Trinity election fails test

April 21, 2011

The article "Clash of the centuries" (14 April) on the election of Trinity College Dublin's new provost expressed two problems with the process as I observed it: unreal romanticism and disconnection from present dangers.

By chance I was present at the election's final hustings, where each candidate addressed the electorate. Of the five contenders, only one was an external candidate. Only the outsider expressed the stark problems facing the institution: Trinity is reliant on a bankrupt government and must formulate a rigorous financial plan for independence.

There were vote-catching promises from the internal candidates: the library would stay open later; the bus service between campuses would be improved. At the other extreme, one even promised to raise an unreal EUR1 billion (£880 million) for the college.

So perhaps Trinity is doomed. If it does not engineer a unique place in the globalised academy, marrying tradition and distinction with a proper financial plan, it may join the long list of redundant Irish properties.

The institution's parochial system for electing provosts favours the inside candidate who, to be elected, has to promise the trivial and must never frighten the electorate. The system excludes new blood with new ideas.

The anointed successor to the incumbent provost won. The external candidate came last.

John Martin, Professor of cardiovascular medicine, University College London

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy