Honorary research chair named after Vicky Phelan at WIT

On International Women's Day, WIT has announced the creation of an honorary research chair named after Vicky Phelan, a tireless campaigner for women's rights.

It aims to embed the values associated with Vicky, an Honorary Fellow at WIT, with the values of the college.

The successful applicant will have access to a research grant for the period of the appointment (three years) and will conduct research into how we widen access into education, with a specific focus on women.

They will be entitled to use the title The Vicky Phelan Chair in Equality and Access to Education for the duration of the bursary. It will be awarded to a current member of staff in WIT following an internal competitive process.

Vicky Phelan portrait at WIT


The announcement comes as the WIT community gathered to acknowledge the work and achievements on International Women’s Day of their former colleague and friend, with the Vicky Phelan Portrait in situ.

Dr Helen Murphy, Head of the School of Education & Lifelong Learning in WIT making the announcement said:

We are here today to create a long lasting link between Vicky, her family and the institute. Vicky has not only provided motivation and inspiration to the community of WIT, but also to the women of Ireland and, indeed, to society at large. The Vicky Phelan Chair in Equality and Access to Education embeds values that the WIT community hold dear: strength, courage, determination, resilience, openness, leadership, wisdom, the ability to overcome adversity and a willingness to put aside one’s own personal considerations for the betterment of society.

The WIT community gathered on International Women’s Day to acknowledge Vicky’s work and achievements. In addition to a reception and viewing of the painting there were a number of speeches.


WIT staff and students in attendance were joined by members of Vicky’s family, along with Vicky’s lifelong friend David Brennan who purchased the portrait at auction. The artist, Vincent Devine spoke on the heartfelt story behind the creation of the painting, along with the President of WIT and other contributors from WIT.

The aim of the event on WIT’s main campus was to raise funds for two charities close to Vicky’s heart – the Solas Cancer Support Centre in Waterford and the Shona Project. Anyone who wishes to make a donation to either charity in Vicky’s name can do so here.

WIT has also teamed up Waterford Chamber of Commerce, Waterford Chamber Skillnet, Waterford Local Enterprise Office and Network Ireland Waterford to host a public viewing of the portrait later in the day in the Parlour Vintage Tea Rooms in Waterford. This is the final event at the Parlour, which is permanently closing its doors. More here.

About Vicky Phelan

Vicky joined WIT in 2006 to work in the Literacy Development Centre in the School of Education & Lifelong Learning. Her capabilities and leadership led to her assuming the role of Head of the Literacy Development Centre. In this role she worked with adult education practitioners, local and national stakeholder organisations such as the education and training boards, NALA and SOLAS, and the academic and administrative team at the Literacy Development Centre in WIT.

The County Kilkenny native, who has been battling cancer for a number of years, brought the CervicalCheck scandal to light in 2018 when she settled a High Court action over a misread smear test.

Vicky has since been a huge advocate for women's health rights. More here.