KPMG, Community Foundation Ireland and Professor Noel O’Connor Win DCU Leadership Awards for 2023-24

KPMG and DCU’s many anonymous donors, as represented by Community Foundation Ireland, were announced as the winners of the DCU Corporate Leadership and Individual Leadership Awards for 2023-24 at DCU Educational Trust’s annual Leadership Circle Dinner on 1 February. Professor Noel O’Connor, CEO of Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics and Full Professor in Electronic Engineering, was also presented with the DCU Staff Leadership Award at the event, which took place in The Helix on DCU’s Glasnevin Campus.

The annual DCU Educational Trust Leadership Circle Dinner brings together DCU’s leading friends and supporters to celebrate their collective contribution to DCU’s mission to transform lives and societies. Over 200 attendees gathered in The Helix as the event MC, broadcaster Colette Fitzpatrick, narrated a programme that showcased how philanthropy is enabling DCU to address societal issues ranging from climate change to paralysis treatment.

The impact of DCU’s supporters was strongly felt on the evening, particularly in an inspiring interview with Dr David Dowling, a DCU Access graduate who described the importance of the scholarship support he received in enabling him to plan for the future and become a global leader in vaccine development. His team in Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School has developed the world’s most affordable Covid-19 vaccine, which has immunised over 150 million people in the developing world to date.

In a memorable panel discussion, attendees also heard from Ronan Langan, DCU Exoskeleton Programme Clinical Lead, and programme participants Jack Kavanagh and Chloe Greene, who discussed how the programme’s transformative research is impacting their lives and shaping the future of paralysis treatment.

Speaking at the event, Eamonn Quinn, Chair of DCU Educational Trust told DCU’s supporters:

“Since DCU was first established, our philanthropic partners have made a lasting mark on our campuses, in the lives of our students and have opened doors to new possibilities in research. Tonight, we gather to celebrate you, and to bring your transformative impact to life.”


At the event, the Corporate Leadership Award was presented to leading provider of professional services KPMG, in recognition of their generous philanthropic support over many years. For over four decades, KPMG has been a strong supporter of accounting education at DCU, and in 2022, KPMG deepened this support through a new strategic partnership with DCU Business School. Underpinned by philanthropy, this partnership is advancing the Business School’s mission to educate leaders for the global marketplace.

Accepting the award on behalf of KPMG, Managing Partner Seamus Hand said:

“I am delighted to accept the Corporate Leadership Award on behalf of KPMG. We are very proud of our relationship with DCU, stretching back over four decades, supporting the University in its mission to transform lives and society and recently cemented with our new strategic partnership signed in 2022. At KPMG, we really believe in the power of education and the critical role it plays in society and for business – both today and in the future. This is reflected in our business strategy but also in our corporate citizenship programme, both of which are supported by our partnership with DCU. We are honoured to be recognised with this award and look forward to continuing to work closely with DCU.”


The Individual Leadership Award was awarded in recognition of the many anonymous donors who are a driving force behind DCU’s mission to transform lives and societies. The award was accepted by Community Foundation Ireland, a philanthropic hub that supports anonymous donors to transform lives and societies. MC Colette Fitzpatrick noted that anonymous donors have made a transformative impact on the University, backing projects that would not be possible without their unseen support.

Accepting the award on behalf of anonymous donors, Denise Charlton, CEO of Community Foundation Ireland, told the audience that:

In the DCU Educational Trust we have a partner which not only shares our equality mission but is truly a change-maker. Our donors have provided 46 grants to the University totalling almost €1.5 million since 2007. Together we are delivering access programmes opening up education, training and opportunity to so many people. We are championing global issues such as access to clean water. While a pioneering project which has not only captured our imagination but has been highlighted by the Government in the first ever National Policy on Philanthropy is the development of exoskeleton suits, which allow people to walk again. This is truly philanthropy in action, delivering equality and transforming lives.”


The Staff Leadership Award was presented to Professor Noel O’Connor, CEO of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics and a Full Professor in Electronic Engineering. This award recognises DCU staff members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership to advance DCU’s mission to transform lives and societies. As leader of Insight, Noel has built many industry and social partnerships that harness the power of AI, machine learning, and data analytics to build a better, healthier future. In the area of philanthropy too, Noel has demonstrated exemplary leadership and a talent for building partnerships that drive innovation, research and inclusion. Speaking as he accepted his award, Prof O’Connor said:

“DCU’s mission is to transform lives and society, and the work of the Educational Trust is central to achieving that goal. I’m honoured to receive this award in recognition of contributing towards this, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Trust into the future on more impactful and transformative initiatives.”


The evening’s programme also included beautiful music by Rebecca Kelly, whose PhD scholarship in choral studies is funded by DCU supporters.

Watch the video to see highlights from the event and hear more from our awardees.

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