Alumni Reception in Cape Town, South Africa

Westin Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa

Friday 26th July 2019

Thank you Juliette1 and good evening all,

It’s a great pleasure to be here and to have this chance of meeting you all. My team and I have been in Africa for the week, the past two days in South Africa. It’s been a very full schedule. Here in South Africa, we’ve visited the universities of Wits, Pretoria, Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, and Western Cape and Cape Town. On Monday my colleagues will go to Stellenbosch and their Vice-Chancellor visited us in Dublin last week. We had great meetings with all, and we look forward to building collaborations on student exchange and ever closer research programmes.

It’s a pleasure to introduce our team here: Laurence Gill form Engineering, Susan Murphy and Matt Saunders from Natural Sciences, and Carol Newman form Economics and Head of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy. And Global Relations colleagues Ronan Hodson and Leo McNamee. And Emily Daniels from the Provost’s Office.

Now as we near the end of our trip, that started in Dar Es Salaam a week ago – it’s wonderful for me to be meeting with you. Wherever I go in the world I like to meet with Trinity graduates. We had a great event earlier in the week in Nairobi. And every time I remind myself of what a great, globally connected community we have. I know that the South African alumni branch is a strong one – Juliette and our colleague, Gerard McHugh, who visited Johannesburg last year, have told me about their great encounters so I’m delighted now to have this opportunity myself.

I thank John Murphy, who has taken over as branch contact head for his work, and I’m looking forward to getting a chance to talk to each of you this evening.

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In our time together now, 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 our Philanthropic Campaign, Inspiring Generations, which we launched earlier this year.

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Our university has been enjoying a great period of growth. There are lots of stand-out initiatives. Let me mention a few of the most notable.

Just two months ago, we formally opened the Trinity Business School in a wonderful new building on the site of the old Luce Hall and opening onto Pearse Street. The new building is both the manifestation and the focal hub of Trinity’s deep investment, not only in the Business School, but in innovation and entrepreneurship as a college-wide activity for all staff and students.

Trinity’s MBA programme has now entered into the top 50 of such programmes world-wide and the whole of the first floor of the Trinity Business School now houses Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace, which aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in all staff and students. Tangent is a wonderful space geared towards team learning – it has a prototyping workshop and an ideation space as well as Trinity’s noted student accelerator, LaunchBox. In a very tangible way, Tangent fulfils the new building’s mission to raise the game not just for the Trinity Business School but for the whole university.

The Trinity Business School has been greatly enabled by alumni generosity. Forty-five donors – graduates and business leaders – came together to donate €20 million. Their generosity enabled us to leverage a further loan from the EIB.

Alumni generosity is also at the heart of another remarkable initiative which is just getting under way.

Last summer 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.

The new Trinity tech campus in the Grand Canal Innovation District will be located just ten minutes’ walk up Pearse Street from our main campus.
Those of you who haven’t been in Dublin for a while will be delighted I think to see the changes on Pearse Street – just in the past decade Trinity has opened Science Gallery, the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, the Lir Academy of Dramatic Art, and now the Trinity Business School – all wonderful buildings, which the local Pearse Street community are very happy with.

The Grand Canal Innovation District will continue the regeneration of the area and it play a role for all Ireland, creating a centre for innovation, connected nationally, and promoting all types of innovation, including in the creative arts.

Another initiative dear to the hearts of alumni is Printing House Square, a new residential square built on the Oisin House site. It will house 250 new student rooms, sports facilities, and student services.

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The enthusiasm and generosity of alumni and friends for our initiatives have encouraged us to launch the first comprehensive philanthropic campaign in Trinity’s history and the largest such campaign ever to be launched in Ireland.

Over the past three months, this campaign, Inspiring Generations, has been launched already in Dublin, London, Paris New York, and San Francisco. And we’ll soon be bringing the message to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Sydney.

Our goals with this campaign are ambitious but achievable: we’ve set out to raise €400 million euro to support our mission in education and research, and we want to inspire 150 thousand hours of volunteering from the Trinity community around the world.

The flagship projects of the Campaign have been carefully chosen where Trinity can create excellence and impact. These transformational projects include:

  • One, Putting Ireland at the forefront of research and technological innovation for generations to come with our new E3 Institute, and with the creation of Dublin’s Grand Canal Innovation District;
  • Two, Ensuring that the Old Library and its extraordinary collections continue to exist for future generations;
  • Three, Developing Ireland’s first comprehensive cancer care centre, the Trinity St James’ Cancer Institute;
  • Four, Building a Law School to rival the best in the world.

These initiatives will be underpinned by a ‘New Generations’ programme to bring the best talent to Trinity from Ireland and the world. A fundamental aim of ‘Inspiring Generations’ is to fund new Professorships and tenure-track academic posts across the University.

Simultaneously we’ll create more pathways to bring talented students to college, from backgrounds not traditionally represented at third-level. The success of the Trinity Access Programme over 26 years has changed the lives of thousands of students.

An investment in Trinity is an investment in Ireland’s future, in our young people, and in global research to help confront globally challenges.

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I want to thank all of you for coming here this evening.  The community of Trinity alumni and friends in South Africa is an important of our global network. 

Trinity could not have developed in the way it has without the support of our alumni. Graduates like yourselves have remained engaged with the college, 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’re hugely grateful. As a sign of our appreciation, last year we opened an Alumni Room in Front Square. This is yet another initiative that 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 most importantly it gives you a home on campus. Please do continue to stay in touch. It means so much to us.

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And now, to tell you a bit more about our Campaign, Inspiring Generations, we’ve put together a video which we’re delighted to show you now.

Afterwards I look forward to mingling and meeting each of you personally. I hope that, like me, you’ll be inspired by our Campaign and will continue to be part of the great story of Trinity College Dublin.

[Play Video]

Thank you.


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1 Professor Juliette Hussey, Vice-President of Global Relations