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Provost’s Introduction

This Strategic Plan will shape the future of this university to benefit Irish society and the wider world. The plan’s title, ‘Community and Connection’, reflects our conviction that, in an increasingly interdependent world, we need to work together more intensely and in new ways to address the formidable challenges facing us.

On behalf of all students, staff, and alumni, I thank those who have created this plan, including many colleagues and external advisors who were members of the various working groups. The strategic planning process was led by Chris Morash, Vice-Provost/Chief Academic Officer, until July 2019, and then by his successor, Jürgen Barkhoff, who brought the process to a successful conclusion. I thank them both for their skill and commitment. Geraldine Ruane, Chief Operating Officer, and Antoinette Quinn, Director of Human Resources, brought an essential emphasis on the role of professional staff with the ‘One Trinity Community’ concept. The Chief Financial Officer, Peter Reynolds, and his team completed very important financial underpinnings of the plan on foot of which it was adopted by the Board in December 2019. By approving this Strategic Plan, the Board of the College takes the responsibility for ensuring it is implemented.

With this Strategic Plan, we aim to consolidate our achievements in several areas: participation and access, undergraduate curriculum reform, global relations and international student recruitment, research impact and the prioritisation of research themes, and financial sustainability.

This Strategic Plan also strikes out in new directions in response to new challenges. Chief among these challenges are those brought on by globalisation, technology, and environmental change. This Strategic Plan responds by proposing the E3 Institute in Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies; the development of an Innovation Campus at Grand Canal Dock; the creation of the Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute; and the refurbishment of the Old Library and creation of a Research Collections Study Centre, alongside other initiatives that include a ‘New Generations’ programme of academic staff recruitment and student scholarships.

It is also important that we address the global trend in reduced exchequer funding of higher education and research; reductions have happened in other countries too, though the reductions in Ireland have been more rapid than elsewhere in Europe. I believe Trinity has managed this financial situation well by the sustained efforts of the whole College community. However, there has been a cost in terms of global competitiveness manifested in the rankings. The key to overcoming this is in persuading the government to increase public funding for investigator-led research not only for the long-term benefits it brings to society but because it is the well-spring of innovation and a successful knowledge economy. We will also continue our success in winning research funding from the European Commission programmes.

How we respond to challenges is conditioned by the values we hold. This new Strategic Plan articulates Trinity’s values crisply in five words: inquisitive, pioneering, responsible, inclusive, and collaborative. Our vision continues to emphasise being a university of global consequence, but is now strengthened by better articulating what that means, including the aim of ‘Inspiring Generations’ to meet the challenges of the future through research and scholarship. I welcome these changes to the values and vision because they strengthen Trinity’s mission as a research university.

Being a research university comes with great responsibilities. It means a commitment, first and foremost, to the value of new knowledge — a passion for creating it, and passion for sharing it with others through publication via various means, including Open Access, where the fruits of research and scholarship are disseminated to benefit society, and have impact on public policy and public life. Being a research university also means embodying the idea that universities are a partnership in learning between staff and students. And most importantly, research universities stand up to those who say we have had enough of experts and thereby call into question the validity of using knowledge to advance the cause of a pluralistic, just and sustainable society.

I look forward to working with the whole College community and all its supporters and collaborators to make the ambitious goals of this Strategic Plan a reality.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Prendergast