Beginning work on this, your second issue of InTouch Online, I have been reflecting on 2020. The theme of ‘Discovery’ seemed fitting as this is the year that the world faced a newly discovered virus.
In ‘King’s Impact’, we review the amazing response of the King’s community to COVID-19, whether through our scientists who immediately began researching the virus, our medics who flocked to the front line, our volunteers who stepped up to help in whichever way they could, or our donors who gave generously. Our President & Principal, Professor Sir Edward Byrne AC, reflects on the impact of the King’s community and how proud and grateful he is to all of you.
This year, the events surrounding the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake have highlighted racial disparities that have pervaded our societies for generations. Black Lives Matter protests have been taking place in many countries. These events have called attention to some of the challenges UK universities still face today and the need to make meaningful and sustainable change in academia. In ‘Inside King’s’, Professor ‘Funmi Olonisakin, Vice-President and Vice-Principal International, along with Sarah Guerra, Director of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion and Dr Liam Liburd, Lecturer in Colonial/Postcolonial British History, discuss why inequalities persist in academia today and the strategies King’s is implementing to promote racial equality.
2020 has also been a year to celebrate service. This year marks 200 years since Florence Nightingale’s birth. To celebrate this, the World Health Organization has designated 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. King’s has been training nurses and midwives since 1860, and one thing all our nursing and midwifery alumni have in common is their incredible dedication to their patients and the health service. 2020 has highlighted just how our alumni continue to go above and beyond. We explore some of their stories in ‘Service to Society’.
In this issue, we also speak to Britain’s fastest woman, Dina Asher-Smith (History, 2017), in ‘What I’ve Learned’. Just a year after graduating from King’s, Dina won three gold medals at the European Championships. She tells InTouch Online how she balanced training and study and how she found her time at King’s.
The end of the year also brings a farewell, as this is our last academic year with Professor Sir Edward Byrne AC at the helm. Professor Byrne was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in tribute to his long and distinguished career as an eminent medical practitioner and gifted academic leader. I am sure I speak for all of us when I thank him for the vision, direction and impact he has enabled here at King’s. In June, we are delighted to be able to welcome Professor Shitij Kapur, who has been appointed the new President & Principal of King’s. Professor Byrne will be leaving us in January, and we are thrilled that Professor Evelyn Welch, Provost/Senior Vice President (Arts & Sciences), will take on the role of Interim President & Principal from February 2021, ahead of Professor Kapur’s arrival.
You can find out more about Professor Kapur here and I’m sure you will all join me in welcoming him to his new appointment – why not share a message to him in the comments section?