BEIRUT: Dr. Patrick Prendergast, the Provost/President of Trinity College Dublin, is on a flying visit through the MENA region to meet with other schools to discuss the concept of "globally connected and networked" universities.
Such globalized institutions, Prendergast said, are an inevitable result of accelerating technology, student expectations, and the need for students to have a cosmopolitan education.
Trinity is a 425-year-old institution that has stayed highly relevant throughout the centuries, and is widely considered as one of the world's top academies of learning. But to maintain this status, Prendergast has made it his personal mandate to constantly examine what defines a modern university in the quickly changing world of the 21st century.
"Universities are in a unique position to make connections," the Trinity Provost told Annahar during interview earlier this week at the Monot Hotel.
He was shortly enroute to meet with American University Beirut President Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri to discuss not only collaborations, but also voice his strong interest in the growing startup culture that is increasingly defining Beirut.
For Trinity, entrepreneurism is proving an emerging strong suit for the school which has been named for the last three years by Pitchbook as the university that produces the most entrepreneurs in Europe.
Since coming into office as Provost in 2011, Prendergast has strengthened Trinity's reputation as a university of global consequence, increasingly known for its research and scholarly endeavors that benefit Ireland and the world.
This comes on top of the school's already considerable fame and reputation.
Trinity's faculties range from Art, Humanities and Social Sciences, Engineering, Mathematics and Science, to the Faculty of Health and Science. Within these core faculties are 24 academic schools.
Predergast has overseen the development of a Global Relations Strategy at Trinity, which has doubled international student enrolments and student mobility; and has engaged with industry through a recently developed Innovation & Entrepreneurship Strategy.
Projects under development include the new Trinity School of Business co-located with an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub, as well as the development of the E3: the Engineering, Energy, and the Environment Institute.
Trinity is only a few hundred yards away from the European headquarters of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter, and dozens of other household tech brand names; a proximity used to mutual synergy by Trinity and the nearby high-tech companies.
In addition to this nearby wealth of dot-com brands, Trinity is also the business of creating its own companies through the ongoing expansion of its Innovation and Expansion Hub which encompasses a number of incubators, including LaunchBox, Blackstone LaunchPad, LaunchLabs, Innovation Academy, EIT Health, and Raw Materials incubator.
Prior to his appointment as Provost, Predergast was a Professor of Bioengineering, where he introduced the teaching of biomechanics into the engineering curriculum, founded the Masters in Programme in Bioengineering, and published several hundred articles related to implant design and tissue mechanobiology, according to Trinity's school bio.
He was appointed by the European Commission to the Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) in 2012. He participated in the Glion Colloquium an independent think tank committed to the future of research universities at which he spoke on Global Research Question and Institutional Research Strategies in 2015, and will speak on university leadership in 2017 at the latest iteration of the colloquium.
The interest in visiting the American University Beirut is natural, as AUB also has a strong world and regional reputation spanning a number of majors, including a newly introduced Center for Research and Innovation (CRInn), launched on February 2015. CRInn is driven by a main goal to establish a hub for emerging creative, promising and innovative entrepreneurial AUB students, staff, and faculty members. Since 2011, AUB's Olayan Business School has featured the Samih Darwazah Center for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship.
Also, Beirut is home to a number of highly successful startup incubators and accelerators, along with bootstrap startups that achieved business velocity with their own investment.
Banque du Liban launched a multi-million dollar loan stimulus program for the ICT sector that continues to result in a markedly expanding Beirut startup ecosystem. According to the Central Bank, there were currently 800 startups as of mid-201, providing up to 6,000 employment opportunities and adding to the Lebanese treasury around one billion dollars.
The knowledge economy in Lebanon is posting an average annual growth rate of between seven and nine percent.
For Trinity, with its already strong emphasis on producing entrepreneurial graduates, both AUB and Lebanon look like a strong fit.
AUB President Fadlo R. Khuri told Annahar that “as the Arab world's oldest and finest university, the American University of Beirut has a great deal of synergy with Trinity College of Dublin—one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland and Ireland's oldest and finest university.”
"A strategic alliance between them will afford stellar students from both universities additional pedagogical and research opportunities, and lead to collaborations in the generation of new knowledge and entrepreneurism which is highly desirable,” the AUB President added
Reached by email after leaving Beirut, Trinity Provost Predergast said "it was clear that it was a meeting between two like-minded universities, where there is a great deal of opportunity for future cooperation in research and student exchange.”
An-Nahar is not responsible for the comments that users post below. We kindly ask you to keep this space a clean and respectful forum for discussion.