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Enhancing academic currency by the ‘Visiting Lecturer’ programme

Author - Tadhg Walshe


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Education and training for industry

The building industry is still a male bastion, and so the late Dr Anthony Clare came here in 2000 and spoke about ‘Masculinity in Crisis’ and how the shrinking male sexuality might impact on this industry.

The very much alive Frank McDonald made many contributions to large audiences in Bolton Street from the early ‘The Destruction of Dublin: The Construction of Dublin’ to his recent talk on property developers in ‘The Builders’ which highlighted milestones impacting on our infrastructure.

We need to be constantly reminded of what Niamh Brennan had to say in her eloquent and forceful presentation to an overflowing theatre of students (and some staff) on what constitutes good governance in business and in the public service.

For 25 years – without fail – Kevin Kelly and Tom Costello (bosses of John Sisk and one of our larger graduate employers) presented to students and staff on construction contracting in Ireland and abroad. These presentations and notes continue to influence the direction of my lecture programme in Construction Administration and Management.

Structural engineer John O’Conner (Sinead’s and Joe’s father) – one of my earliest annual ‘speakers’ discussed the roles of the professional and the administrator and the responsibilities and liabilities flowing these various roles.

Architect and author David Keane – a regular contributor in the 1980s and 1990s – explained the architect’s roles in a building contract and the very wide powers of the architect even through not being a party to the contract. During this time he was writing what became the influential book The RIAI Contracts: A Working Guide.

The presentations by the inimitable scholarly lawyer Max Abrahamson throughout the 1990s were annual highlights. He presented on forms of contract to large audiences for 12 years and responded to their many queries. I remember his response to the question ‘Why are written contracts not short and simple?’ with the statement that ‘One should make things as simple as possible but no simpler’!

As regards the ‘Education Market’, Fergal Quinn’s presentation influenced my thinking (and that of others) with his response to the question: ‘Who are DIT’s customers’?

These customers – the students themselves – consistently gave very high ratings to Jim Horan, Head of Architecture on his interesting ‘subjects’ and delivery style.

Without the insights gained from the visiting lecturers I would not have been equipped – indeed it is unlikely that I would be asked – to chair the national Task Force on ‘Education Training and Recruitment’ for the Forum for the Construction Industry. This task force (and others) was charged with implementing the Recommendations of the Strategic Review of the Construction Industry and was completed early in this decade.

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