Reception for Trinity Alumni & Friends in Singapore

Embassy of Ireland, Singapore

Thursday 1st November 2018, 5.30pm

Thank you, Ambassador(1), for those kind words, and thank you so much for hosting us here, tonight.

It’s wonderful to be back in Singapore, and to be in the Irish Embassy is particularly special. I thank all the staff here in the Embassy, particularly Elizabeth McEneaney and Sarah-Jane Bennett, for their help in organising this evening.

And I thank all of you, for taking the time to be here tonight. I’m delighted at this opportunity to meet you. Wherever I am in the world, I like to connect with graduates and friends, and Singapore is such a special place for Trinity. We’ve particularly important collaborations with universities here and the city has a wonderful, vibrant alumni community – indeed, the numbers this evening speak for themselves. What a great turn out!

I understand that Bill McCormack(2) has recently volunteered to take over as Branch contact for Singapore. We are delighted and welcome him warmly and thank him for taking on this role. Bill has said that he is looking forward to supporting Dr Stanley Quek’s work in strengthening the alumni community in Singapore.

Dr Stanley Quek – or just Stanley, since it has been my pleasure to know him for many years now – has indeed been a truly remarkable alumnus for Trinity. A graduate of our medical school, he is a property developer and philanthropist, and well known to many of you. It would take a full speech to detail all that Stanley has done for Trinity, both on campus and here in Asia.

On campus, we have a lecture theatre called “The Stanley Quek” and I am pleased now, this evening here in Singapore, to make a particularly important announcement which you here in Singapore are hearing before anyone else: Dr Stanley Quek has been elected by the University Senate as the next Pro-Chancellor of the University of Dublin, Trinity College.

Pro-Chancellors are ex officio members of the Senate of the University, and they hold office in their own right. They deputise for the Chancellor in accordance with the Statutes. Trinity has just six Pro-Chancellors, very eminent men and women. We’re honoured that Stanley will now be among them.

Stanley was born here in Singapore, educated in the UK, and is an MB graduate of Trinity College Dublin, 1972. Following graduation the young Dr Quek returned to play his part in the new Republic of Singapore, as a medical practitioner, as a property designer and developer, diplomat, philanthropist, and champion of the creative arts – he is a nurturer of deep educational bonds between Ireland and Singapore. I hope all of you are as happy as I am that we will have a Pro-Chancellor of the distinction of Dr Stanley Quek. And the first ever from Asia reflecting the global reach of our university. The new Pro-Chancellor has agreed to address you later!

On this trip to Singapore I’ll be meeting with our long-term partner, the Singapore Institute of Technology, SIT. Trinity’s relationship with SIT goes back many years now. Since 2011 our two institutes have delivered a Joint degree in Physiotherapy and one year programmes in Occupational Therapy, Diagnostic Radiography, and Radiation Therapy. This is one of the most far-reaching educational programmes that Trinity has with any university in the world - it is not just a student exchange but a joint degree. There are currently 155 students in Trinity programmes at SIT and 84 students from Singapore on campus at Trinity, of which 9 are postgraduate students.

Trinity also has student exchange agreements with Singapore Management University (SMU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS). This morning we had a great meeting with the President of SMU and tomorrow we meet with the new President of NTU to discuss student exchange and research collaboration.

 We really value our partnerships with Singapore universities – Singapore students, who come to campus, are excellent and our students enjoy a very valuable experience here.

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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 next year.

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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.

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

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.

Yesterday in Melbourne we had an inspirational visit to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre which crystalized for what we are trying to achieve in Trinity for Ireland.

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’re 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. 

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.

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.

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 Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to invite Pro-Chancellor Stanley Quek to address you!

Thank you.

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(1) H.E. Ambassador Pat Bourne

(2) Bill McCormack, (LL.B., 1990s)