This address was given by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Alec Broers, on 1 October in the Senate-House.

This address was given by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Alec Broers, on 1 October in the Senate-House.

1. Members of the Regent House: No-one here today can have failed to miss the preparatory trumpets signaling the century's end and the third millennium. Historians and the numerate may cavil at the calculations, but that is a lost cause. Most people will regard the coming Congregation as the last such occasion of the twentieth century, and the coming academical year as the first of the twenty-first. Dr Hill, the Master of Downing and Vice Chancellor, speaking in this Senate-House exactly a century ago, passed by the chronological event without comment. He was speaking at almost the high point of Victorian/Edwardian achievement and prosperity. The British Empire was nearly at its height. The Commonwealth of Australia (if I dare say it) was still a mere geographical expression. Steam and steel ruled the world. Mercifully for him perhaps he could not foresee the shocks to come, and the passing away within a lifetime of almost everything which then seemed so strong and stable. 5,307 of our graduates were to be killed or wounded in battle within nineteen years, a reminder that this and the other conflicts in the past century exacted a heavy price which is still being paid.

2. The turn of the century saw the birth of the electronic age, and Cambridge has perhaps more claim than any other place to have raised the curtain on this era. As we close the century the electronic age is being accelerated almost unbelievably by the digital revolution. And still, nowhere outside America is the understanding of technology "the genius for creativity", as David Potter has termed it, more apparent than it is within a mile's radius of this building. The second half of the century similarly saw the birth of biotechnology in Cambridge and again the region remains preeminent. But times have changed and today working at the intellectual frontiers of most scientific subjects means teaming up with global leaders wherever they may be. Cambridge has adapted to this environment rapidly and effectively. In addition to innumerable international collaborations, several of the world's leading research organisations have chosen to come to Cambridge to work with us, recognising our ability to generate ideas that change the world. The University was successful in bidding for the University Challenge fund and in being awarded one of the new Entrepreneurship Centres and this month the Prime Minister chose to launch his initiative on e-commerce in Cambridge recognising the network of excellence that has built up around the University in information technology.

3. The opportunities and dangers posed by the accelerated change in the way we live brought about by modern technology will be clear to us all. What may be less clear is the need to devise new social and economic structures to match the changed circumstances of work and communication. Important too is the need never to overlook the humane needs of our selves and our society, a role in which the University is equally strong. That will be one of my themes this morning. The other will be the need to increase the number of women in all areas where theyare under-represented.

4. Universities have been held in respect for centuries as much for the breadth of their intellectual activities as for their ability to specialize. It is through an understanding of literature, language, philosophy and history that advances in science and technology can be brought into perspective, especially the social consequences of these developments. Cambridge's achievements in the twentieth century have often been thought of largely in terms of the sciences and technology, a genuine record, and one recognised in international competition and through the receipt of prizes. But we must not forget that some of the most eminent figures connected with the University have been in the humanities: Empson, Richards and Leavis in literature; Moore, Russell and Wittgenstein in Philosophy; Maitland, Butterfield, Needham and Elton in history; Keynes in economics. If we also consider the pre-eminence of our graduates in the theatre and opera, the extent of our contribution will be clear.

5. Nor is this a past record only. About one in seven of the present Fellowship of the British Academy has a Cambridge affiliation, and no fewer than 13 of our Research Units of Assessment in the Arts, Humanities and Social sciences achieved a 5* rating in the last Research Assessment Exercise. The vibrancy of current Cambridge music, drama, and poetry will be very clear as the new Term starts.

6. An exciting possibility under consideration, and which Quentin Skinner, as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, is actively exploring, is the establishment of a new Humanities Research Centre to draw together some of the activities at present dispersed around the arts faculties, often with inadequate support and accommodation. Such a venture, if funding and accommodation could be found, would facilitate a major, co-ordinated visiting fellowship programme; provide a venue for short visits by eminent international scholars; and help to focus advanced research, seminars and lectures in the humanities on a single site. If we glance back a century and realise the dispersed and ad hoc arrangements then made for science subjects, we can see clearly the potential for housing advanced study in the arts in the century ahead.

7. Deeply relevant in this context is the role of the University Press. In the humanities the monograph continues to be the principal medium for the conceptualisation, organization, and presentation of primary research and is therefore vital to the dissemination and assessment of leading-edge academic activity. Thus the role of the Press --our Press-- is crucial to Cambridge's standing across a wide range of disciplines, and the Press's overriding objective -- 'the dissemination of knowledge through printing and publishing'-- is integral to our activities. I pay tribute to the Press's achievements and standards in this field, and look forward to working closely with Jeremy Mynott, its new Chief Executive, whom we welcome today.

