Dear colleagues and friends of UCD,
One hundred and sixty years ago UCD was founded as an independent university, and the great nineteenth century educationalist, John Henry Newman, was appointed as the first rector to establish and shape its future. From these humble beginnings, Newman envisioned the growth of "a flourishing University, which for a while had to struggle with fortune, but which, when its first founders and servants were dead and gone, had successes far exceeding their anxieties".
UCD has indeed flourished over these 160 years, making a unique and substantial contribution to the creation of modern Ireland, counting amongst its graduates three Presidents, four Taoisigh, five ministers in the current cabinet and six of Ireland's European Commissioners. UCD's contributions to business, science, the arts, culture and sport over this period are equally impressive, and the great author, James Joyce, remains our most well-known alumnus. At the same time, UCD has grown to become Ireland's largest and most globally engaged university, attracting more first preferences from Irish students than any other university in the country, becoming the destination of choice for international students coming to Ireland and educating some 5,000 students at locations outside Ireland.
While our achievements are impressive, we cannot rest on our laurels. During the last 160 years the world has changed (and continues to change) at an extraordinary rate. Since the 1980s the Internet has revolutionised global communication and the way business is conducted. The Global Economic Crisis of 2008 demonstrated the extent to which countries and economies around the world are now interconnected. Multinational companies and organisations are increasingly multicultural and internationally mobile in the headquartering of their operations.
Over the same period of time, the global university environment has changed. Students have become increasingly internationally mobile, with many undertaking part or all of their university education in another country. Appreciation of the benefits of educating university students in a research intensive environment, together with the benefits to society of the knowledge and innovation generated by universities, has seen an increasing emphasis on the need for academics to be undertaking both teaching and research at the highest level.
The competitiveness of Ireland is dependent on the competitiveness of its universities, as it is the universities which educate our future leaders in all spheres of life and generate the intellectual property and innovation which provide the country with its competitive edge. However, the flourishing of Ireland requires more than just material contributions. The study and discussion of people, society, culture, languages and the creative arts are also characteristics of a flourishing society. As Ireland's largest university, with its great strength and diversity of disciplines, UCD has a duty to make significant contributions in each of these domains. This strategy sets out our ambition for contributing to the flourishing of Ireland and the world.
This strategy is the result of a strategic planning process undertaken by our University community over the last eight months. The strategy states clearly our mission, values, and our vision for what UCD should be by 2020. Ten key objectives are then set out. These objectives will shape our planning and decision making at all levels of the University, in order to ensure we achieve the vision. In our planning processes we will use reflexive decision making which engages the entire University community, so that our actions are responsive to conditions, needs and opportunities at every level. The strategy also introduces six exciting major strategic initiatives which will be undertaken at University level in pursuit of the objectives. We will review progress against the objectives annually, and update plans as necessary to ensure our success.
Professor Andrew J Deeks
President, University College Dublin