Speech at Alumni Events in the United Arab Emirates

Emirates Jumeriah Hotels, Abu Dhabi & Dubai

06th & 07th October


Thank you, Carmen/Meghan (1),

And good evening, everyone.

It’s an enormous pleasure to be here on this visit to UAE as Provost leading Trinity team on a wide set of engagements in the Middle-East and the Gulf region. 

Wherever I go in the world, I like to meet with graduates. Trinity has 100,000 alumni, and counting, in 130 countries around the world, and there are alumni branches everywhere – from Seoul to Stockholm, from Uganda to Tel Aviv.

It’s so important for me to meet graduates, and I think it’s wonderful for you to connect with each other.

It’s great to feel this evening a sense of a Trinity community based here in Abu Dhabi/Dubai.

As well as this visit here in the UAE, my team and I have been all over the Middle-East and the Gulf Region starting last week in Ciaro, and form there to Beiruit, Kuwait, and Muscat, where we spent a wonderful three days in Oman where we visited among other universities the Military Technical College in Oman which is headed by an Irishman, Professor Eugene Coyle. We arrived in Abu Dhabi the day before yesterday from Oman and met prospective students and alumni in Abu Dhabi yesteday and today.

Currently Trinity researchers collaborate with NYU Abu Dhabi and with four other universities in UAE. We hope to build our contacts in this area and across the wider region. I would like to ask our Vice-President for Global Relations Juliette Hussey to update you further on students and partnerships in the region.

[Juliette speaks]

On all these trips, a great pleasure for me to meet Alumni. Currently 100,000 alumni in 130 countries worldwide. We have some 400 alumni here between Adu Dhabi and Dubai, and we would like your help in making contact with them.

*  *  * College Update *  *  *

In our time together this evening, I’d like to fill you in briefly on how Trinity is doing. We’ve all come together through memories of our college years. As friends and alumni, you have a strong interest in Trinity’s future. As Provost, I feel a responsibility towards staff and students, and towards you, our alumni, to ensure that the university, which means so much to all of us, continues on its path of excellence.

Times are exciting for Trinity at the moment. Some recent highlights are:

  • Membership of LERU, the league of European Research Universities … …
  • New Business School … …
  • No 1 for educating entrepreneurs, PitchBook endorsement 3rd Year Running … …
  • The planned new Engineering, Energy, and Environment Institute , or E3 as we call it … …
  • Technology Campus at Grand canal Dock … …
  • Establishment of Provost’s Council – external leadership group for university … … …

*  *  * Call to Action *  *  *

This year is Trinity’s 425th anniversary. It’s now four centuries and a quarter since the university was founded by charter of Queen Elizabeth I. To mark this anniversary, the college has brought out this book of recent photos taken by students, staff and alumni in the 425th year, with an introductory essay by myself, in which I walk around campus – reflecting that the campus now extends all the way up to Grand Canal Dock.  

For those who would like a copy of the book, they’re available online through the Library Shop and proceeds from sales go to Trinity Alumni and Development.

Last week we also held a symposium to mark the 425th anniversary. The symposium was opened by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who is the first Trinity graduate to hold the office of Taoiseach.

We are proud of Leo’s achievement and which him well, and we can also be proud of the way that the college has survived and flourished over the centuries In its long history, Trinity has been through triumphant times and difficult ones. I took office as Provost in 2011, in what will historically be reckoned a difficult time. The country was still reeling from the downturn and austerity; state funding to higher education was falling year on year, and politically no-one wanted to take the hard decisions necessary to put the financing of higher education on a firm foothold.

Five years on and we’re still waiting for government to take those decisions, but nevertheless the whole atmosphere is different. Economically, growth has returned to the country, but the greatest change, I think, has come from within the campus, where there is a strong atmosphere of confidence and hope.

Despite a challenging environment, we’ve marked up significant successes. I’ve mentioned some of them this evening, and of course there are many others. I’m proud to lead a university which punches so far above its weight. On comparatively restricted funding and staffing, we compete with the world’s best.

This is thanks to the creativity, talent and commitment of so many people across the university. And it’s thanks to the strength of our wider community – to you, our alumni.

We’re most grateful. Quite simply, the university could not have developed in the way it has without your support.

Thank you all very much.

*  *  *

(1) Carmen León & Meghan Donaldson, Trinity Development and Alumni