8. Another area where we maintain breadth through outreach is in continuing education. In keeping with the increased importance being attached to lifelong learning by Government, the Board of Continuing Education has continued to provide a wide range of lifelong learning opportunities. 13,000 learners benefitted from these opportunities last year. A record number of countries were represented in the International Summer School programme and the prestigious Programme for Industry's "Prince of Wales' Business in the Environment" seminar series ran with great success, both in Cambridge and in Saltzburg. Lifelong and distance learning across the University is being reviewed by a committee under the chairmanship of Pro-Vice- Chancellor Anne Lonsdale, with a view to formulating policies for the University.

9. Turning to my second theme, it is a disappointing fact that only 4% of all UK directors are women according to FTSE figures. Similarly our proportion of women professors within the University is disheartening - only 5.7% . Yet we must put this in historical context. Sixty years ago in May 1939 Dorothy Garrod was the first woman to be elected to a professorship in the University, and she served as the Disney Professor of Archaeology until her retirement in1952. Her achievement - that she became a professor but as a woman was still not entitled to be recognised as a graduate - makes it a particularly important anniversary and one that prompts reflection on the representation of women amongst senior academics today. Women are still having to push the boundaries at Cambridge - Sandra Dawson was appointed earlier this year the first woman to head a former men's college when she became Master of Sidney Sussex College. It is important that we support and enable women to continue to make these `ground-breaking' or rather `ceiling-breaking' achievements until the
y are no longer remarkable because of gender.

10. Last year, in the Senate-House, we celebrated the belated full recognition of women as members of the University, and I have been greatly touched by the continuing letters of appreciation still received from women graduates. Just a couple of weeks ago, Anne Lonsdale as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and I attended a similar celebration in San Francisco, elegantly hosted by Cate Muther. In her address to the distinguished assembly, Anne pointed out that the celebration in the Senate-House had made an impression on Cambridge that will last for ever. This is surely the time therefore, sixty years after Dorothy Garrod's historic breakthrough, and 25 years after Rosemary Murray became our first female Vice-Chancellor (and only the second ever in the UK), that we must make a serious commitment to increase the representation of women at the highest levels in the University.

11. And we are doing many positive things right now. Firstly, on a practical note, we are helping to finance new nurseries to help with childcare. Our children's holiday Playscheme also frees up women and men to continue with research through the school vacations whilst their families are well looked after. The University has funded an innovative research programme to investigate the indicators of academic performance relating to gender on a University-wide basis. This programme examines complex issues about how genders are treated within colleges and faculties, and why women get fewer firsts but more 2.1s than men. One of the University's goals is the on-going review of family friendly employment measures, including schemes for flexible working and the need for a career break.

12. We have also introduced new procedures for the appointment and promotion of academics. The process of increasing women's representation is impeded by a number of structural factors, not least the high proportion of our academics in fields where women are, for historic reasons, badly represented nationally. Women are still not applying in the same proportion as men for senior jobs, neither academic posts or senior posts elsewhere in the University. It has to be admitted that the recent early retirement exercise led to a fall in the number of senior women reducing their percentage from 17.6% in 1997 to 15.8% in 1999, although the proportion of women Readers and Lecturers has grown, and on average women appointed to these positions are younger. In contrast, we have a very large proportion of women in positions of senior governance in the University. Last year 9 out of 21 members of the University Council, the executive and policy-making body, were women; a healthy 43%. This year the number remains a respectable 33%.

13. Just as the status of women in the University - and indeed more widely - was an enduring theme for the first half of the present century, we are firmly committed in the first years of the new century to addressing - but far more rapidly - the current imbalance at every level - from appointment, to retention to promotion.

14. Whilst not wishing to chronicle the events of the last year in detail as is done in the published Annual Report of the University and the reports of the Council and General Board, there are some events I wish to mention.

15. In the past year we have seen significant progress on a number of important building projects and overall David Adamson, the director of Estate Management tells me, we have 170 million pounds of buildings under construction. In June we topped out the wonderful new Mathematics Complex at Clarkson Road. The central building and two of the pavilions are now close to completion. The sod was broken for the new Divinity building in November and the building is now rising rapidly above the ground on the Sidgwick Avenue site. Also on the Sidgwick site the refurbishment of the Raised Faculty Building is close to completion providing improved facilities for Philosophy, Modern Languages and English. And finally, the first of the new clinical research laboratories on the Island Site at Addenbrooke's was opened and the ground broken for the second. Keith Peters' leadership of clinical research in Cambridge is bearing fruit in a remarkable way.

16. Last year was also the year when the new funding mechanisms that will replace the College fees were largely put in place. This required extensive negotiations with government and between the Colleges and the University and I am pleased to say that all of these negotiations were carried out with a positive spirit of collaboration. Much credit must go to the members of the Fees Subcommittee of the Bursar's Committee and to the Colleges' Committee.

17. The University and the Colleges have also worked closely over the last year to expand our access campaign. Our target is students in schools who don't apply to Cambridge. Students who have the talent but not the encouragement. Last autumn posters encouraging students to Put yourself in the picture about Cambridge were sent to every secondary school and FE college in the country. The Facts, a brochure which aims to encourage those who are anxious about our admission process, was also widely distributed.

