A message from the Principal about the coronavirus pandemic

Professor Richard A. Williams
Below is the full text of a letter emailed to alumni and donors by Professor Richard Williams on 21 March 2020:

Dear Alumni and Supporters

I am writing to you today not just as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University but as a fellow member of our global Heriot-Watt community, and shared world.  

I understand that this is an exceptionally anxious and uncertain time for us all and so I wanted to share a message of solidarity with our many alumni and friends. We stand committed in our determination to work together to support all of our communities facing this global emergency.

We all have a relative or friend whose health, safety and well-being is in our thoughts more than usual at this time. Please know we are thinking of you and your loved ones.

Across our five campuses worldwide the people of Heriot-Watt are working together to minimise the spread of the virus and to support each other, especially our most vulnerable friends and colleagues.  We have moved activities online enabling students and staff to stay home where possible, we are supporting students on exchange programmes, reassuring  families in any way we can, and considering how we can support the mental health of our communities, especially those particularly isolated.  

Heriot-Watt is coming together to change our ways of working and to support our students, alumni, and staff. We will continue to work to minimise the impact that these times will have on our student experience and global research by:

  • Moving face to face teaching to online remote learning across our campuses
  • Keeping our campuses open for essential student services – remotely and virtually where not physically possible
  • Maintaining essential research and building new research environments
  • Arranging funding continuity and grant extensions for research projects
  • Pulling resources together to support students during these challenging times including allowing students to terminate the lease on their on-campus accommodation

On a personal note, I am truly heartened by the offers of support we have already received from across Scotland, the UK, Dubai, Malaysia and the world.  

We are still in the early stages of this crisis and these measures will only get us so far as we face an uncertain period ahead. We need to remain agile and continue to work quickly together in order to plan how we will maintain support for the most at-risk members of our community throughout the weeks and months ahead.   

Over the coming days, we want to share with you how you may wish to show your support during this difficult time. We’ll be in touch directly and via our social media channels. We also have our alumni community platform Watt Club Connect [superseded March 2021]. If we can be of any help to you during this difficult time, we urge you to get in touch with us at watt.club@hw.ac​​.uk. 

Be safe and please keep talking to us.  

Yours sincerely,

Professor Richard A. Williams, OBE FREng FTSE FRSE
Principal and Vice-Chancellor