Reception for Trinity Alumni & Friends in Melbourne

QT Hotel, 133 Russell Street, Melbourne

Tuesday 30th October 2018, 6pm

Thank you, Ciaran1, for those kind words, and thank you, all of you for coming along this evening.

It’s wonderful to be back in Melbourne. I was last here four years ago, in 2014, when I also had the pleasure of meeting alumni and friends. Perhaps some of you were there on that occasion; I look forward to renewing our acquaintance this evening.

Melbourne is a special place for me and for Trinity. This city has such a vibrant alumni community – a quarter of all our alumni in Australia live here. I thank Ciaran for the energy and dynamism he brings to the alumni branch.

I’m here this time in Australia for a nice, long trip of 2 weeks, giving myself time to visit the major cities and re-connect with Australian universities and with industry. I arrived last week to Sydney where myself and my team visited the Universities of Sydney and UNSW. This morning, Trinity’s Vice-President of Global Relations, Professor Juliette Hussey, signed a new student exchange agreement with Monash University and tomorrow morning I’ll be visiting the University of Melbourne where we will sign an MOU and student exchange agreements, celebrating ten years of collaboration.

Australia remains one of the most popular destinations for our students going on exchange. In fact, we have 23 students who will be studying either for a semester or full year in Australia this academic year and this is something we are very keen to grow.

Of particular excitement tomorrow at the University of Melbourne, we will be visiting the site of the new innovation precinct which is being developed on the corner of Grattan Street and Swanson Street. In this precinct is where Science Gallery Melbourne will open in 2020.

This will be second of our global Science Galleries to launch – Science Gallery at King’s College London opened just a month ago, and planning is well advanced for Bangalore, Venice, Detroit, and, most recently, Rotterdam.

In the lead up to Science Gallery Melbourne opening in 2020, pop-up exhibitions have been happening on and off campus. The current exhibition, “Perfection”, is housed in the award-winning Melbourne School of Design, or MSD. You may know this building - it holds a 6 star Green Star Design rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

If you get the opportunity, I do urge you to visit the exhibition in MSD - it will give a great feel for the kinds of exhibitions shortly to be hosted in Science Gallery Melbourne. The original Science Gallery, in Trinity, is such a great addition to Dublin; I’m sure Science Gallery Melbourne will be the same.

Our links with Australia are ever increasing. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Ireland Funds Australia on several projects including Scholarships for MBA students, and recently as September last there was a dinner to discuss the Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute.

1Ciaran Horgan (Business Studies, 1983), Melbourne Alumni Branch Chair

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In our time together this evening, I’d like to fill you in briefly on how Trinity is doing – what we have achieved and what we look forward to achieving. And I’d like to say a few words about the Philanthropic Campaign which we’ll be launching shortly.

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For me, a few achievements really stand out this year. In May, we made our formal announcement of our plan to build a new Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies Institute, which we’re calling E3.

E3 will be a game-changer. It will educate students of engineering, natural sciences and computer science to address the challenges of a liveable planet. It will be transformative both in terms of content - with more focus on sustainability – and in terms of methods and teaching techniques.

Students will learn from each other to develop innovative solutions towards, for instance, climate change, renewable energy, personalised data, water, connectivity and sustainable manufacturing.

E3 is a truly ambitious initiative and we’ve already raised over 40 million of the 60 million euro needed, thanks to state support and philanthropy, including the largest single philanthropic gift in the history of the Irish state – €25 million euro from the Naughton family.

E3 will be developed in two stages – first the E3 Learning Foundry to educate more students in the STEM disciplines, and then the E3 Research Institute which will be the centrepiece of a new campus at Grand Canal Dock. We have ambitious plans for this new campus. In July, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launched a far-reaching plan for the creation of the Grand Canal Innovation District in Dublin.

Ahead of that, next March will see the opening of the new Trinity Business School. The finishing stages are currently being put on this state-of-the-art building beside Science Gallery on Pearse Street. The new School will open its doors in March 2019.

Underpinning E3, the Trinity Business School, the Innovation District and all our ambitious initiatives is Trinity’s remarkable achievements in research.

Last year Trinity won €100.6 million euro in research funding. Four years ago, that figure was €74 million. In less than five years we have increased our research revenue by one third.

Looking at our success in winning awards from major funding bodies such as the European Commission’s Horizon 2020, the European Research Council and the Irish Research Council – Trinity consistently outperforms other Irish universities by a considerable distance, and not only Irish universities.

In terms of European Research Council grants won per academic staff, Trinity comes in just behind Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London.

And Trinity has nowhere near the public funding of those three universities. For our staff to be so competitive in the winning of grants shows how truly exceptional is the research being carried out in Trinity.

Confirmation that our research is world-class gives us the confidence to plan major initiatives for the university. And it gives us confidence to ask friends and alumni for support for those initiatives.

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In six months’ time we will be launching the first comprehensive Philanthropic Campaign in Trinity’s history. The Campaign will go across the university.

