Role of the Chancellor

For most practical purposes, Trinity College and the University of Dublin may be regarded as one and the same institution. However, degrees are awarded by the University of Dublin, not Trinity College, and this is the main instance when the roles of the two bodies diverge. This extends back to the historic roots of the College, which was modelled on the multi-college system operating in universities such as Cambridge and Oxford.

The Chancellor is the Head of the University and presides at meetings of the University Senate, including important ceremonial occasions such as commencement ceremonies, when degrees of the University of Dublin are awarded.

The Chancellor also officiates at honorary degree ceremonies when the University awards degrees to individuals of integrity and exceptional achievement who have made outstanding contributions to scholarship, society, culture and/or civil society.

The Chancellor is also one of the two Visitors who hear appeals against decisions of the College Board and interpret the College Statutes. Traditionally, the Visitors have carried out “Visitations” and have been involved in many of the great controversies in the history of the College. The other Visitor is currently The Hon. Dr Justice Maureen Harding Clark, formerly of the High Court.

The current Chancellor is Dr Mary Robinson, the first woman to hold this prestigious office since the University was established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. Dr Robinson was also the first woman President of Ireland (1990-1997), was United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), and is currently United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change.