Cathaoirleach welcomes ‘new education dawn’ for Athlone and Midlands region

Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, Cllr Frankie Keena, has welcomed a ‘new education dawn’ for Athlone and the Midlands region following the formal unveiling of the Technological University of the Shannon Midlands Midwest (TUS ) during a ceremony hosted in the AIT international Sports Arena.

“Friday October 1 2021 will forever be in the history books as the date that the TUS was unveiled. The President of TUS Professor Vincent Cunnane, Chair of the TUS Governing Body, Josephine Feehily, and Students Union President, Aine Daly, were joined by Minister Niall Collins during the ceremony.

Wishing Professor Vincent Cunnane every success in his role as President of TUS, Cllr Keena noted that there was a marvellous atmosphere on the Athlone campus during the unveiling ceremony with all those present looking forward with great enthusiasm to furthering their studies in a university environment.

“The 1,200 staff currently working on the numerous campuses which TUS incorporates are very excited to be now working in a university setting, the 14,000 student population are ecstatic by the thought of graduating with a university qualification and the wider community and business sectors throughout the Midlands region welcome the fact that this development will generate an extra €420m per year into the economy.

“This TU status will now be of great support to both the IDA and Enterprise Ireland in driving development and investment across the region as it will further strengthen its competitiveness, attract foreign direct investment and create employment for its pool of graduates.

The Cathaoirleach also took time to reflect upon the contribution of Professor Ciaran O’Cathain to the development of Athlone Institute of Technology.

“As we celebrate and embrace this marvellous good news story it is so important to reflect on how we got here and to acknowledge the endless work put in by a fantastic team of people ably led by Professor Ciaran O’Cathain.

“Ciaran has worked diligently for 22 years on this campus enhancing its prominence to ultimate Technological University status. His commitment, dedication, work ethic and love for the campus has delivered on his vision for Athlone’s third level educational needs. His achievements in providing a state of the art sports arena, hospitality campus, nursing campus and engineering block, to name a few, has opened up the doors for numerous extra high level educational opportunities for students ranging from level 7 to PhDs in these respective fields.

“These legacies do not stop here as Ciaran has spearheaded plans for a new MIRC building on campus which, when constructed, will add significantly to the suite of excellent courses already available. An overall masterplan for the future development of the campus has also been executed. Supporting Ciaran on all this work was a marvellous academic team and various Governing Bodies over the years. I had the honour to sit on the recently dissolved AIT Governing Body which was expertly chaired by Liam Rattigan.

“Ciaran boasted a warm personality and his openness to randomly stop and chat with students about their studies and future ambitions was clearly evident during his time on campus. Amazingly, in most cases he knew a lot of the students on a first name basis and this was one of Ciaran’s numerous attributes and I wish him well with his future endeavours,” Cllr Keena concluded.


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