Dear Members and Friends,
These are extraordinary times.
I returned at the end of March from a sabbatical term away, to a Cambridge, and King’s, in lockdown – the streets (very properly) empty, and our usual busy paths and spaces in College deserted; the Hall, the great centre of our communal life, is closed and empty. This crisis has come upon the College very rapidly, and in my absence the Acting Officers, together with the Bursars and Senior Tutor have managed the great complexities of the past weeks brilliantly; I’m extremely grateful to them.
As you will know, the great majority of our students have returned home, and there is neither face-to-face teaching in the coming Easter Term nor examinations in Cambridge. Our academic and teaching staff have been working with Departments and the central University on how assessments and the delivery of teaching will operate, and with students to manage and address their queries and concerns.
We know that the Easter term is not going to be as any of us would have imagined, or hoped. This will be difficult in myriad ways, but for final year students particularly. We don’t know at this stage when they will be coming back to King’s. You will all be able to imagine and empathise with what they will miss in not having a final term, and all that is associated with the end of Cambridge life. Be assured that we are fully focussed on our students finishing their degrees, and how we can best mark their achievement later in the year.
A small number - just over 60 - of our students, both undergraduate and graduate, have needed to remain in College, and we are making sure they are supported and looked after; by the Tutorial Office and Directors of Studies of course, but also by the Lay Dean, the Chaplain and College nurse, and by our fantastic porters who are still present around the clock. And many of you have also unknowingly provided aid - in the days leading up to the lockdown some overseas students were struggling to get home, and we were able to use the existing College student hardship funds to help with flights. Our thanks, as ever, to everyone who contributes to these so generously.
King’s, as across the Collegiate University, is engaged on many different fronts in the fight against COVID-19 and tackling the effects of the pandemic. Our academics, students and alumni are among those helping in various ways, including a number of our King’s medical Fellows and graduates who are working at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge either on the front line of COVID treatment or running other services that need to keep going during the crisis. We’ll be sharing some of their stories over the weeks to come.
Many of you will have seen the message to alumni from the Vice-Chancellor last month, setting out the measures the University has put in place to co-ordinate offers of help and expertise. We have already heard from some alumni who have responded. If you have been involved in this or in other ways please do let us know – we would love to know how King’s members across the world are helping in this unprecedented global challenge.
It will be deeply strange not to be marking Easter this year with our usual concerts and services in the Chapel. I’m delighted however that webcasts of choral services from previous years and short special spoken recordings from the Dean are being made available every day online; and that we will all be able to enjoy the BBC Easter from King’s broadcast, recorded before the current situation developed.
King’s is, and always will be, a real community. I have seen this from afar these past weeks, and now I’m back I am more aware of it than ever. My warmest wishes to you all, wherever you are in the world and whatever you are having to deal with. Thank you, as always, for all that you do for King’s; and keep well and safe.
Professor Michael Proctor, Provost of King's