New President's message - Royal Society of NSW News & Events - The Royal Society of NSW

New President's message

At the 151st AGM held on 4 April 2018, Emeritus Scientia Professor Ian Sloan AO FRSN was installed as President of the Society.  As Professor Sloan was overseas and unable to attend the meeting, he addressed the audience in a video.  The text of his address is given here.


Ian SloanIf you are seeing this video, then I must have been elected as President of the Royal Society of New South Wales, and I must be in Providence, Rhode Island.  I’m sorry that I can’t be with you.

What an honour it is to be President of our Royal Society!  By my count I am the 119th President, in a line stretching back to 1821.

Let me tell you a little about our first President.  Sir Thomas arrived as Governor of New South Wales in 1821.  He was a soldier (finishing with the rank of Major General).  But he was also a scientist, specifically an astronomer, and a great patron of science.  He built an astronomical observatory at Parramatta, something wonderful to think about with the colony only 35 years old.  After returning to Great Britain he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Our first President was a fine example of all that is best about our Royal Society.  There are many other great names among the presidents that follow, but I want to jump forward around 200 years, because our proud history counts for little unless we are doing something now.  I want to pay particular respect to my recent predecessors as President: to John Hardie and Donald Hector, and especially to immediate-past-President Brynn Hibbert.  These three have presided over major transformation and reform.  Especially important has been the reinvention of the Fellows program, and a renewed emphasis on expanded membership.  By now the Fellows and Members together number around 400, giving us increased strength as a society.  Recent presidents have also been taking seriously the commitment not just to science (though science remains deep in our DNA) but also to “Art, Literature and Philosophy”, which we nowadays interpret rather broadly, to include all of the key intellectual and creative endeavours of our time.  My commitment as President will be to continue to develop in these directions, and to make sure that the Society is important to its Members and Fellows.

Thank you.

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