On Thursday night Sir Richard Sykes departed the College for the final time as Rector, to applause from assembled colleagues. Upper Dalby Court was closed during the afternoon as a small party took place with a band on the outdoor stage in front of Bessemer, concluding a series of dinners and other events to mark his departure. Following the band's final song, he was escorted to the front of Tanaka where he was taken away by Jezebel, the Royal College of Science Mascot, for a short sightseeing tour.
Sir Richard has had a controversial career with Imperial, making many changes immediately after his arrival, including abolishing the former constituent colleges to form faculties, proposing a merger with UCL, commissioning the new Faculty Building and rebranding. Such an aggressive start provoked uproar amongst students and academics, with many of those around at the time still not forgiving him for the manner in which changes were conducted, or the apparent lack of concern for the College's history.
Following the fast start the range of changes slowed, with a focus on longer-term improvements such as the campus renewal and building an investment portfolio to generate external income. Changes in those areas came thick and fast however, with the Blue Cube being joined by the new Tanaka building and a raft of refurbishments. Imperial climbed league tables around the world, but still never matched its second place in the UK tables which it achieved under Lord Oxburgh.
If you missed it last year, Sir Richard gave an interview to stoic tv, which covered a number of his controversies and lessons learned.
Sir Roy Anderson will now take up his place as the 14th Rector of Imperial College. Like former Rector Lord Oxburgh, Anderson is a former chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence.