The President of one of Ireland’s top technology institutions will become the new Vice-Chancellor of Glyndŵr University Wrexham.
After 11 years at the helm of the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), Dr Maria Hinfelaar joins the North Wales University on April 1, replacing interim Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Upton.
Dr Hinfelaar joined LIT in 2004 and during her time has overseen a major period of expansion and innovation.
The 56-year-old says she is “delighted” to be joining Glyndŵr at such an “exciting” time in its short history, with a five-year strategy recently unveiled and proposals to double student numbers by 2020.
“I am absolutely delighted to be appointed the next Vice-Chancellor at Glyndŵr University,” said Dr Hinfelaar.
“I can see tremendous potential for the University at the heart of north east Wales, which is a region undergoing interesting development.
“Glyndŵr offers a wide diversity of programmes and has some really exciting niches.
“Personally, having spent the last 11 years leading a similar institution in the mid-west of Ireland, I have discovered first-hand how crucially important universities are to their area.
“I look forward to joining Glyndŵr University and getting to know the staff, students and wider stakeholders.”
A Netherlands native, Dr Hinfelaar was a student at The Leiden University and holds a PhD from the University of Maastricht – ranked in the top 10 of THE’s global list of universities under 50 years old.
She has overseen significant development at LIT, which was named Institute of Technology of the Year 2008/09 and 2012/13 in the prestigious Sunday Times University Guide. It is now the fourth largest Institute of Technology (IoT) in Ireland with 6500 full time and part time students and over 500 staff. LIT has built up a strong enterprise incubation and R&D profile, which Dr Hinfelaar is keen to ‘export’ to Wales.
Maxine Penlington OBE – who was unveiled as chair of Glyndŵr University’s Board of Governors earlier this month – believes Dr Hinfelaar’s appointment will ensure further growth at the institution.
“I am absolutely thrilled that Dr Maria Hinfelaar will be joining us next year to lead Glyndŵr into the next exciting phase of its development, building on the very strong foundations laid by Professor Upton and the management team,” she said.
“Maria comes to us with an excellent track record of institutional leadership and of business and regional engagement and I am confident that she will be an asset both to the University and to the community of north east Wales.”
Professor Upton, who plans to step down on March 31, added: “This is an excellent appointment and shows what an exciting proposition Glyndŵr University will be for students moving forward.
“The institution has huge potential and Dr Hinfelaar recognises that. Her vision matches that of the University – to become bigger, stronger and bolder – so the future looks very bright indeed.”
Reflecting on his own time at the university, Professor Upton said: “It has been a challenging year but one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
“The staff have worked incredibly hard to turn a corner and lay the foundations for the years ahead, which should see Glyndŵr University grow in stature as an institution the people of Wrexham and north east wales can be incredibly proud of.”
A keen cyclist, Dr Hinfelaar is also eager to explore the beautiful surroundings of North Wales and will be moving to the area together with her husband Graham next March.