18. We continue to make further commitments to encouraging more applications from ethnic minorities, through the work of the GEEMA (the Group for Encouraging Ethnic Minority Applicants). The GEEMA summer school, the Young Black Achievers Challenge, and our main summer school continue to drive home the message each year that Cambridge welcomes students from every background. This year, an unprecedented number of students from our GEEMA and Target Schools visited state schools to demystify Cambridge. Their commitment and their enthusiasm to widen access is perhaps the thing that we should be most proud of and it is the most effective tool for breaking down the stereotypes. We applaud them whole-heartedly.

19. Finally, we are putting our money behind our commitment. Access is one issue. Hardship is another. The Colleges have always been good at dealing with individual cases for hardship but they are also expanding existing schemes for bursaries for undergraduates. It is very important that no student is put off from coming to Cambridge because of money.

20. Amongst the host of national and international awards received by members of the University I must mention the Fields Medals awarded to Richard Borcherds and Tim Gowers; the Nobel Prize received by Amartya Sen, the fourth of the last five masters of Trinity to be so honoured, probably an unmatched record; and the Queen's Anniversary Prize given to the Isaac Newton Institute. To these and to many others we record our heartfelt congratulations.

21. Turning to matters of sadness and regret, this year we have lost many colleagues and friends. Amongst those we mourn are: Sir Alan Hodgkin, formerly Master of Trinity; Kate Bertram, the second President of Lucy Cavendish; and Dr W.W. Grave, former Registrary and first Master of Fitzwilliam College. Dr George Rylands, incomparable benefactor of the Arts and ADC Theatres died at the great age of 96, and we lost Roger Andrew, for over twenty-five years Bursar of Sidney and in recent years President of the Society for Visiting Scholars. We also mourn Jack Plumley, Professor of Egyptology, John Holloway, Professor of English, and Professor John Coales, a distinguished engineer who contributed to England's preeminence in radar. And I must mention especially Ken Knell, Librarian of the Engineering Department for many years. Ken's was a remarkable career, devoted apart from his war service entirely to the University. Starting as a junior assistant in the University Library he overcame physical disability to rise - tirelessly cheerful and efficient - to the top of his profession, and to lead a happy and fulfilled retirement as a popular member of his College. His life was an inspiration to us all.

22. I can refer to only a few of those who step down from their University duties. Tony Wilson for seven years added insight and sustained loyalty to
the University to his impeccable and successful leadership of the Press and Sandy Goehr brought lustre to the Professorship of Music. Alan Cuthbert and Gabriel Horn, both Deputy Vice-Chancellors, retired from their respective College headships, and John Easterling from the office of University Draftsman in which he was the unfailingly helpful and creative aide to generations of those amending University regulations, as well as playing a pivotal role in the massive task of implementing the Wass reforms and producing the Reporter each week. Graeme Rennie served the Education Committee and masterminded our successes in quality assessment and Mike Hughes will be sadly missed as the guide and mentor of praelectors and graduands. I must make special mention of Roger Needham for his contributions as Pro-Vice- Chancellor and as Professor of Computer Systems? To all these, and to the many others whose working careers have come to an end, I send sincere thanks and good wishes for the future.

23. No-one spending the time I do in the Old Schools could fail to be deeply impressed by the tireless commitment of the lean administrative staff that supports the University. On your behalf I place on record again my admiration of and thanks for their efforts, so willingly given and so far beyond the call of duty. I have been immeasurably helped by the Principal Officers, by the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, by the Deputy Vice-Chancellors, and by the scores of members of the Regent House who have taken on the growing burden of chairing boards, syndicates and committees. My own office continues to perform superbly, refusing to be overwhelmed by the relentless avalanche of paper, and my wife's help and support and the work of the staff at 5 Latham Road make possible the theoretical impossibility of my range of engagements.

24. And so, as I said at the start, we come to the beginning - historical niceties apart - of the transitional academical year of the century and the millennium. Let us pause for a moment to consider what it would have been like when those scholars, tired, unwelcome perhaps, confused, first assembled quite near this spot nearly eight hundred years ago. Determined as they were they could scarcely have predicted that the university they were about to create would become one of the leading intellectual institutions of the world. And a world vastly greater in intellectual breadth than they could possibly have imagined. I am sure that they would have been proud of us as we are of them. But they had the advantage that they could maintainsome understanding across the breadth of human intellectual endeavour. At least to comprehend the elements of the various disciplines. This must have brought a satisfaction that is scarcely possible today. Even a basic understanding of the advances in science and technology requires specialisation. But we must still strive for a balance between the arts and humanities and the sciences and technologies. This has been one of my themes today. The other has been the need to achieve a balance between the sexes. I am convinced that achieving these balances will be a prerequisite for success in the century ahead.

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