Inauguration of Sheila Greene as Pro-Chancellor

Saloon, Provost's House

21st January 2019


Pro-Chancellors1, Visitor, Registrar, distinguished guests and colleagues,

It’s my great pleasure to welcome you this evening to the installation of Professor Sheila Greene as a Pro-Chancellor of the University of Dublin. 

Pro-Chancellors are ex officio members of the University Senate. And the Pro-Chancellors hold office in their own right. They deputise for the Chancellor in accordance with the Statutes.

For the Chancellor and Pro-Chancellors, the conferring of degrees at commencements is the primary commitment. The Chancellor is also one of the two Visitors to the College; this entails hearing cases from staff and students on all sorts of issues. Pro-Chancellors are called on to deputise in these matters for the Chancellor, as needed.

The University of Dublin is fortunate to have in these offices very eminent individuals; our Chancellor, Dr Mary Robinson, and our Pro-Chancellors: Sir Donnell Deeny, Professors Jane Grimson, David McConnell, and Sean Barrett. This evening is about adding a new name to this distinguished list.

Professor Sheila Greene needs no introduction. On the occasion of her retirement from teaching in 2011, the Irish Times wrote, I quote “The fact that we have a bigger picture of the lives of children in Ireland today is thanks in no small part to Professor Greene and the research she has led and inspired over the past two decades.” This was a reference to Sheila co-founding the Children’s Research Centre with Professor Robbie Gilligan in 1995, being appointed to the inaugural AIB Professor of Childhood Research in 2005, and serving as co-director of the national longitudinal study Growing up in Ireland, for which she also wrote the design brief, ahead of its launch in 2006.

Growing up in Ireland is one of the most significant on-going research studies being carried out in Ireland, and one with particularly high public recognition and interest. Every time the study publishes its findings there is wide press coverage.

If people now have great understanding of the importance of childhood as a research area, and strong awareness that many public policy areas – from education to employment to social welfare to housing – influence childhood then that owes much to Sheila and her pioneering work.

A graduate of this college, she completed her training as a clinical psychologist in London University and then spent four years as Head Psychologist on the Maternal and Infant Health Study attached to the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University in Massachusetts. There she worked on a children’s longitudinal study, similar to the one she would help establish here in 2006.

Returning to Trinity in 1973, she joined the Department of Psychology. Together with Maureen Gaffney, who was working for the Eastern Health Board at the time, she went on to set up the first clinical training programme for psychology students and to play a central role in the growth of the department, establishing and running postgraduate courses and supervising thirty doctoral theses. 

Besides childhood, her research interests are primarily in developmental psychology and the psychology of women. In 1988 she co-founded what was then the Centre for Women’s Studies, one of the first such centres in Ireland. To reflect the increasing diversity of its interests this centre became the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies in 1999. Since its inception it has undertaken three inter-related activities: teaching, research and community/extramural activities, and like the Centre for Childhood Research, it is strongly interdisciplinary and collaborative. Sheila has been one of the foremost promoters and initiators of interdisciplinary research in the college.  

Sheila was elected to fellowship in 1993 and has undertaken important leadership positions in the college. She was elected as Dean of Arts (Humanities) in 1992 and 1995, and in 2001 she was asked by the incoming Provost, John Hegarty, to serve as The Senior Lecturer (at that time, the Senior lecturer was effectively the chief academic officer) and was the first woman to occupy that post.

After her retirement from teaching in 2011, she continued as a member of IRCHSS and in 2012 became a member of the Board of the new Irish Research Council. She has also served on the committees of a wide number of national bodies including NORFACE, Barnardos, the National College of Ireland and the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

It must be said that while we’re proud and happy in Trinity to see Sheila lend her expertise and authority to such national bodies, we have missed her playing an official role in the college. So we’re delighted to welcome her back as the 60th Pro-Chancellor to be appointed to this role since the foundation of the College in 1592.

Trinity Pro-Chancellors serve as role models to the whole Trinity community and to society.

It’s with the greatest pleasure that I welcome someone with such an impeccable record of pioneering scholarship and public service to the Pro-Chancellorship of the University of Dublin.



Provost               In accordance with the 2010 Consolidated Statutes of Trinity College Dublin and of the University of Dublin, Professor Sheila Greene, having been nominated in accordance with Section 6(3)(b) of the Chapter on the Chancellor, was declared elected a Pro-Chancellor of the University of Dublin.In accordance with Section 2(2)(4) of the said Chapter, I now invite Professor Greene to make her statutory declaration:

Sheila Greene     I, Sheila Mary Greene solemnly declare that I shall faithfully discharge the duties prescribed for the Pro-Chancellor by the Statutes, and that I shall, so far as in me lies, promote and defend the welfare and interests of the University

Provost robes Professor Greene

Provost               Professor Greene is now admitted to the Office of Pro-Chancellor of the University of Dublin, and I invite her to address you.



1Sir Donnell Deeny, Professor David McConnell, Dr Sean Barrett present