Newsletter 7


Serge Haroche, Administrateur of the College de France since 1 September 2012

In June the Faculty put their trust in me to administer the College de France. They have done me a great honour, which comes with immense responsibility. The College de France is the only one of its kind in the world, with the crucial mission of teaching knowledge in the making, in all the domains of the natural sciences and the humanities. The list of professors who have held its Chairs since the sixteenth century across all disciplines attests to its standing and profound and ongoing influence on intellectual life. Our institution operates according to rules of independence and freedom rooted in a secular academic tradition. This precious legacy needs to be preserved, placing particular importance on the quality of the choices that the Faculty must make when renewing Chairs. I have been thinking about all this in these weeks of intense work as I get to know our institution "from the inside".

The mandate which I have been entrusted with begins at an important moment. Having just acquired management autonomy, the College de France must negotiate a new five-year plan with the State for the 2014-2018 period. The main lines of the contract currently being drafted are clear. The College de France will continue and intensify its actions in research, teaching and knowledge dissemination. It will base itself on a dynamic strategy of renewal of its Chairs and the creation of resident research laboratories, on the continuation of the renovation of its buildings, and on growing openness to the outside world, making use of the most modern information technology. This policy, which is a continuation of the one implemented by Administrateur Pierre Corvol during the previous four-year term, should allow the College de France to extend its reach in France and throughout the world. It must maintain a subtle balance between respect for traditions that have earned our institution its greatness, and its necessary adaptation to an academic and university environment undergoing rapid and profound transformation.

While retaining its own identity, its management autonomy and its freedom to define its Chairs and research paths, the College de France will seek to strengthen its ties with the institutions that make up the Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) federation, of which it is a founding member.

Within PSL, it will take part in joint cross-cutting research, training or resource management operations, wherever its effectiveness can be enhanced by the pooling of material and human resources rather than by acting alone. That is not to say that the College de France will loosen its ties with other institutions which are not part of PSL. It will also continue to deepen its international relationships, with the support of its Comite d'Orientation Scientifique et Strategique (Committee of Scientific and Strategic Orientation) consisting of foreign personalities - a committee which has now become one of the institution's statutory advisory bodies. To pursue these actions, the College de France will have to complement its grant from the state with substantial contributions from private patronage.

I am assisted in my functions by the committee comprised of Professors John Scheid and Marc Fontecave (vice-president and secretary of the Faculty, respectively), and by a group of professors who form a broader managerial team and function collegially, as encouraged by the name of our institution. This team will place great importance on animating the cultural and social life of the College de France and on initiatives facilitating the flow of information between all staff.

Despite the economic difficulties facing the country, Europe and the entire world, I am confident about the future of the College de France. I know it can count on the dynamism, the enthusiasm and the devotion to the institution's missions motivating all of its staff: professors, visiting professors, students and postdocs, administrative agents, engineers and technicians alike.

Prof. Serge Haroche
Quantum Physics