Today, 15 December 2021, was a bittersweet day for the National Forum as we wished our Director, Dr Terry Maguire, farewell as she begins her retirement. Terry came to the National Forum with extensive experience in educational leadership in Ireland and the UK and has since had an undeniably positive impact on the Irish higher education community.
Since her appointment to the role in 2013, Terry worked in partnership with everyone across the sector to build evidence, develop frameworks, provide guidance, foster collaboration and establish structures and processes that now form the backbone of teaching and learning in Ireland. While there were many landmark achievements along the way, it was Terry’s ethos and approach that were her most important gifts. Always believing that it is better for a thousand people to take a few steps forward together than for a few people to take great strides alone, her approach to enhancement was admired and emulated both at home and abroad.
Many students will have experienced directly, and thousands upon thousands indirectly, her unwavering belief and enactment of the centrality of students in higher education. They will have enjoyed the results of her efforts to raise the profile of the student voice, to ensure there was always a seat at the table for students and to reinforce that students be treated as full partners.
The sector as a whole will know Terry as approachable, intelligent, creative and indefatigable. They will recognise and acknowledge her commitment and absolute engagement, her openness, diligence and focus. Some colleagues may not be as aware of her kindness, her sense of humour and mischief, and her mile-wide vein of generosity.
As members of the National Forum teams, past and present, we are thrilled to have learned so much from working in the National Forum with Terry at the helm. We know she has an uncanny instinct for nudging you beyond your comfort zone but never into danger. We have been stretched and supported, exhausted and elated, prudent and courageous. We have never been bored. We believed every minute that the work was necessary, important and urgent. We feel privileged to have worked with Terry and to have enjoyed directly the glow of her optimism, drive and dedication.
On her retirement, as plans are in train to establish the National Forum on a sustainable basis from 2022, we thank Terry for everything from the bottom of our hearts. We know that she will be involved in other projects over the coming years and hope our paths will cross again.
Until then, we’ll be reminded of her in the words of her favourite author, Charles Dickens –
‘Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.’