Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: May 2017

Excuse the mess, we’re remodelling: the Conferment Ceremony back in the Main Building

(Original Swedish post.)

Uppsala is delightful at this time of year and today at last it was time for the Spring Conferment Ceremony.

The conferment ceremony does not go unnoticed in this city. The celebrations began as early as 07:00, with a cannon salute from Uppsala Castle carried out by Jämtlands fältartilleri, as tradition dictates. At 08:00, the great cathedral bell rang out in honour of the University and all the new doctors.

After the temporary move to the cathedral, we were at last back in the University Main Building for the grand ceremony. Even though the renovation is not quite finished, the scaffolding is still there and it smells a little newly painted, it felt wonderful to be ‘home’ for the conferment ceremony. The floor was polished, the pots full of flowers, everything was nearly back to normal. Many people had lent a hand with cleaning and fixing things up so that we could hold the ceremony in the Main Building. It’s almost exactly 130 years since the building was inaugurated. The official reopening is not until the autumn, when the University reaches the age of 540, on 6–7 October.

The ceremony in the Grand Auditorium began with a procession led proudly by the massed flags of all the Uppsala nations and students’ unions, accompanied by the Royal Academic Orchestra. Today we were able to confer doctor’s degrees on 130 new doctors from eight of the University’s nine faculties. Impressive!

The Vice-Chancellor’s welcome speech pays tribute to our doctors and jubilee doctors and describes current developments at the University. You can read the speech here. The Faculty of Medicine’s degree conferrer, Professor Ulf Landegren, then gave a lecture on the topic of molecular tools for health assessments.

Those who received their doctorate fifty years ago are known as jubilee doctors. This year 39 of them chose to take part in the conferment ceremony. The President of the Uppsala Student Union, Daniel Simmons, gave a speech paying tribute to them. The jubilee doctors’ speech was delivered by Leif Lewin, Professor Emeritus of Government. As usual, the music during the ceremony was brilliantly performed by our own Royal Academic Orchestra conducted by Director Musices, Professor Stefan Karpe.

Our ceremonies are an image of our University, bringing together education and research, young and old, our future and our history. You can read more about the ceremony, our new doctors and jubilee doctors in the conferment ceremony book (in Swedish). There you will also find an essay by Professor Tore Frängsmyr on Uppsala University’s first professor of the history of science and ideas, the humanist Johan Nordström.

After a few hours in the Grand Auditorium, it was pleasant to mingle in more relaxed style at the receptions at the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Theology. Now it will soon be time for the banquet at the Castle, with more than 700 guests dressed to the nines. There’ll be more speeches, good food, more music and dancing, far into the bright spring night.

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A day’s work

(Original Swedish post published 16 May.)

A day’s work as Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University can contain a lot of variation and today was a case in point. In a moment I’m off to V-dala for dinner with this week’s Q&R17 panelists. The second week is in full progress, with 9 more panels and 66 experts from 13 countries.

This morning, at the usual weekly Vice-Chancellor’s decision-making session, I decided on this year’s winners of the Distinguished Teaching Award. Patience – the press release will go out tomorrow and their identity will be officially announced then. I also approved support from the Vice-Chancellor’s strategic funds for Uppsala Antibiotic Center, which added extra interest to the article in today’s edition of the local newspaper UNT about school pupils who have produced a magazine, Resistens (article in Swedish), about the very topic of antibiotic resistance. The plan for gender mainstreaming was also adopted. It contains the following areas for action:

  1. Skills development at managerial level
  2. Content and design of educational programmes
  3. University-wide governance documents
  4. Recruitment and skills supply
  5. Internal distribution of resources

After that, it was off to Ångström and the inauguration of SwedNess, a graduate school in neutron scattering supported by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research. Uppsala University is coordinator but it is a cooperative undertaking also involving the Royal Institute of Technology, Chalmers, Linköping University, Lund University and Stockholm University. Twenty doctoral students will be recruited to build up expertise in Sweden for the European Spallation Source (ESS). It’s positive and important that we can cooperate on this graduate school. Thank you, Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research!

The next stop was Gustavianum, where the National Centre for Knowledge on Men’s Violence Against Women launched the report on the Uppsala model, in which research, education and clinical work combine to provide vulnerable women with the support and help they need.

At short notice, we learned that the former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, was visiting Uppsala today, we managed to squeeze in a half-hour talk this afternoon before I went on to the annual meeting of Drivhuset. There’s no chance of boredom in this job, on the countrary, every day is full of interesting meetings and discussions and I’m constantly full of admiration and respect for the work being done and commitment displayed at our University. It’s easy to feel proud as Vice-Chancellor.

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Management meeting in Lund

(Original Swedish post.)

On Wednesday, the entire University management (apart from Torsten, who had other commitments) visited Skåne for a joint meeting with the management of Lund University. We shared experiences of managing agency capital, compensation for language programmes, storing of research data and financing of facilities. We compared our impressions of the terms of reference for Agneta Bladh’s inquiry on internationalisation and Pam Fredman’s inquiry on governance and resource allocation, and we discussed the funding of national infrastructure resources, in particular Max IV and the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (ANIC).

These regular meetings are valuable. It is important that Sweden’s two largest and broadest research universities maintain a dialogue and develop a common view on fundamental research and education policy issues. Our thanks to Torbjörn von Schantz, Eva Wiberg and others at Lund for their hospitality and for a productive time together!

Before travelling back to Uppsala, we found itme for a short visit to the Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art, very interesting and inspiring.

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Expert panels for Q&R17 visit Uppsala University

(Original Swedish post published 8 May.)

This week and next, 19 panels of external experts will visit our University. Today we were pleased to welcome the first group – 10 panels made up of 68 experts from 17 different countries. The experts’ role is to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of our research environments and to recommend ways to improve our activities. Q&R17 – which stands for Quality and Renewal 2017 – is the third evaluation Uppsala University has carried out, on our own initiative, following rounds in 2007 and 2011. The purpose this time is not to grade and rank but to give good advice as critical friends through constructive collegial dialogue so that we can develop and become even better. Q&R17 also includes reflection on the links between research and education, and between research and external collaboration.

An exercise of this kind requires a lot of work on the part of many people and we in the University management are impressed that everyone involved has devoted so much time and thought to it. Today it was especially pleasing to meet our external panelists, who asked many questions and showed great interest. This bodes well for a rewarding week for everyone involved. We look forward to summing up the first week on Friday and then gathering ourselves to welcome the next group in a week’s time. Read more here.

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Congratulations Göran Gustafsson Prize winners!

(Original Swedish post published 7 March.)

There are many reasons to celebrate and salute success. One such occasion came on Friday when the Göran Gustafsson Prizes were awarded to young researchers – Anna Rostedt Punga and Cecilia Persson of Uppsala University received the Göran Gustafsson Prize of SEK 2.5 million each to be used freely for research purposes. The small prize of SEK 0.5 million went to Olov Norlén and Reza Younesi. The prizes were presented at a grand ceremony in Stensalen at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. A total of SEK 12 million was shared out to promising young researchers at Uppsala University and the Royal Institute of Technology.

Anna Rostedt Punga gives a speech of thanks on behalf of the prizewinners

Another occasion came on Thursday at the Department of Business Studies, which celebrated the successful launch of new international Master’s programmes that have attracted many applicants. At the same time, the newly recognised Excellent Teachers, newly promoted professors and new docents were honoured. There were celebratory cakes and book prizes. It’s important to take time to celebrate, to take pleasure in one another’s successes. It makes a difference to say a few words of appreciation to each other – we ought to do it much more often.

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Heads of department conference

(Original Swedish post published 3 May.)

I haven’t had time to read the evaluations, but many participants expressed their appreciation of the overnight conference of heads of department that we have just had. The positive comments were not solely attributable to the perfect early summer weather we enjoyed at the venue, Fagerudd.

On the first day, the department heads dived into the rules of procedure, in a session led by Lena Marcusson. Although the main focus was on the departments and the role of a head of department, many other questions also came up and I feel that the working group received a lot of sensible and intelligent input for their ongoing work. At the end of the day, Staffan Svärd looked back on his six years as a head of department in a rich and interesting presentation. We learned about ‘gegenpressing’ and embraced the advice: “Be calm and be yourself.”

The second day was about staff recruitment and development. Daniel Gillberg and Eliane Forsse started out by setting out the framework for staff recruitment and development plans and describing the recruitment, development and termination support available at Uppsala University. Åsa Kettis then talked about career support for young researchers. Magnus Öberg, Karin Forsberg Nilsson and Olof Karis gave us three examples of practice at department level. It’s striking how different – yet also how similar – things can be. I heard many positive comments over the two days on how important and rewarding it is to meet one another and exchange experiences, some heads of department are new and need to get to know their colleagues.

Back in Uppsala, I (Eva) and Vice-Rector Torsten Svensson met a group representing 12 Canadian universities on a study trip to Sweden and Finland. Anders Malmberg took care of a meeting with NCC, who are one of our strategic partners. The day’s work ended with this semester’s update meeting with the management of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). We discussed our cooperation – and noted that SLU will be 40 and UU 540 this year!

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