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. Mr Justice George Birmingham, President of the Court of Appeal.

The current Chancellor is Dr Mary McAleese, the second woman to hold this prestigious office since the University was established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. Dr McAleese was the first President of Ireland from Northern Ireland. She served in that office from 1997 to 2011.