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

Serge Haroche

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1In June the Faculty put their trust in me to administer the Collège de France. They have done me a great honour, which comes with immense responsibility. The Collège 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”.

2The mandate which I have been entrusted with begins at an important moment. Having just acquired management auto­nomy, the Collège 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 Collège 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 Collège 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.

3While retaining its own identity, its management autonomy and its freedom to define its Chairs and research paths, the Collège 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.

4Within 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 Collège 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 Comité d’Orientation Scientifique et Stratégique (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 Collège de France will have to complement its grant from the state with substantial contributions from private patronage.

5I 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 Collège de France and on initiatives facilitating the flow of information between all staff.

6Despite the economic difficulties facing the country, Europe and the entire world, I am confident about the future of the Collège 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 post-docs, administrative agents, engineers and technicians alike.

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Serge Haroche, « Serge Haroche, Administrateur of the Collège de France since 1 September 2012 », La lettre du Collège de France [En ligne], 7 | 2015, mis en ligne le 29 octobre 2015, consulté le 22 janvier 2019. URL :

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