In October 2016, Girton was granted outline planning permission to realise an ambitious masterplan for its historic main site. After three years working closely with planning officers in South Cambridgeshire District Council, Historic England, every College constituency and representatives of the local community, Girton’s multi-disciplinary team of consultants devised a visionary proposal which all parties could endorse. Appropriately for our location in the Green Belt, the plan preserves the heritage and amenity value of the site, while opening up a host of new possibilities for the future of the estate. The outline plan could, for example, accommodate a substantial expansion of student numbers, particularly postgraduates; it would support the consolidation of the College onto a single integrated site; it contains an option for enhanced conference facilities and it offer innovations in layout and circulation. Most importantly, there is now a firm foundation from which to plan for the long run, with enough flexibility to meet the evolving needs of students and staff in a competitive and uncertain world.
‘Promoting excellence in diversity is at the heart of Girton’s strategic plan. The principle of inclusion is a foundational aim; our reputation for excellence is integral to the international standing of Cambridge University. As a residential educational venture Girton prizes environmental sustainability in life as well as at work; as a permanent institution, we have taken bold steps to underpin the endowment. As our ambitious seven-year plan draws to a close, Girton is ready to embrace and shape the future. We shall, in the coming years, continue to offer a leading edge learning experience spanning almost every university subject, enriched by success in widening participation and underpinned by an ethic of care.’ Professor Susan J. Smith, Mistress (2009 – )
Girton recognises that music and the arts, like sports and civic engagement, are not only integral to personal development, but a spur to academic attainment. The visual and performing arts nurture breadth as well as depth; they are part and parcel of a well-rounded education. Music is a thriving degree subject at Girton (producing some of our best results overall) and a way of life in College. Music of all kinds and at every level is encouraged by a professional team of in-house musicians who support early music, vocal music, strings, jazz and brass. In parallel there is a thriving visual arts scene, built in partnership with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and advanced through an alumni-funded artist in residence scheme. Creativity is a life-enhancing transferable skill which Girton is keen to nurture and geared to deliver.
Girton alumni make a lasting difference to society through their leadership and innovation skills. Many are pioneers, breaking new ground in their fields of expertise. Notable global firsts include:
Karen Pierce (1978, English) became the United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York in March 2018, the first woman to be given this most prestigious post in the British diplomatic service since the UN’s formation in 1945.
Jane Fraser (1985, Economics) was the first woman Chief Executive of Citicorp Latin America, and is regularly cited on the list of the Most Powerful Women in Banking.
Dawn Airey (1981, Geography), has been Chief Executive Officer of Getty Images since 2015, the world’s leading visual communications company. Previously a Senior Vice President at Yahoo, Dawn Airey has over 30 years of experience in the media industry.
Lim Hwee Hua (1978, Engineering) was the first woman to serve in Singapore’s cabinet when she was made a Minister in the Prime Minister’s office in 2009. She is now an Executive Director of the private equity firm Tembusa Partners.
Dame Zarine Kharas DBE (1970, Law) is the co-founder of the innovative Just Giving, now the world’s leading global online social platform for tax-effective charitable giving.
Girton has extended its operation to embrace Swirles Court, a purpose-built, 325 room graduate complex in Eddington, the University’s visionary £350 million urban-academic community which is a short walk from College. Swirles Court, named after the Girton mathematician Bertha Jeffreys (née Swirles), was officially opened in October 2017 by the new Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Stephen J. Toope. Bertha Jeffrey’s (1921 Mathematics) research focus was on quantum theory in Physics, and she was actively involved with Girton, as student and Fellow, for over 70 years.
However, Girton’s impact on Eddington is even wider. A further eight Girtonians have been selected by the local community to be inscribed in the landscape, giving their names to streets, neighbourhoods, and buildings on the Eddington site: Hertha Ayrton, Muriel Bradbrook, Mary Cartwright, Emily Davies, Dorothy Hodgkin, Joan Robinson, Charlotte Angas Scott and Lucy Slater.
Acquiring Swirles Court and our impact on the landscape is raising our profile and helping to establish Girton as the College of North West Cambridge.
Collegiate Cambridge is rated as one of the top five universities in the world by most higher education league tables. This international recognition has resulted in a graduate community in Girton where more than 40% of those students are from over 40 countries world-wide. Eighteen percent of undergraduates are non-UK, non-EU students. Girton is looking to expand its graduate community as well as the number of its international undergraduates.
Today, Girton has 250 graduates at any one time, and expects to see this community grow by up to 13% over the next five years, in line with the decision of Cambridge University to increase graduate numbers by that amount. By producing more qualified and highly skilled graduates, Girton can play a crucial part in boosting a global economy in urgent need of diverse high-level skills and analytical abilities.
Girton is also aiming to increase numbers of international undergraduates, although the overall undergraduate population is not planned to grow. Girton can only benefit from increased diversity across cultures, language, religion, all of which will help enrich our students’ experience, understanding and academic excellence.
Girton recruits globally and educates for an international job market. Worldwide, therefore, we are in touch with nearly 10,000 alumni. Most are based in the UK, but internationally the network is expanding into South and East Asia, mainland Europe and the west and eastern seaboards of North America. As Cambridge cements its position at the centre of the world’s educational stage, and as Girton’s graduate school grows, our alumni networks will further extend into Africa, South America and Australasia. Girtonians achieve extraordinary things; as role models, mentors, colleagues, friends and supporters ‑ in every possible way ‑ our alumni represent one of our most valued and valuable resources.
One of the perennial riches of any college is their ability to bestow Fellowships on individuals who have achieved distinction in their chosen careers and lives outside College. In this way the vibrancy and intellectual diversity of the community is strengthened. Accordingly, and on the nomination of the Council, the Governing Body may at any College meeting confer the title of Honorary Fellow upon a person of distinction, whether a past student of the College or not, for the duration of her life. The oldest of our living Honorary Fellows is Professor M Burbidget, BSc PhD (London) FRS., who was elected in 1970. Since then a further 26 Honorary Fellows have been admitted, the most recent in 2017. A further five are being nominated for our 150 Anniversary in 2019 in memory of our first five pioneering students in 1869. This will take Girton up to its full complement of 30 Honorary Fellows.
In 2019 we are celebrating 150 years of Girton’s pioneering spirit and its ambitious plans for the future. As well as hearing from Girtonians about their experiences whilst here, and the impact Girton had on their lives after leaving, we are also keen to hear about your vision for the College’s future. What quality or characteristic of Girton would you always keep? What innovation would you make? Your thoughts on what direction Girton might take over the coming years will add a new voice to the strategic plans as they are developed for the next phase of this unique institution. Please scroll or click on the next vision below.
Add your voice here!Girtonian
Add your voice here!Girtonian
Material submitted for this project may be held permanently in the College’s Archive and may be published on this page, on the College website or in other electronic of print formats, now or at a later date.