Comment & Analysis
Dec 19, 2021

As Her First Semester as Provost Concludes, Linda Doyle Should Take Stock

Doyle's manifesto was rooted in a commitment to make Trinity more transparent and collaborative.

By The Editorial Board

However Provost Linda Doyle expected her first semester in office to go, what ultimately ensued was probably not what she envisioned. Between August and now, Trinity has experienced the full spectrum of pandemic-related problems – from students balking at College’s sluggish re-opening to tension over safety on campus – as well as several PR minefields which were uncomfortably reminiscent of her predecessor’s modus operandi.

Doyle promised radical change, and certainly, things have changed in some regards: on governance, she has followed through on bringing everyone to the table – something Prendergast was regularly slated for not doing. However, several classic Trinity-style controversies still managed to occur this semester: the atrocious handling of the Science Gallery’s closure, the embarrassing scaling back of Trinity East and, to top it all off, a Book of Kells controversy.

The Science Gallery, in particular, was a comms disaster: Doyle promised transparency, but College was publicly silent following the breaking of the story by the Business Post – a reaction it’s not hard to imagine from Prendergast. Background negotiations with the government are ongoing, so the gallery may survive the fiasco, but such a botched approach to salvaging the gallery’s finances surely could have been avoided.


But interestingly, apart from one notable protest over online lectures, students and staff have not reacted to Doyle’s trip-ups the same way they perhaps would have with Prendergast. Perhaps for those who witnessed a Provost shut away in House One for the better part of a decade, Doyle’s way of doing things is a marked improvement, despite what she got wrong this term. Her vision of Trinity as a place where most campus stakeholders – but not all – have a say in decision making is coming to fruition. But it remains to be seen whether she’ll make good on other aspects of her manifesto – such as making College an exceptional place to learn.

Of course, Doyle is merely months into a decade-long term: most of College is giving her a grace period before any full-throated attacks on her administration.

If Doyle doesn’t deliver what she promised, it won’t be apparent just yet. But even if this entire semester amounted to a honeymoon period, it’s difficult to see a similar level of patience sustained if the next term brings a similar handful of controversies.