Reception for Trinity Alumni & Friends in Perth

Treasury Lounge and Bar, the Treasury Hotel, Cathedral Street, Perth

Monday 5th November 2018, 6pm

Thank you, Aine1, for those kind words, and thank you, all of you
for coming along this evening. A special welcome to Stephen Dawson, Minister for Environment and Minister for Disability services in the Government of Western Australia, and a Dubliner.

I’m delighted to be here in Perth on what is the first ever visit by a Provost of Trinity to this city, so far as we can tell – after 427 years its about time! Great to have this opportunity to meet alumni and friends. Wherever I am in the world, I like to connect with Trinity graduates and friends. Thank you so much, all of you, for taking the time to be here and giving me this chance to meet with you. And thank you, Áine, for taking over this year as head of the alumni branch here in Perth – we very much look forward to working with you in the future, and thank you for your help organising tonight’s event. I would like to recognise too the presence here this evening of Edward Pigot2, a graduate of Trinity Engineering School of 1946, more than seventy years ago! Great to see you here Edward.

I’m now well into my second week visiting Australia, which is such an important place for Trinity. There are 1,700 Trinity alumni in Australia – including graduates and former exchange students – 200 of these are in Perth. And Trinity has multiple student exchange programmes and research collaborations with Australian universities. Already, on this trip, myself and my team have visited the Universities of Sydney, New South Wales. Monash University, the University of Melbourne, and the University of Western Australia.

With each university, we have sought to deepen our existing collaborations.  
At the University of Melbourne, we visited the site 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.

The original Science Gallery, in Trinity, is such a great addition to Dublin; we’re delighted that our second global science gallery is opening in Australia.

Trinity’s links with Australia are ever increasing. We are currently working in partnership with the Ireland Funds Australia on several projects including Scholarships for MBA students, and recently, on the 25th of September, a dinner to discuss the Trinity St James Cancer Institute was held.

1 Áine Whelan (BA, Music, 1988) Perth Alumni Branch Chair

2 BA, BAI, 1946

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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 but 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 on Pearse Street, on the site of the old Luce Hall. The new School will open its doors in March 2019.

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

Trinity has nowhere near the 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 is Ireland’s first comprehensive cancer care centre and 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 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.

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 immune-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.

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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.

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 and take a keen interest in college developments.

We are hugely grateful. As a sign of our appreciation, last year we opened an Alumni Room in East Chapel 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. My family also contributed in to the book – there are two photos in here by my children, the eldest of which I’m proud to say are studying in Trinity.

I’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.

Thank you.

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