Dear all, 

Since the publication of the History Group’s report last October, hundreds of staff, students and alumni have shared their views on its findings and recommendationsPresident’s Board have now reviewed these contributions and have decided on the next steps we will take as a College. 

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to these important discussions. By listening and learning from one another, we have enriched our understanding of our past and contributed to building a more inclusive future for our institution. 

President’s Board have committed to taking forward several key actions, including:  

  • We will find new ways to mark the impact and contributions of brilliant but undercelebrated Imperial people like Professor Abdus Salam, Dr Margaret Fishenden, and Dr Narinder Singh Kapany. This is long overdue, and we will continue to seek out new figures deserving of greater celebration and ways to make their contributions more widely known. 
  • We will consider a joint name for the Huxley Building, with the aim of adding the name of a pathbreaking scientist from a Black, Asian or other minority ethnic background. 
  • The name and bust of Huxley will be retained, but it will be clearly put into a fuller context in order to provide everyone with a more complete understanding of Huxley’s complex character and achievements as well as his flaws, including his racially prejudiced writings.  
  • A similar approach will be adopted for the Beit Building and statue, with a focus on providing a fuller understanding of the Beit brothers’ impact in southern Africa. The College will consult with students and explore whether to add an African scientist to the building’s name. 
  • Contextualising narrative will also be developed for any co-named person.]

We will find new, prominent and ambitious ways of ensuring that the complexities of key figures are fully understood alongside the College’s values. This will include acknowledging both their positive contributions to science and to Imperial in parallel with the ways in which they have espoused or entrenched views that are in conflict with our values by harming progress towards racial equality and justice. 

We will go beyond plaques and explore ambitious programmes to grow historical understanding and engagement in this living and constantly changing institution. 

A working group, made up of a subgroup of President’s Board, Consuls, and staff and student representatives, has been established to take forward agreed-upon actions. You can read more about these decisions and next steps in our news story

These decisions have been reached after a long period of research, reflection, and debate – defined by our commitment to freedom of speech and open dialogue. The fullness of our history, both the positive and negative, must be represented, understood and learned from. Change and evolution are indispensable parts of our history and will continue to be. 

We recognise that our community holds many different views. But we have been encouraged to see that many of our community have been able to engage constructively and rigorously across political and cultural divides. As we move forward, we remain committed to preserving our history, deepening our understanding, and finding ways for our community to come together to discuss these complex issues. 

We are grateful to our entire community and to President’s Board for shaping these important next steps.

Best wishes,  

Alice and Ian  

 

Professor Alice Gast, President  

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost