Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: December 2013

The year that was – some thoughts in late December

As 2013 winds down, we summarise the year that was and look ahead to 2014.

When we look back, certain events stand out, such as the inauguration of Campus Gotland during Almedal Week. The autonomy discussion prompted by the government’s proposal regarding higher-education foundations being circulated for comment is also one of the year’s key events. We have had many interesting debates; one might say that we freely discussed what is right.

Foto. Mikael Wallerstedt

Foto. Mikael Wallerstedt








Rewarding recurrent events include the welcoming of new students at the start of each semester and our issuing of mild warnings ahead of the Frosh Banquet, as well as congratulating those being awarded their doctorates, new professors, and prize-winners at conferment ceremonies and installation festivities. Nor will Walpurgis Eve, with the Running of the Rapids, soon be forgotten!

Foto: Mikael Wallerstedt.

Foto: Mikael Wallerstedt.








We can also observe that there is always something to celebrate at our University. The choir Allmänna sången is marking a jubilee, the inspectorate and the Department of Riding are commemorating 350 years, and medical training 400 years. During the year we have also thanked the retiring chair of the University Board, Hans Dalborg, and welcomed Carola Lemne as his successor.

Many prominent guests have visited Uppsala University, which is always stimulating and rewarding. We especially recall the start of the autumn semester with Kofi Annan and Jan Eliasson. The following week our students had the opportunity to hear Margot Wallström deliver the Dag Hammarsköld Lecture. And the visit from the Nobel laureates always brightens up December. It is gratifying to be able to offer activities like these, both to our students and to the general public.

Foto: Jim Elfström.

Foto: Jim Elfström.









Our daily work here at home often consists of meetings, seminars, and conferences with participants from all over the world, but we have also been abroad and gleaned impressions from other seats of learning and corners of the world. During the year the Vice-Chancellor’s Management Council has visited universities in the UK (Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge) and Finland (University of Helsinki and Aalto University) – trips that were both educational and inspiring.

Rektors ledningsråd i Helsinki.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Managemen Council in Helsinki.







In Brezil.

In Brazil.










An important portion of the University’s activities are carried out at our museums and in the Botanical Garden, which are often venues for meetings and seminars, but also for concerts and spectacular sports events. Uppsala University is an open institution that is pleased to share its operations and its cultural milieus with others. Much of this is made possible by donations that are managed by Uppsala Akademiförvaltning (Academy Management) for the benefit of future generations. In this context the foundation Friends of Uppsala University also plays a key role. The purpose of the foundation is to actively work to ensure that urgent University projects can be realized.

Other forms of donations that make a difference are for instance the Oncolytic Virus Fund. During the year small donations from thousands of individuals, albeit in combination with one major donation, have enabled Professor Magnus Essand and his research team to begin work with the world’s first clinical studies of a virus treatment that specifically targets neuroendocrine tumours.

We have also continued our work with the four strategic focus areas for excellence in teaching and research: quality, infrastructure, internationalisation, and competence and career.

Installation of professors and conferment of prizes.

Installation of professors and conferment of prizes.








Our quality work is constantly moving forward. This autumn’s retreat with the deans took up quality control and quality development. SUHF (the Association of Swedish Higher Education) has proposed a future model in which higher-education institutions themselves could take the responsibility for creating their own quality systems for external assessment, which, following approval by the Swedish Higher Education Authority, could replace the current national system. On the research side we have thus far arranged our own major evaluation projects (Q&R07 and Q&R11). Now the Swedish Research Council is investigating the establishment of a national peer-review-based system. The Meeting of the Deans in November, just like the University Board when the issue was discussed there in December, asserted that Uppsala University must take a major responsibility for our own quality matters.

Concerning infrastructure, during the year Joseph Nordgren has been tasked with taking inventory of our needs, an assignment that is expected to be completed in February.

In the focus area of internationalisation, Leif Kirsebom began work as adviser to the Vice-Chancellor for internationalisation last spring. A pan-University group has also been created to address these issues. Internationalisation is an area where we can make further improvements.

Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.









Being an attractive employer is critical to our success, and our work in the area of competence and career continues unabated. For example, we have initiated work to map our limited-term appointments, and we have welcomed hundreds of new co-workers during the year.

To back up strategic work and to provide efficient operational support, University Director Ann Fust initiated quality work within the administration during the autumn. The project aims to facilitate research, education, and collaboration, enhancing quality, reducing costs, and freeing up researches to increase our freedom to act.  The work is being pursued in project form and is starting with human resources, finance, and administration of studies. The first focus is on salary administration, where a decision will soon be made to move in the direction of central salary administration. The work mode is to be characterised by broad participation in the organisation. The main reason for working with workflows is the University’s own driving force to work efficiently and with quality in mind. There is also external pressure following the creation of the State Service Centre, as ratios are now available for comparison regarding certain services in the areas of finance and human resources.

Vårpromotionen. Foto: Mikael Wallerstedt.

Foto: Mikael Wallerstedt.








With the end of the year approaching, it is time to look forward. We will continue to grow in research – but the way today’s policy looks we will probably be shrinking when it comes to education. Though this will be a challenge for us, it is above all a problem for the young and highly motivated students who will not have the opportunity to create their own future by getting a university education.

One way of looking ahead is to review our Goals and Strategies, a task being led by Göran Magnusson and Coco Norén. Following a period of broad consultations, this work is now entering the drafting phase. The proposal will be circulated for comment in the spring.

The autonomy process is thought to be continuing into 2014. It is important for us to continue the discussion and achieve a broad consensus on what we want our future to look like, in terms of both the University’s relation to the state and our internal modes of operation and governance.

The development of Uppsala University is driven by committed and dedicated associates and students. We want to thank you all for the year gone by and for your fine contributions.

We wish you a truly enjoyable Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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Nobel visits

Today, the Nobel laureates in medicine and chemistry visited Uppsala University. The medicine laureates, Thomas Sudhof, Randy Schekman and James Rothman, held well-attended lectures at the Biomedical Centre (BMC), while two of the chemistry laureates, Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt, lectured in the university auditorium, dressed in red university ties which they received during their previous visit (see picture below). Lars Peter Hansen, one of the receivers of the prize in economic science, was sadly forced to cancel due to illness.

The laureates met Eva before the lectures, and they also had time for a lunch at Uppsala Castle before it was time to go back to Stockholm for the rest of the Nobel programme.

This year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the organization OPCW, was represented by Attila Zimonyi, head of strategy at the OPCW. He is on a visit to Uppsala due to the Conference Henri Lafontaine, a conference which is organized by Uppsala University and Wallonia Brussels International.
There is a long-standing tradition of inviting Nobel laureates to Uppsala in connection with the Nobel festivities in Stockholm, and it is gratifying that they are able to come here and both meet and inspire our students and researchers.

Above from left: Randy Schekman, James Rothman, Thomas Südhof, Attila Zimonyi. Below from left: Michael Levitt, Eva Åkesson, Arieh Warshel. Foto: Mikael Wallerstedt.

Above from left: Randy Schekman, James Rothman, Thomas Südhof, Attila Zimonyi.
Below from left: Michael Levitt, Eva Åkesson, Arieh Warshel.
Foto: Mikael Wallerstedt.











Watch the Nobel Lectures on UU Play.



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Meeting with the University Board: student unions and quality

Today we had the last meeting with the university board. This time the agenda was not full of decisions to make, but we were able to discuss in depth both the work on the revision of goals and strategies and the university’s quality management. We had good discussions on the topics that we previously have discussed internally in the management council, the senate and the dean meeting – quality, autonomy and responsibility. The board underlined the importance for us as a university to take our quality management for the development of world-leading research and first-class education seriously.

An important decision was taken, however, and it was about giving the student union of engineering and science a position as a student union from the 1st of January. We would like to give credit to the students who through a mutual agreement have solved this issue. It gives us a good climate of cooperation between the various unions and thus a strong student influence, which is so important at our university.

After the meeting the board took a guided tour of the Ångstrom laboratory. It is important that they meet students and researchers in the living environment on campus and get to know the operations that are affected by the decisions. They were impressed by the research and the facilities at Ångstrom and those of us in the management group were obviously proud. The theme this week is excellent research with Science and SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists on Monday, the Nobel festivities in Stockholm yesterday and Nobel lectures here in Uppsala on Friday.


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Science and SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists

Yesterday I (Eva) met the winner and finalists of the international competition Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists. They visited Uppsala and the Rudbeck Laboratory during the day and took part in a scientific programme of lectures before they went on to the awards ceremony at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm.

Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt








It is SciLifeLab which together with the scientific journal Science for the first time is organizing the competition, which aims to reach young researchers worldwide who are at the beginning of their career. The winner receives 25,000 USD and a publication in Science.

This year’s winner, Daniel G. Streicker from the U.S., receives the award for his research on viral infections in bats that show how infectious diseases can jump between different species.

Runners up in 2013 is Gabriel Victora, USA, Weizhe Hong, China, and Dominic Schmidt, Germany.

From left: Daniel G. Streicker, Dominic Schmidt, Weizhe Hong och Gabriel Victora. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt.

From left: Daniel G. Streicker, Dominic Schmidt, Weizhe Hong och Gabriel Victora. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt.









It is important that we highlight young successful scientists and their work in order to inspire and encourage researchers worldwide to further results.

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Africa Part 2: SANORD-conference in Malawi

SANORD – Southern African – Nordic Centre, is a university network founded in 2007. The members include universities in Scandinavia and South Africa. Uppsala University was one of the eight universities that formed the network, and now the number of member universities has risen to slightly above 40, indicating the attractiveness and viability of the network. The goal of the network is to promote cooperation between universities in the Nordic region and Southern Africa, and assist member universities to address global and local needs. SANORD has a joint meeting (Council) once a year, which alternates between meeting locations in the north and in the south every other year. During the meeting, a conference or a symposium takes place, and I (Eva) have since last year a place on the board of SANORD. This year the conference was hosted by the University of Malawi, and the theme of the conference was: “Contributions of universities towards attaining the millennium development goals”. I was invited to give a keynote during the first day titled: “Strategic Management and Higher Education Financing”.

The second day, Maria Teresa Bejarano , Peter Sundin and Sten Hagberg gave presentations on the topic “Does Uppsala University make the world a better place?”. After their brilliant presentations – “Antibiotic Resistance – React”, “International science program” and “Forum for Africa studies” the unanimous answer was: Yes!

When we are travelling, we try to use the time as well as possible by discussing agreements, cooperation and other issues. We often arrange some type of alumni event. Here in Malawi we organized a popular reception for our African partners on Monday evening together with Lund University. Thanks to Ulrica Ouline and Erika Dabhilkar from our International Office who arranged and coordinated the event for Uppsala University.

SANORD gives us opportunities for new partnerships and strengthens existing ones with universities in Southern Africa. The next SANORD meeting will be in June next year, and the place is a little closer to home – in Karlstad. The theme of the symposium will be “The impact of globalization on the Southern Africa region and the Nordic region in a period of 10 years from now”.

In 2015 the meeting will be held in Namibia, and in 2016 we have the pleasure of welcoming our SANORD friends to Uppsala University.

I’m now on my way home from Malawi, full of impressions and strengthened in my conviction that our international cooperation helps us contribute to a better world.

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