Master’s Email – Lent 2018

Phillips, Tom; Sir John Edward Sulston (b.1942); Pembroke College, Cambridge;

Sir John Sulston, painted by Tom Phillips, 2004

Just a few weeks ago, we were deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our most accomplished alumni, Nobel Prize-winner Professor Sir John Sulston CH FRS (1960).

Sir John was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 2002, for his contribution to the understanding of how genes control cell division and cell death in Caenorhabditis elegans. One of his other great achievements was leading the UK’s contribution to the draft Human Genome, insisting that all genomic data should be publicly accessible, part of his view that science was a public good. He was wonderfully adamant in his belief that knowledge had to be shared, not hoarded.

Pembroke too, as an institution, holds the same firm belief in the importance of knowledge as a public benefit. (I might even say it runs through our DNA!) And with this in mind, over the past few months, the Fellowship and student representatives have worked with me to develop a document outlining a Strategic Vision for Pembroke for the years leading up to 2030. We are living through a period of substantial change, both in our College and in the world of Higher Education: the excitements of the Mill Lane Project, the prospect of changes to academic funding at all levels, the challenges we will face from the impact of Brexit, and the reality that we are living in an uncertain world. This has all led us to reflect on what matters most to us, and where our ambitions should take us for the next fifteen years.

The College believes that Pembroke’s mission is to:

bring together the brightest students, from the broadest range of backgrounds; nurture outstanding research; provide the very best educational opportunities; and by doing so help to make a difference to the world.

We have identified five main strategic priorities that we will focus on:

• Strengthening the College’s academic success – we want to foster an environment that encourages excellence and independent thinking at undergraduate, graduate and Fellowship levels.

• Drawing our students from the widest possible range of backgrounds – this year’s admissions round saw 69% of offers go to state school-educated students and we have redoubled our schools outreach work to reach pupils right across the country and encourage them to apply.

• Enhancing the cohesiveness of the College community – we want everyone who studies and works at Pembroke to feel that they are part of the College family and be fully engaged with all of Pembroke’s activities.

• Providing the best buildings and facilities for our needs – as well as increasing the number of students who can stay on the College campus through the Mill Lane Project, we want to be able to offer the full range of academic and recreational opportunities, including affordable, well-maintained accommodation, cutting-edge teaching facilities, and of course excellent food.

• Taking a leading role in Cambridge and beyond – we are proud to be part of one of the world’s best universities and we want our students and Fellows to be empowered by being part of intellectual exchange with the wider academic community.

Please do download and read a full version (in PDF) of the document here: Pembroke Strategic Vision 2018-2030.

The Governing Body has already started to act on the document’s recommendations. Although we will not be increasing the number of students overall in the College, Pembroke will now admit undergraduates for every subject. This includes the introduction for the first time of Education, and the return of Geography (for which Pembroke last admitted a student in 2007).

You, our alumni, are important members of the Pembroke community and I hope our Strategic Vision 2018-2030 document will match your own hopes and aspirations for our College. We are ambitious for our future, we want to continue to aim high, and we remain deeply grateful for the help and support you give us in that endeavour.

With best wishes,

Lord (Chris) Smith
Master of Pembroke

P.S. On 30th March, our Head Porter, John Spelzini, and Housekeeper, Caroline Adams, will both be retiring after a combined service of nearly 34 years. If anyone would like to send in their best wishes to either John or Caroline, please contact the Development Office.

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