UCD President, Professor Andrew J Deeks

President’s Letter TO Alumni

The University has been working non-stop to respond to the challenges posed by Covid-19, considering every contingency to meet academic requirements while keeping students, faculty and staff safe ...

THE SUPPORT WE receive from UCD alumni is extraordinary in its generosity, transformative in its impact, and deeply appreciated by the students who benefit directly and by the UCD staff who nurture their progress.

In this issue of UCD Connections, we bring you some insight into the difference your donations make to your University and to the young (and not so young) students following their journey through UCD. Last year alone, thanks to the incredible support of close to 4,000 alumni, we raised €10.36m in support of students, research and teaching facilities. I thank each and every one of you.

“Within the constraints of the national and public health guidelines, we strive to provide a real campus experience for our students, academically and socially”

Of course, since January, we have all been consumed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have lost friends, family and colleagues to this awful virus. Its impact has meant that our normal social interactions have been so curtailed that we have not been able to extend the normal personal sympathy and support to those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones – whether from Covid-19 or in other circumstances. Because so many of us have been affected, I know that we will rally, and, when the time is right, we will come together to share, commemorate and celebrate.

UCD has been very proud to play its part in tackling the impact of Covid-19  at a national level – through the work of staff, students and alumni – to such an extent that we have dedicated much of the magazine to their efforts.

Managing the impact of Covid-19 meant that last March we had to transfer all of our teaching, learning and assessment to remote delivery. As early as January we had to look after students in China or due to travel to China, so we had a level of preparedness for the massive impact when the virus hit Ireland. In addition to looking after the learning needs of our students, we also ensured that our on-campus residences remained open in order to support the hundreds of students who had no safe alternative.

Planning for the new academic year was, I will readily admit, a challenge. We know the critical importance of personal contact for both the teaching and research components of college activity. The Student Experience Survey, completed by 5,000 UCD students in June, highlighted the importance of face-to-face contact for students, particularly in relation to mental wellbeing and health, and so, within the constraints of the national public health guidelines, we strive to provide a real campus experience for our students, academically and socially, as we continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic.

In September, we begin our Belfield 50 celebrations as we mark 50 years since the administration and faculties of law, arts, social sciences and business moved from Earlsfort Terrace to Belfield (page 76). Although some of the Belfield 50 programme we had planned cannot currently take place physically, I would like to invite you, our alumni, to join in and engage with the tours, exhibitions and conversations taking place at www.ucd.ie/belfield50. Belfield campus has come of age, and with the plans for the Centre for Creativity and the Centre for Future Learning progressing, I believe that we are putting in place world-class infrastructure that will support the next 50 years (and more) of this great University.