In an interview with Bryan Dobson on RTÉ Radio 1 this afternoon, Provost Elect Professor Linda Doyle said that there is more that universities can do to get students back on campus, including rapid testing.
“There’ll be students now who have had two academic years disrupted,” she said. She continued saying that Trinity is “looking at rapid testing”.
This comes after Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Research Simon Harris announced the rolling out of four rapid testing schemes across four college campuses.
Doyle said she was “really delighted” to see this new proposal and she believes that this can “really help effectively”. She emphasized the need for “clarity” in order for College to “plan and move forward in a constructive way for our students”.
Doyle also said that she is “absolutely hopeful” that students will be back on campus in September and that this is “so so important for the welfare of students and for their learning”. However she believes “there will be some restrictions” such as mask wearing in gatherings.
Later in the interview, Doyle was asked about proposed changes to universities governance in a new bill brought forward by government. The bill would slim down the size of College Board and see government appointees make up a portion of the board members. Trinity has previously expressed its opposition to this bill citing concerns over the College’s institutional autonomy.
To this question, Doyle said although the bill’s focus on “accountability and good governance” “absolutely hugely important” but the bill “sees there only being one way to have that good governance”.
“To me it’s really important to have strong autonomous independent institutions,” she added. “The autonomy piece is very important to us as well.”
Doyle expressed her openness to the idea of having an independent chair of the board, a seat which the provost traditionally fills. She said she is “completely happy for there to be an independent chair” and “that could be one way of improving things”.
Doyle was also asked how she plans to deal with Trinity’s colonial past in light of the spotlight the Black Lives Matter movement has placed on historical figures who were associated with slavery. She stated that “we in Trinity are addressing that”. She believes it is College’s responsibility to “dig into our past” and “take appropriate action”.
Professor Doyle is the first woman to ever hold the position of Provost in Trinity. Dobson closed the interview by asking Doyle what she believes this means for young women and girls. “It’s a really powerful symbolic message,” Doyle said. She wants to see diversification of the role in the future saying that although last Saturday “was an extraordinary day” “this needs to be an ordinary day”.