From the beginning, Queen’s has been a witness to history – two World Wars, as well as social, political and economic change both at home and on a global scale. As our university has grown over the past 175 years there have been many challenges for us and the society we serve but few could have predicted the devastating consequences of the one we face today – the Covid 19 pandemic.
However I am confident that when future historians look back on 2020 they will record that we faced this crisis with fortitude – as a bulwark, to quote from Seamus Heaney’s centenary stanza – and with resilience. The need for resilience is something we instil in our students and it is a quality we are demonstrating collectively as we approach the end of this extraordinary year.
While we have adapted our activities to cope with the uniquely difficult current circumstances we have also kept sight of our overall mission and purpose, working to a strategy that can evolve and respond to changes in the environment and to new opportunities. Our ambitions as a university have not altered. Indeed they have been reinforced.
Our vision is to conduct leading-edge education and research, focused on the needs of society. Queen’s has always been a generator of knowledge. We shape and serve the world around us. We tackle the issues faced by individuals and societies at a local, regional and global level and we are an engine of progress that is central to the socio-economic recovery of Northern Ireland. Education will provide the skills that Northern Ireland needs and our research will drive the innovations that will help to stimulate the economy.
Our campus reflects a world that is very different from that of 1849 when the first students crossed the threshold of the new Queen’s College Belfast. Queen’s University 2020 is truly international. It champions inclusivity, diversity and social responsibility and all aspects of sustainability as we build a better future. Our people embrace our core values – Integrity, Connected, Ambition, Respect and Excellence. These underpin everything that we do.
While we reflect on our achievements over the past 175 years, our focus is on the future. We will continue to achieve our ambitions through life-changing education and research and through investment in our people, both students and staff, creating thoughtful, truly global citizens. I have every confidence that they and their university can look ahead to a bright future.