I first met Linda Doyle five years ago when I was the Dean of Graduate Studies and, almost immediately, she became one of the handful of people to whom I would repeatedly turn whenever I needed advice or support. When she was Dean of Research, she was my primary go-to person within the leadership team in the university whenever I needed help or encouragement. The reasons why I leaned so heavily on her are also the reasons why I am supporting her in this Provost election campaign.
First, she has the broadest, most exciting and most well thought through vision for all of the issues that face the university, of anyone to whom I have spoken or with whom I have dealt in my 25 years in college. Secondly, she is as kind, as caring and as respectful as anyone I am lucky enough to know. To rely on her, in other words, (as I unashamedly did) was to have my strategic vision expanded and energised while feeling supported, endorsed and looked after. I want this for everyone – for the entire university community. That is why I want Linda Doyle to be Provost.
Let me sum up what I mean.
The depth and breadth of Linda’s vision – her imaginative exploration of unexplored but achievable possibilities – is extraordinary. One of my many faults, especially in my early days as Dean, was that I had been so rooted in my own discipline that I found it difficult to get my head around the priorities of other, different disciplines (much as I wanted to). It was Linda, however, with her knowledge of and sensitivity to the needs of all disciplines in the university, who helped me to broaden my horizons.
More generally, whenever I had what I thought was an innovative idea to develop graduate education and went to discuss it with Linda, it invariably turned out that, not merely had she already considered it, but that she had done so in a far more nuanced way than I had, had thought through the potential pitfalls, had worked out the financial cost involved and, most remarkably, had a plan for how this cost could be met.This was true across the whole spectrum of university activity – teaching, research, administration and everything else. On countless occasions I came away from meetings with her, bewildered as to the breadth of her knowledge and experience, the freshness of her ideas and her extraordinary capacity to translate what I thought were unrealistic pipe dreams into achievable realities.
I first met Linda Doyle five years ago when I was the Dean of Graduate Studies and, almost immediately, she became one of the handful of people to whom I would repeatedly turn whenever I needed advice or support
Of course, if I had known then what I know now about exactly how much Linda Doyle has achieved, this would have been less surprising to me. But I didn’t – because she didn’t tell me. She is one of those people whose modesty is such that her achievements are less well known than those of others. But in fact, her track record of achievement as a leader and as a scholar is quite simply extraordinary.
The remarkable success of CONNECT. The amount of research money brought into College by her. Her record as a lecturer, a supervisor, a tutor, a postgraduate advisor. Her delivery of a 21st century research strategy for the university. The esteem with which she is held by partners in industry, government and in universities throughout the world. Though she is too modest to talk much about this, she has a constant and long running record of outstanding leadership that has always delivered – and delivered well beyond expectations – often in very difficult circumstances. If she is elected Provost, in other words, Trinity will have a leader with an unequalled track record for delivery.
Linda’s capacity for visionary leadership is enhanced by her uncompromising respect for everyone whom she encounters. This is not a facile or enfeebling thing; she leads and she leads brilliantly. But she is one of those gifted leaders who leads not by hectoring or intimidation but by supporting, by consulting and, especially, by listening to, respecting and seeking to accommodate the views and concerns of all. Nothing, I believe, is more important and more needed in the next Provost.
You see, at a very personal level, I love Trinity College Dublin deeply. I love the grounds, I love what it stands for. I love the research it produces, but most of all, I love the endlessly fascinating human community that makes it worthwhile. I believe that if the university is to be constant to the ideals for which it stands, it must always, always respect the views of all members of its community and that its leaders must have a clear obligation to demonstrate this respect in practice. Finally, I believe that no community can reach its potential unless it is led in a way that sees kindness, decency and respect for others as non-negotiable values.
Linda’s capacity for visionary leadership is enhanced by her uncompromising respect for everyone whom she encounters
Perhaps it is just me, but I have a sense that many people do not see these values being reflected in Trinity now and long for a seismic culture change in the way in which the university centrally treats all members of its community. I have a sense that people feel generally disrespected, or feel ignored on matters of importance to them and their work. So, more than anything, I want the next Provost to be someone who will be truly collegiate by genuinely respecting the views and the interests of every single member of the college community.
Linda is, for me, the embodiment of these values. From a very early point in my time knowing her, I was astounded that someone could be simultaneously so effective as a leader and so warm and affirming as a human. When I was Dean of Graduate Studies, Linda was my model of leadership. She is, quite simply, an extraordinarily good human being – and I believe this is a vital quality for the next provost of Trinity.
This is why I want Linda Doyle to be elected Provost.She is visionary, she is innovative, she is detail focused without being pedantic, she is brilliant, she is generous, she is supportive, she is collegiate and she is kind.
She would be the most wonderful Provost I could imagine.