In addition to capital projects, we want the Campaign to invest in people and in our access programme. Trinity is emerging as a world leader in creating pathways for students from disadvantaged and non-traditional backgrounds to proceed to third-level education. The Trinity Access Programme, also called ‘TAP’, is central to our mission in education and research. We believe that all students of aptitude and ability should have the opportunity to proceed to third-level no matter what their background or circumstances are.

In addition to E3, which I’ve already mentioned, let me say a brief word about two other flagship initiatives of the Campaign: the Library and the Trinity St James Cancer Institute.

Trinity’s Library, is of course, unique. We have the only copies in the world of certain early, medieval and renaissance manuscripts, including the UNESCO heritage treasure, the Book of Kells.

It’s impossible to imagine Trinity without these treasures. And we are acutely conscious of our duty of care – to Ireland, to world heritage, to future generations. These manuscripts are unique. Should they be lost, something of the world’s greatness is lost.

We have a double duty – to conserve and to share our unique holdings. And when we talk about ‘sharing’ that means physically and digitally. Scholars must be able to view our priceless manuscripts online, and to consult them on campus in person.

The Philanthropic Campaign will focus on:
• conserving the Old Library Building, the Long Room and its holdings;
• fully digitising our online collections; and
• creating a Manuscripts Study Centre.

I want this study centre to go into the ground floor of the Old Library. The thousands of visitors who queue to see the Book of Kells weekly should file past a beautiful room, with scholars from around the world bent over priceless manuscripts.

The Trinity St James Cancer Institute links the university with the hospital. It brings together medics, oncology researchers and PIs like nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists working in patient-centred research and care. The institute already exists virtually insofar as these practitioners and researchers are already working across Trinity and St James. The goal is to establish the essential pathways and linkages to facilitate discovery, and speed up the transition of treatments to patients.

Of course, we don’t want to create just any centre. This is our opportunity to create a comprehensive cancer centre of recognised global excellence. And it’s also our opportunity to contribute to the global search for cancer cures and improvements in treatment.

Tomorrow we will visit the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre here in Melbourne to see such a comprehensive cancer care centre working at first hand.

It’s not easy to make an impact globally in cancer research because this is an area of high global interest and investment. But in Trinity I think we can genuinely make a global contribution because of our leadership in immuno-oncology. We are ranked in the top 1% of immunology research globally, and through the Trinity St James Cancer Institute, we can translate this into patient care in a potentially transformative way.

To be able to say in five, ten, fifteen years that in Trinity we pioneered immuno-oncology, developing individualised and customised patient-centred cancer care with fewer side-effects than traditional treatments – that is going to be an amazing moment for all of us.

It can happen if – as with the Trinity Business School and as with E3 – we secure sufficient philanthropy to leverage state support and loans.

Philanthropy and state investment are mutually enforcing. With the Philanthropic Campaign, we do not expect our projects to rely solely on philanthropy. Donors do not, and should not, give money to replace exchequer money. They donate as part of a bigger investment plan.

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With the Philanthropic Campaign, we are inviting alumni and friends to be part of something vital for the university and for Dublin, Ireland and
global research.

We launch this campaign because we are confident, as I’ve said, in Trinity’s research and education success. We ask support for a university that has proved itself time again.

And we are confident in launching this campaign because we know we can count on such exceptional graduates.

Trinity could not have developed in the way it has without the support of our alumni.

Graduates like yourselves have remained so engaged with the college, joining alumni branches, attending events like these, returning to campus on visits, and staying connected through the alumni office.

Many of you give financial support through the University of Dublin Fund, and through funding scholarships and access programmes. You help with mentoring students and graduates when they come abroad.
The benefits of studying abroad for students are immense. While many students want these opportunities, many cannot afford to avail of them. We want to make sure that the opportunity to study abroad, particularly in Australia, is a real possibility for all Trinity students. To this end, Trinity has launched a new initiative, “Trinity International Study Bursaries”. These bursaries will offer financial support for Trinity undergrad students to go abroad to study.
we very much hope that many of you will want to support this new initiative. There is some further information available at the event tonight, or please do speak with one of our delegation. We’d be delighted to provide more information.

We are hugely grateful for all alumni support. As a sign of our appreciation, last year we opened an Alumni Room in Front Square. This was enabled by generous philanthropic support and it’s for your use for you to relax in or hold meetings in, so do please avail of it whenever you’re in Dublin. It’s a particularly comfortable and beautiful room.

And last year, to commemorate the college’s 425th anniversary, we brought out this book of photos taken by students, staff and alumni, with an introductory essay by myself, in which I walk around campus.

We’ve brought along a quite a few copies of the book, which I’d be delighted to sign. The photos will, I hope, bring back great memories.

I thank you all for your commitment to Trinity, for coming here tonight and giving me the chance to meet you. Please do continue to stay in touch – online and in person whenever you’re in Dublin.

Trinity has so many exciting initiatives and plans for the future. With your help, we look forward to continuing with the great education, research and innovation that has such impact in Dublin, Ireland and the world.

Now, before we get back to the talking, let’s take a photo of the whole group.

Thank you.

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