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AIB pledges €1.25m to fund First Chair of Sustainable Business in Ireland at University College Cork

Interim President Professor John O’Halloran with AIB CEO and alumnus Dr Colin Hunt announcing the AIB Chair in Sustainable Business. Image courtesy of UCC

AIB has announced a partnership with UCC which will see the bank fund The AIB Chair of Sustainable Business, the first of its kind in Ireland.

AIB has pledged €1.25 million over five years to support the objectives of The AIB Chair of Sustainable Business, which will be based in the Cork University Business School (CUBS), Ireland’s largest business school.

The funding will also support The AIB Sustainable Business Scholars programme which will be established for early career researchers who excel in their field.

The establishment of the Chair comes at a time of expected increased demand from employers for graduates with a broad knowledge and understanding of sustainable business practices.

Colin Hunt, AIB Chief Executive Officer, said:

“AIB has put sustainability at the heart of our strategy. We are aligned with UCC’s vision to educate and guide business leaders who can balance environmental, social and governance goals with the ambition of delivering sustainable profits.

Managing climate change is the most important challenge facing this generation, and the role of businesses in supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy is pivotal. I firmly believe that we must not hand this planet on to our children in a worse condition than it was handed to us. Green lending is proving to be the fastest growing part of our loan book and has also proven the most resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic underscoring that sustainability is also smart business,’’ he added.

Speaking about the donation Professor John O’Halloran, Interim President, UCC said:

“A decade ago we charted a course to be a world leading university in the area of sustainability. We must inspire the leaders who can shape our future for the better and at UCC we are driving research that assists our transition to a low carbon economy. We are incredibly grateful to AIB for this generous gift which will facilitate the development and empowerment of future leaders in sustainability through the university’s research, teaching and learning activities. This partnership strengthens our objective of creating a sustainability culture that is student-led, research-informed, and practice-focused”.

University College Cork aims to deliver a world-class business school experience, having recently announced it would invest €110 million in a new business campus located in the heart of Cork city centre. The school is committed to creating responsible business leaders for a sustainable future and delivering a pipeline of talent on a local, national and international level.

UCC is ranked as an international leader in the area of sustainability and the Chair will support UCC’s strategy of enabling the next generation of responsible business leaders and accelerating world-leading environmental research in Ireland.

Professor Ursula Kilkelly, Head of the College of Business and Law, UCC stated:

“This collaboration supports our ambition to grow the College of Business and Law in line with the university’s strategic objectives. It links education and research in an impactful way that addresses both business and societal needs.”

An international recruitment process will commence for the Chair who will drive innovative research in the field of sustainability, develop sector leading new post-graduate programmes in sustainable business and who will work together with business seeking to drive sustainability across their organisation.

Professor Thia Hennessy, Dean, Cork University Business School commented:

“At Cork University Business School our teaching is informed by cutting-edge research conducted by our faculty on smart, sustainable and resilient business that will protect our planet and deliver a better quality of life for all. This gift from AIB will be transformative in allowing us to embed sustainability further in our teaching and research”.

The partnership with AIB demonstrates the impact of corporate philanthropy in enabling the university to advance its sustainability goals, while enhancing the student experience and improving graduate employability prospects.

Alan Deasy, Head of Development, College of Business and Law, UCC said:

“This collaboration demonstrates how corporate philanthropy can affect significant educational, social and economic change. The alignment of UCC and AIB’s visions for Sustainable Business have found the perfect ecosystem in which to flourish. The university’s thought leadership combined with the corporate context and experience of our partners, can create a powerful outcome”.

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