent management and university-enterprise engagement. As principal investigator, she has secured European funding in highly competitive schemes including four funded projects as lead co-ordinator since 2015. She is a member of the Senate of the National University of Ireland and has served on the Board of the Irish Writers centre.
Ronan Lyons is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Trinity College Dublin, where his research focuses on urban economics, in particular the evolution of housing markets over the long-run. His doctorate at Oxford was on Ireland’s Celtic Tiger housing market bubble. Previously, Ronan worked as an economist for IBM and for Ireland’s National Competitiveness Council. He is a frequent contributor to national and international media on Irish housing and the broader economy and he is also the author of the quarterly Daft.ie Reports on the Irish housing market and a weekly column on the housing market in the Sunday Independent.
Members are appointed by the Government in accordance with S. 3 & 4 of the Schedule to the HEA Act, 1971.
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 – The Audit Committee’s primary function is to assist the Authority fulfil its oversight responsibilities. It does this by reviewing the financial information provided in the HEA audited accounts; employing established systems of internal financial controls and risk management; and the internal audit function.
Finance and Governance – The main role of the Committee is to review and recommend to the Authority, the proposed recurrent and access grant allocations to the Universities, Institutes of Technology and other bodies funded by the Authority, along with funding allocations under a number of additional programmes including performance funding.
Pension Appeals – This Committee was established in 2012 to exercise a statutory function assigned to the HEA namely to consider pension appeals submitted by University staff under schedule 5 of the Universities Act. The decision of HEA on such appeals is given with the consent of the Ministers for Education & Science and Public Expenditure & Reform.
Policy and Planning – The role of the Committee is to provide objective analysis and advice across higher education issues, identifying important policy and leadership issues in higher education – both immediate and long-term – in Ireland and internationally. In undertaking this policy analysis the Committee’s objective is to improve higher education in Ireland, and enhance public accountability, by creating a better informed policy environment, and by developing practical responses to the strategic issues facing leaders of higher education institutions and public agencies.
Research and Graduate Education – The purpose of this Committee is to ensure policy coherence between the HEA and the Irish Research Council, prepare draft policy statement and advice on aspects of research and graduate education, oversee and report to the Authority and Council on implementation of research and graduate education policy by the higher education system and constituent institutions and review relevant policy initiatives submitted by the Authority or Council.
System Development and Performance Management – This Committee was established in 2012 with the mandate of assisting the Board in overseeing the creation and development of a co-ordinated system of higher education institutions, each with clear, diversified missions and with a strong focus on outcomes and funding for performance.