Commenting at the launch of the campaign, Dr Ó Muircheartaigh said "We have facilities in this University that are in urgent need of investment and we require €250million to deliver on this development plan. NUI Galway is committed to delivering one-fifth of this investment from its own fundraising programme. Fundraising is not intended as a replacement for public funding but to provide seed capital for new areas of research and teaching and to make an often vital contribution toward major buildings and facilities," he said.
Dr Ó Muircheartaigh also spoke about the need to remind people about the important role of philanthropy as an agent for change. "We have a job to do in Ireland to educate this generation to the benefits of philanthropy. We still lag behind the United States and other European countries in terms of our overall giving. In terms of this campaign, we are encouraging people to consider the private gain that comes from education and are in turn, urging them to give something back."
The €250million development plan for NUI Galway is based on extensive consultation with faculty members and feedback from corporate and community partners. It includes major new buildings for engineering, business and law, as well as new research centres and student facilities. "This ambitious capital development plan can only be realised with financial support from Government and other sources", said Ó Muircheartaigh.
New academic programmes to be funded include fine arts, film, music and a radical new initiative to provide recognition for student voluntarism. One of the major aims is to develop the Irish language centres in Gweedore, Carraroe and Carna.
The People & Place Campaign will be led by Galway University Foundation (GUF) and will constitute an ongoing high profile outreach to graduates, friends and supporters worldwide. John McNamara, Chairman of GUF, said that a great deal of work had gone into planning the campaign and he was confident a strong team and mechanisms were in place to achieve the €50million goal. He extended an invitation to all who share an affection for Galway and who believe in a strong and vibrant University in the West of Ireland, to become involved in as meaningful a way as possible. Pledges and commitments totalling €27million, raised in the pre-launch phase of the campaign, were announced.
Mr Gerry Hanley, Chairperson of the Alumni Association, said that graduates would be delighted to see the University drive forward in this way, as much of the physical infrastructure is in need of upgrading and investment. He invited the more than 50,000 graduates worldwide to participate themselves as donors.
Tony McDonnell, President of the Students Union said that he was proud that the students (nearly 14,000 in total) had given their backing by endorsing in a recent referendum the payment of a levy which would help provide a key element of the financing for the new sports and cultural facilities.
Further information is available on www.nuigalway.ie/foundation