Provost's 4th Week Reception for Leaders of Trinity Clubs & Societies

Foyer of the Provost's House

1st October 2018

Good afternoon, and welcome everybody,

And thank you for coming here today and giving me the opportunity to meet you, the captains, presidents and chairs of Trinity’s 170 clubs and societies. I’m delighted to be meeting you now, at the beginning of your tenures.

You will, I hope, enjoy a really productive year leading your club or society. If there’s anything the college can do to help or facilitate, then please do let us know. The Dean of Students, Professor Kevin O’Kelly and the Head of Sport and Recreation, Michelle Tanner, both here now, are always ready to help with any concerns or queries.

It’s important for me, as Provost, to meet you all. Trinity is a community of staff, students and alumni; and the education we offer encompasses teaching, research, and co-curricular activities.

I prefer to talk about ‘co-curricular’ rather than ‘extra-curricular’ because it gets across that student activities outside the lecture-room, the laboratory, and the library, are intrinsic to the Trinity Education.

You will, I hope, have heard quite a bit about the Trinity Education, and the Trinity Education Project, over the past year or so because the college is currently in the middle of the very significant renewal of our undergraduate education.

The Trinity Education Project is about giving students the best preparation possible for successful 21st century lives and careers. Globally, we are in a period of transformational change and today’s students will likely go on to have a number of careers, travel and live in different cities and countries, whilst constantly updating their skills to keep on top of rapid patterns of change in technology and in work practices.

And with the rise, globally, of political upheaval, social inequality and environmental problems, our graduates will also need to think about what responsible citizenship entails and how they can contribute to the creation of sustainable and equitable societies.

With the Trinity Education Project, we started by identifying what attributes graduates will need to be successful and useful in a changing world. We focused on attributes rather than skills because skills are specific to the discipline studied and as educators, we want to imbue our students not just with the skills to get a first job, but with the right mindset for career and life success.

The Trinity Graduate Attributes which we agreed on are:

  • to think independently;
  • to communicate effectively
  • to develop continuously and  
  • to act responsibly.

Clubs and societies and all co-curricular activities, are absolutely central to developing the graduate attributes and, therefore, to preparing students for flexible, adaptive, responsible 21st century lives and careers.

I don’t think I need to spell out the ways in which participation in clubs and societies contribute towards thinking independently, communicating effectively, developing continuously and acting responsibly. It will be very clear to you what you gain from your clubs and societies – things like social skills, health and fitness, event management, volunteering, public speaking, fundraising, entrepreneurship, leadership and everything else that makes life at once more enjoyable and more navigable.

This is why employers always specify that they’re looking to hire people who have developed a capacity for responsibility and initiative through participation in clubs and societies.

Without clubs and societies we would be unable to deliver the Trinity Education nor to embed the graduate attributes. So this is my opportunity to thank you all for enabling the clubs and societies. They could not happen without DUCAC and CSC and without you, the captains, presidents and chairs. Because of your initiative and enthusiasm, thousands of students benefit and develop skills and attributes which are indispensable to happiness and success.

The centrality of clubs and societies to the Trinity Education is evident on arrival to university, when Front Square is alive with colour and activity for Freshers’ Week, and it’s evident long after you graduate. When you look back on your university days, I know that what will loom large is the co-curricular.

For me, my student days mean the Karate Club as much as the labs and lectures – there is plenty of opportunity to be excellent at both curricular and co-curricular activities.

Many alumni remain connected with the College via the clubs and societies that they joined as students. You may have benefitted yourselves from alumni help with event organisation and mentoring. That’s a wonderful thing. The college regards its relationship with graduates as lifelong and we recognise that this relationship is sustained very frequently through clubs and societies. This year I went to Henley and joined graduates form the 1960s onwards for the boat races.

Every year, Trinity clubs and societies do us proud. For instance, this past academic year:

  • the Association Football men’s team won the freshers’ competition, the Harding Cup, for the first time in over 20 years;
  • Trinity VDP or Vincent de Paul had a stand-out year developing links with Friends of the Elderly, establishing a Teen Club for young children and a second branch of Trinity Club for adults with intellectual disabilities; reflecting this, the VDP president won the Legacy Award at this year’s Dean’s roll of Honour
  • DULBC, the ladies boat club Senior 8 team won at both Colours and the Trinity Regatta, while
  • DUBC, the men’s boat club Senior 8, has been on a winning streak this season, with victories at Erne, Colours, Neptune, Commercial, University Championships and Trinity Regatta.
  • The Meditation society took home the “Most improved” award in 2018, a reflection of its growing membership and its creative scheduling of events such as outdoor meditation session;
  • Women’s Volleyball earned promotion to the premier national league, while our fresher hurlers won both the league and the championship for the second year in a row;
  • The Hist had a wide range of speakers ranging from US civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton to author Jung Chang, and it’s now preparing for its 250th anniversary in 2020.

This is just a sample of outstanding achievement by Trinity clubs and societies this year; I’m sorry I don’t have time to mention more.
We are delighted when clubs and societies are recognised for achievement and, of course, competitiveness is always a great spur; equally we know that it is in the day-to-day events and bonding that our clubs and societies really show their worth

Clubs and societies are a cornerstone of what we are about as a university. It is your talent, energy, and ingenuity which keeps these clubs and societies so dynamic and popular.

To run a successful club or society requires drive, imagination, energy, enthusiasm, and sheer hard work. Leadership is always challenging, no matter the scale of the organisation. As leaders you have to listen to the needs of individuals and do what’s best for them, but always keeping in mind what’s best for the organisation as a whole.

You have to grow membership, which means marketing and promotion; you have to liaise with alumni and fundraise; you have to motivate and encourage active participation against the competing aims of people’s studies and social lives; you have to think up initiatives that are new and compelling; you have to place people in positions that will unleash their potential. It’s a challenging role, but of course, when it all goes right, a deeply rewarding one.

By stepping up, by putting yourselves forward as captains and presidents, you are showing character and initiative. You are laying the groundwork for successful lives and careers. And you are already ‘giving something back’ to your fellow students.

I thank you and I congratulate you. With this important experience of leadership already to your credit, I hope and believe that in college, and afterwards, you will demonstrate, in everything you do, the Trinity attributes: thinking independently, communicating effectively, developing continuously, and acting responsibly.

Thank you.

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