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Update from Provost to staff and students

12 March 2021

Dear students and colleagues,

This day last year I emailed the college community to say we would have to close many activities and move teaching online in a bid to play our part in curbing the spread of COVID-19. With some small reprieves we have been in a continuous state of lockdown since then, something few of us could have foreseen at the time. 

The last 12 months will stay with us all, for the rest of our lives. We will remember loved ones who suffered and some who died. We will remember how we were impacted ourselves and hopefully we will remember how resilient we were in the face of this unprecedented challenge. 

I think we can be proud of how our University has weathered this storm, and continues to do so. Students have shown great fortitude and understanding of the restraints imposed by the pandemic, both on learning opportunities and on social engagement. I’m grateful to colleagues in all faculties who have continued necessary face-to-face teaching, and maintained research and scholarship, and those in Estates and Facilities who have kept the college open, our lab technicians who have enabled essential teaching, the catering staff who have fed us, the College Health Centre staff who have treated countless students and conducted countless tests, the wardens who have kept students safe, staff in the Library and Student Counselling, and colleagues in so many roles, some working on campus almost every day since the pandemic. I’m equally grateful to colleagues who have stayed at home and taught or researched or administered services from the kitchen table, sitting room or home office, often balanced with simultaneously home schooling their children. Everybody has had a role to play to keep Trinity moving.

On behalf of all, I express our gratitude to the students and staff who have worked tirelessly in hospitals and other health settings to help keep the health services operational in this crisis. Well done to all of you.

We have all learned that a remarkable amount can be done online. It is also fair to say that we have also learned that online has its limitations. I’m sorry for those who have had to graduate virtually; I know you have missed a valuable event in your lives. I salute those who have joined the college as a student or member of staff but have yet to set foot on the campus. I look forward to meeting you in Front Square and elsewhere in the months ahead.

The good news is that there is, finally, an end in sight. There are plenty of reasons to believe that next semester will be closer to normal. How close remains to be seen but I think we can allow ourselves more reason to hope than at any time since this day last year.

There have been many lessons from this pandemic. For me, the biggest lesson has been the concrete reminder that Trinity is a living community in the strongest and simplest sense of that word – we rely on each other, we support each other and we care for each other. I hope you will take a minute today to think back on your personal journey over the past 12 months and reflect that, despite everything that has happened, we are as strong as we have ever been.

Thank you for your resilience, flexibility and understanding throughout the year. 

Kind regards,

Patrick Prendergast