» Issue 30: Autumn 2001

Letter from the Editor

Dear Members of the City & Guilds College Association

The theme of this letter is TRADITION. How valuable is it to our society in general nowadays, and to our engineering students of the City & Guilds College, both past and present, in particular? Also to Imperial College itself? Does IC need to drum up some traditions to coalesce its alumni?

Tradition is a means by which groups celebrate their uniqueness and maintain links across generations. But despite the desirability of continuity implicit in a mature culture, where education is concerned, there is the need for constant change to keep people up to date with rapid technological progress. This can create a major source of tension in the curriculum and in techniques of teaching. Here, the new Rector displays his far-sightedness in reorganising Imperial College this year: The Constituent Colleges and Medical Schools are becoming less prominent and the Faculties are at the forefront of the new structure. They will deal with the co-operation between the various disciplines more quickly and with greater efficiency.

But Imperial College was struggling to have its own identity even in the forties. I have a booklet entitled Imperial College Union, published in October 1942. It states that the Union is the body which controls the finance and operation of a wide range of clubs and societies. In sixty years it does not appear to have developed much beyond that.

When the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education was established in 1878, the Royal College of Science and the Royal School of Mines were already thinking of settling in South Kensington. Thus when the Central Institution decided to join them, the ingredients of Imperial College could be assembled.

The Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone for the Alfred Waterhouse Building in 1881. I think we all take pride in knowing details of our history, while watching the College grow and change in step with the development of the world around us. Imperial College can learn from its Constituent Colleges and develop its own unique traditions by adapting theirs. This will provide the continuity which is at the heart of all our college experience.

Yours sincerely

The Editor

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