The theme of the 2008 Gala Banquet will focus on the University's commitment to and long history of sport on campus. The majority of students find their membership and/or involvement in sport significantly enhances their NUI Galway experience, with many benefits in terms of health, physical fitness, camaraderie and personal development and a useful aid in balancing the pressures of academic life.
Professor Ger Hurley, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs, NUI Galway, said, "Our intention at NUI Galway is to offer sport for all and to encourage all students to benefit from the resources which are provided on campus – facilities which are continually being improved as is evident with the development of the new Sports Centre. The emphasis placed on involving students in sport underlines the ethos of NUI Galway - that our students and their wellbeing are our primary responsibility."
Professor Hurley added, "given the theme of Gala Banquet 2008, this year we have, through the generous sponsorship of Aer Arann, added an eighth award – the Aer Arann Alumni Award for Sports Achievement and Leadership."
One of the highlights of the evening, which has established itself as a premier national event and one of the key social occasions in the West of Ireland, is the presentation of the annual Alumni Awards. These awards celebrate the life-long value of an NUI Galway education and recognise individual excellence and achievement among the University's more than 65,000 graduates worldwide.
The winners of the eight alumni awards to be presented at Gala 2008:
- Duais Hewlett Packard don Ghaeilge Gráinne Seoige, Craoltóir
- TBD Award for Engineering, IT & Mathematics John Ryan, Chairman of the Board, Macrovision Corporation
- Bank of Ireland Award for Business & Commerce Brian Joyce, Chairman, Clancourt Holdings; Director, Kingspan
- Seavite Award for Natural Science Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute
- AIB Award for Literature, Communication & the Arts Julian Gough, Novelist and Musician
- NUI Galway Award for Law, Public Service & Government Seamus Brennan, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism
- Medtronic Award for Healthcare & Medical Science Dr Frank Giles, Chief of the Division of Haematology and Medical Oncology at the San Antonio Cancer Institute
- Aer Arann Award for Sports Achievement and Leadership Joe McDonagh, Former GAA President & Champion Senior Hurler