Presidents' Meeting 2022
Presidents' Meeting 2022
For the first time in two years, the IARU Presidents were able to meet in person (with Peking University joining online), to discuss and share ideas on common challenges and areas of interest.
In Downing College, Cambridge, the Presidents heard first- hand about how international scientific collaboration has been fundamentally changed as a result of the pandemic through a joint presentation by Professor Sir Andrew Pol- lard (University of Oxford), the chief investigator in the clinical trials for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vac- cine, and Dr Tonya Villafana (Vice President, Global Fran- chise Head, AstraZeneca) who led the late-stage develop- ment of the vaccine.
A session led by Cambridge’s Professor Ian Leslie focused on crucial questions around sustainability and how to balance effective academic collaboration while also lead- ing by example in reducing the carbon footprint of univer- sities.
The attendees continued their conversations over dinners in the picturesque medieval grounds of Trinity Hall and Queens’ College. After visits to the Wren Library at Trinity College and evensong at King’s College Chapel, a final tour of the Sainsbury’s Laboratory of
plant sciences gave attendees the opportunity to learn about one of the University’s cutting-edge scientific facilities.
The meeting generated exciting ideas for fresh dialogue in areas of common interest, and several suggestions for the sharing of strategies and data. The Presidents are looking forward to developing these ideas at their next meeting in January 2023 at ETH Zürich.
The Future of Work
The huge changes brought about by the pandemic have left a lasting impact on the work culture of all IARU institutions. Professor Kamal Munir, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge, gave a presentation on how Cambridge has coped with adopting hybrid working patterns and the implications for teaching and research. Professor Henrik Wegener, Rector of the University of Copenhagen, explored the changing nature of work culture at Copenhagen and outlined how the university had dealt with the challenges that had arisen during the pandemic.
This session provided the Presidents with an opportunity to compare the situations in their own institu- tions. The discussion then widened to consider the implications of hybrid working for academic teaching, team cohesion and inclusion.
Building a Mentoring Culture
The President of the National University of Singapore, Professor Eng Chye Tan, and Associate Professor Sau Kim Lum, led an engaging session on how NUS approaches the subject of mentoring for its early-career academics. This was a topic of great interest to the other IARU Presidents who shared their own perspectives and procedures for supporting on junior academics at the crucial early stage of their careers.
The benefits of academic staff development and retention, the intense competition for tenured academic posts, and the challenges of changing an institutional culture were key themes of the session.
The attendees agreed that the mentoring of researchers could be a promising future area of collaboration for IARU members.
ALH and Librarians' Contact Group Updates
The Presidents were very pleased to be joined by Dr Louise Lafortune (Group Lead and Cambridge repre- sentative for the Ageing, Longevity and Health Initiative), who gave an overview of the current work of the group.
In their research into healthy ageing, the ALH Initiative has benefitted greatly from the truly international membership of IARU. This has meant that the group has been able to translate their fundamental under- standing of the challenges around ageing into different settings around the world, building upon each other’s knowledge.
Joining the Presidents online, Richard Ovenden (Bodley’s Librarian, Univer- sity of Oxford) outlined the im- portance of sharing knowledge and support in the Librarians’ Contact Group, focusing on their work on benchmarking and the ongoing discussion of the evolving role of libraries that was intensified by COVID-19.