Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial, has reflected on the College’s priorities in a time of change and challenge.
Imperial is an enduring, strong and fast-moving institution that time and again seizes opportunity Professor Alice Gast President
In her autumn message to the Imperial community, Professor Gast said that we must not let uncertainties such as Brexit prevent us from “accomplishing all that we aim for.”
Professor Gast said: “We have an ever increasing responsibility in society, as a global institution making a difference to people locally, regionally and around the world
“I am confident that we will accomplish what we set out to do, we will be resilient, and we will remain vibrant in decades to come.”
It is important to spend our attention and energy wisely, she continued: “After the 2016 referendum, I was concerned about the amount of time, attention and energy that would be spent on dealing with Brexit over other priorities for the College. Indeed, Brexit and other world events are sources of disruption that necessarily consume our attention.”
“In times like these, our focus on priorities is essential.”
Imperial has demonstrated its ability to progress during a time of uncertainty, she said. In the past year, the College has achieved many things, including launching an ambitious fundraising campaign for the School of Public Health, calling for a Joint Expert Panel to find a way forward with the USS pension scheme, establishing new collaborations with European partners, and moving the Department of Chemistry into the Molecular Sciences Research Hub at our White City campus.
In order to excel through periods of change and challenge, we must have a strong mission and goals, shared values, and an ability to deal with trade-offs with agility, Professor Gast continued.
Imperial clearly has the first two attributes, she said, and it is working on the third: “We are an enduring, strong and fast-moving institution that time and again seizes opportunity…We share a commitment to excellence, diversity, hard work and accomplishment.
“The third attribute, the ability to deal with trade-offs with agility, is challenging for any large institution. We need to make important decisions in a rigorous yet timely manner. We need to be both collaborative and responsive. We need to work together to ensure that all perspectives are heard and considered, that the full range of consequences and effects are understood, and to do so in a way that moves things forward.
“We will excel through turbulent times by enhancing our ability to respond to opportunities and by improving our decision-making process.”
Professor Gast said that Imperial’s leadership team will devote their time, energy, thought to the following priorities:
- Supporting and valuing our staff
- Improving the student experience
- Enhancing diversity
- Pursuing our collaborations with determination
- Gaining external support for our research and teaching
- Acting courageously and innovatively pursuing new opportunities
Speaking of the importance of Imperial’s philanthropic support, Professor Gast said: “One measure of the importance of our mission and work, and a key enabler in achieving it, is the philanthropic support we receive.”
Last year, Imperial received a record £59m in donations, a significant increase over the annual average of £17m in the years 2004-2014, she said.
Since 2015, the College has received four major gifts over £10m, including a recent £25m donation from alumna Marit Mohn for the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing at Imperial’s new School of Public Health in White City. The donation was a landmark gift in the Colleges £100m fundraising campaign for the transformation of the School of Public Health.
Professor Gast said: “This critical support from alumni and friends is an affirmation of what we do.”
Closing her letter, Professor Gast said: “As I write this, we do not know how Brexit will be resolved, nor do we know what else the future will bring.
“We will support our staff and students and advocate for our international community and collaborations.
“External forces will not stop us from achieving our goals. We have met such challenges in the past, and we have always turned threats into opportunities.”
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