President's bid to stay at Cork moves a step closer

March 25, 2005

The president of University College, Cork, has won the latest stage in his two-year battle to remain in office after his 65th birthday in May.

Cork's governing body voted by twenty-five to nine to allow Gerry Wrixon to remain in office, brushing aside an earlier decision of senior faculty members of the academic council, who voted against the extension. All that remains is for Professor Wrixon to obtain the formal approval of a new draft statute by the Higher Education Authority and the ministers for Finance and for Education. He will then be allowed to stay for five more years.

Approval will almost certainly spark a legal challenge. One leading internal critic is considering applying to the High Court for a judicial review. Several other staff members due to retire this year will also demand the right to remain in office after their 65th birthdays. Professor Wrixon's supporters argue that the extension is needed so that he can carry on his programme for the university. His "pro-business" reforms have met with misgivings from some of his colleagues.

Professor Wrixon is set to gross about fi6 million (£4.2 million) from the sale of a company he founded. Farran Technology detects concealed explosives and weapons at airports and public buildings without X-rays. The company is being bought for up to fi24 million by Smiths Group, the British security and aerospace giant.

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