Linda Doyle: 45th Provost of Trinity College Dublin: Building an AI Empowered University with Community at its Core

Linda Doyle was officially installed as the 45th Provost of Trinity College Dublin in August 2021. She is the first female Provost in the institution’s over 430 year history and we profiled her in the run up to that election (see podcast here:

Now two years on, we wanted to check in with Linda as to how those first two years of her 10 year tenure have gone, and to discuss her priorities and outlook for the next few years. Prior to being elected Provost, she was a professor of engineering and the arts at Trinity College, Dublin, a fellow of the college and our research and focused on themes of telecommunications and creative arts practices.

Our conversation starts with a reflection on the last two years, and on the challenges of re-establishing in-person learning post-Covid, a situation that immediately faced her upon her election.  We reflect on the changes that Covid wrought – both in terms of the resilience that it created, but also the learnings around the integration of virtual and in-person education modules, the importance of community and the challenges of sustainability.

These first few months were extraordinary challenging – akin to a baptism by fire, and we discuss that learning curve and how it shaped the beginning of her tenure.  We move then to Linda’s original agenda around making Trinity College Dublin a “Climate First” institution with sustainability at its core.  We illustrate how this has been achieved and the shifts to the curriculum that are being made in response to shifting demands of the workplace and academic life.

We discuss leadership style – in her campaign Linda had described her vision of leadership as service rather than power, and she describes the leadership team that she has established to enable delegation and reach. We discuss the role of student advocacy, and how that shapes the institution’s, and some of the pervasive challenges facing all public institutions with respect to government funding.

One of the most emblematic changes for me during Linda’s tenure to date was the installation of four busts of female scientists and scholars in the famous Long Room at Trinity College.  These represented the first female busts displayed there and it is an appropriate recognition of the contribution of female scholars and Linda’s own creed of inclusion and diversity.

This creed of inclusion has sparked an uptick in access programs and a deliberate and intentional focus on community building and support with the college.  Interdisciplinary cooperation and creativity is an important part of this, and it was exciting to discuss the new Trinity East campus and the vision for that, as well as the emerging field of Micro-credentials designed to cater for life long learning for mature students and beyond.

Our conversation inevitably turns to AI, and given Linda’s engineering background this is an area to which she has given a lot of thought.  Her vision is for an AI empowered university that will spark critical thinkers, deeper research and more advanced learning.  While it won’t come without adjustments and changes to exam and learnings styles, she is convinced that it will transform education.

With thanks to DLA Piper Ireland for sponsoring this podcast. This is an exciting check in with a bold thought leader in the filed of third level education.  Please watch the Youtube video here as a summary.