The recipient of the inaugural SETU Vicky Phelan Equality Diversity & Inclusion Award 2023 has been announced at a special ceremony held at SETU on Thursday, 15 June.

The EDI Office received a tremendous response to a call for nominations with many wonderful nominees. Dr Cara Daly, Science Lecturer and Programme Director for the BSc in Horticulture, has been recognised as this year's deserving recipient. 

Dr Daly has made significant contributions to the university community over the past 10 years, and she is responsible for the development and coordination of the BSc. in Horticulture Degree Programme.  

Additionally, Dr Daly played a crucial role as one of the founding members of the SETU LGBT+ staff network. The network provides a safe and supportive space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other individuals within the university. 

Her commitment to inclusivity is further evident through her work and leadership in the development of SETU's recently approved Gender Identity and Expression Policy. Cara also serves as a member of the EDI committee, which provides guidance to the governing body on policy matters associated with equality, diversity, and inclusion.  

The award was presented to Dr Daly by SETU President, Professor Veronica Campbell, at a special ceremony, attended by Vicky’s parents. 

Prof Campbell said, “The SETU Vicky Phelan Equality Diversity and Inclusion Award is an annual award made to the SETU staff member or student, who is judged to have made the greatest contribution to equality, diversity and inclusion in the university community through their leadership, work, involvement or engagement with EDI related projects, initiatives or organisation.  

“We received an incredible response across our university community to our call for nominations for this award, highlighting the amazing staff and student community we have at our university, and really reflecting the values of equality, diversity and inclusion which we hold dear, and no one more so amongst us than this year’s awardee, Dr Cara Daly. 

“Cara was nominated for this award by her colleagues and chosen as the winner by the selection panel for the significant contributions she has made to equality, diversity and inclusion at SETU over the past year, and in particular, her critical contribution to LGBT+ equality across SETU. She is a visible and brave leader for LGBT+ rights in our university, inspiring staff and students alike, and highly deserving of this honour.” 

Honoured to receive the award, Dr Daly said, “In accepting this award it is essential for us to acknowledge the indomitable spirit of Vicky Phelan, whose bravery and unwavering commitment to justice have inspired countless people in Ireland and beyond. Vicky’s legacy serves as a reminder that one person’s courage can lead to profound systemic change. 

“I stand before you as a proud advocate for EDI in SETU and in the wider communities we serve. EDI is an ongoing journey – one that requires continuous effort, education and empathy. I firmly believe that together, we can build a university community where every individual is valued, regardless of any characteristic that makes them unique. We need a university community that goes beyond mere tolerance, but instead, celebrates the richness of our diversity. So, let’s keep working to ensure no voice goes unheard, no talent goes untapped, no individual feels excluded. I accept this beautiful award with great humility and a renewed commitment to the ideals it represents.” 

Dr Daly's exceptional leadership and bravery in advancing EDI, particularly in fostering LGBT+ inclusion and addressing discrimination, have made her a deserving winner of the inaugural Vicky Phelan EDI award at SETU.