“Imperial community full of new ideas, friends and interesting conversations”

From the President / Professor Alice GastProfessor Alice Gast

Wherever I go, I greatly enjoy meeting friends and alumni of Imperial College London. Our alumni are smart, energetic and inspiring. They take well-justified pride in their scientific and technical expertise, their broad range of interests, and their significant accomplishments. They excel in whatever career they have chosen, be it in industry, academia, government or in a variety of other areas. They have fascinating stories of intellect, hard work and devotion. Graduating from Imperial College London seems to prepare one for almost anything.

It is rewarding to spend time with such impressive alumni, our stellar staff and outstanding students, and it is exciting and gratifying to welcome friends of the College who are eager to be involved with, and support, Imperial and its work.

Our common interests, our shared values and our growing numbers and reach make us a vital community. And community has never been more important.

With so much uncertainty and division in our society, we need the fellowship and support of one another now more than ever. In an age where we get much of our information from electronic sources, it is becoming ever harder to make the time to listen to, and understand, one another. But we must. The insight and warmth provided by a simple conversation while having a coffee or sharing a meal is too valuable to lose. To move from information to understanding, we need to look up from our phones and talk to each other. We need to recapture our sense of community.

Our alumni community is thriving. You are spending time with one another. You are finding warmth in a shared evening. You are giving your time to volunteering for our students and others in ever greater amounts. More alumni than ever are hosting and attending events all over the world and throughout the year. This past year, more than 7,000 alumni registered for one of our nearly 200 events. We are here for you; let us know what opportunities you would like to have to spend time with your Imperial community.

Imperial magazine is one way we communicate with our community. We send it to 123,000 alumni and another 2,600 friends and donors. We know that readers are interested in the science, excited about the impact of our research and curious about the educational experiences at Imperial today. We have filled the pages with cutting edge stories like the ones you find in this issue: the breakthroughs in understanding the “killer fungus” that are appearing worldwide and the discoveries turning our understanding of gravity on its head. We connect with the past, as in the history of Felix, and we look to the future with our announcement of the launch of the landmark Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics of J-IDEA.  We want to hear from you about what you like and how we could do better. 

We have also improved our monthly e-newsletter to reach those who have given us their email address. Our new Plexus platform provides a virtual connection to our community and is an additional way to stay in touch with other alumni and keep informed of what is happening at Imperial. A growing number of you are using Plexus and we will continue to improve it to meet your needs.

Through all of these connections, we respect the privacy of our alumni and friends. If we are not reaching you and you would like to be in closer touch, please email alumni@imperial.ac.uk or call +44 020 7594 6138 – our Alumni HelpDesk team will be delighted to help you to reconnect. 

I like an analogy I recently heard in France comparing café culture and encyclopaedias. For both, “you enter with a purpose and then lose yourself to other things.”

We all enjoy the opportunity to “lose ourselves” in unexpected conversations. Now, perhaps too often, the café is just a place to get a takeaway coffee (or to sit with our laptop and work alone) and the encyclopaedia is supplanted by the internet search. I hope that you will reconnect with the Imperial community and “lose yourself” in the new ideas, the friends old and new, and the always interesting conversations that you will find.

Professor Alice Gast is President of Imperial College London and is an internationally renowned academic leader and researcher.