CORK Institute of Technology (CIT) spent almost €13,000 on events held this summer to mark the retirement of its departing president, new documents show.
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show CIT spent €12,931.55 on events to mark the retirement of Dr Brendan Murphy, who left his position as president of the institution last month.
The money spent on the retirement functions drew criticism from a senior lecturer at the CIT.
However, Cork Institute of Technology defended the spending saying Dr Murphy had a long and distinguished career both as an educator and as an administrator and the retirement dinner represented a valuable opportunity to showcase CIT.
CIT lecturer in Economics, Public Policy and Health and Social Care, Dr Tom O’Connor described the amount spent as an “extravagance” in the current climate.
“It’s common for students now to work 20-hours a week in order to pay their way through college and to pay for their €3,000 registration fees,” he told the Evening Echo.
“This amount (that was spent by CIT) is more than four times the cost to register a student.”
On June 1, CIT held a governing body retirement dinner for the president at a cost of €11,091.55, according to the FOI documents.
This figure included €4,892.58 spent on catering for the event, €3,413.20 spent on providing tables, pipe and drapes and carpet for the dinner, as well as a further €1,617.45 spent on audiovisual setup.
A further €700 was also paid to CSM Amadeus Quartet Music as well as €260.68 for caretaker overtime and €206.64 for additional cleanup costs.
CIT also spent €1,840 on catering for a separate dinner for senior staff held to mark Dr Murphy’s retirement.
The president also attended the staff long service awards, according to the FOI documents.
“The additional cost in respect of a presentation to the president to mark his retirement was €155 (photo album and bouquet of flowers),” the document states.
CIT refused to release receipts relating to these events to the Evening Echo under Section 36(1) of the Freedom of Information Act.
“The institute operates on an invoice and not receipt basis. Invoices contain details in respect of the unit price or pricing structure used by the supplier and the release of such information may negatively affect the business pursuits and competitive advantage of the supplier.”
Dr O'Connor claimed that the majority of CIT staff members had not been advised that either the governing body retirement dinner or the senior staff retirement dinner were taking place.
“Staff thought the staff long-serving awards was the end of occasions to mark his retirement, that they decided to twin the two events together,” he said.
“We weren’t aware of it (the governing body dinner) and then we saw the vestiges of it the next day (on the campus)."
He expressed shock at what he described as a vulgar and extravagant event with a "red carpet, marquee, statuettes and an ice-sculpture of a dolphin."
In a statement, CIT said: “Dr Brendan Murphy has had a long and distinguished career in Cork Institute of Technology, both as an educator and as an administrator.
“During his tenure as president, CIT has continued to develop into the nationally, and internationally, renowned institution it is today.
“On the occasion of his retirement, CIT’s Governing Body hosted an evening to acknowledge his immense contribution, and commitment, to CIT, to Cork, and to the entire Munster region. Guests on the evening included not only CIT colleagues but representatives from civic life and the business community.
“The event represented a valuable opportunity to showcase CIT to these guests who have had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the development of CIT.”