Vice-Chancellor's Oration 2017

In her annual Oration, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, has called on the University 'to focus our resources on the activities we care about most, the research and teaching which are, and always have been, the central mission of this great University.'

The Vice-Chancellor included an update on the status of the Tinbergen closure:

It was, as so often happens, when the chips were down that the real strength of our community was demonstrated. In February we faced an unprecedented situation which required the immediate closure of the Tinbergen Building. This meant the displacement of almost 800 staff and doctoral students in the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Zoology. Lab facilities, testing, meeting, teaching and support space needed to be relocated, as well as lab and teaching facilities for the Department of Biochemistry.

Offers of space and support immediately came flooding in. Zoology has been given space in nine locations across the university and Experimental Psychology has moved across 15 locations.  The impact on students was kept to a minimum. I think we should all take great pride in the generous response of colleagues from other parts of the university, and in the commitment and professionalism of our colleagues in the professional services who had to swing into action overnight.

Council has agreed to demolish the building and replace it with a new home for Experimental Psychology and Zoology which will provide improved facilities for the departments as well as an opportunity to think strategically and creatively about the future of sciences in South Parks Road.

But the Tinbergen experience also poses some interesting questions. Why does it take a crisis for us to behave like this? How do we harness the Dunkirk spirit in peacetime? We should have a shared culture which deems it unacceptable for parts of the University not to help when the collective institution faces a problem.