Controversial comments about Wye College by Imperial College?s Rector, Sir Richard Sykes, in a lecture to second year Civil Engineering students have stirred up a storm at the outlying campus. Apparently under siege from Wye students and staff over the comments, senior College figures have been quick to leap to the campus?s defence, seeking to clarify the Rector?s meaning.
Dr Chris Towler, College?s Director of Strategy Development and Communications said that the Rector was ?alarmed by?erroneous interpretation? drawn from his comments while Professor Mike Hassell, Principal of the Faculty of Life Sciences described Wye as ?an important piece in the Life Sciences jigsaw.? Professor Jeff Waage, Head of Wye?s Department of Agricultural Sciences said he wanted to give students a ?very clear message? that Wye would ?continue to have a role as a centre of teaching and research?.
Wye College has had a turbulent time since the merger with Imperial. After a bureaucratic error in the admissions system led to massively reduced student numbers and the departure of some senior staff many Union figures were suggesting several years ago that the campus would probably eventually be closed down completely. In the intervening time, the situation has improved significantly, with this year?s student intake of nearly 110 students double that of last year and ?well ahead of our target,? according to Professor Waage.
?There is a challenge to overcome geographical distance and create the sense of an Imperial community,? admitted Professor Waage, adding that he was ?committed to addressing this?. Imperial College Union appears to be planning to do its part this year with two meetings of the Union?s governing Council scheduled to take place at the Wye campus.