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News from the university management 17 March

On the management’s agenda

There must be room for different opinions at LU 

After a member of staff wrote a disparaging tweet about a woman whose opinions he didn’t like, he was called to a meeting with the dean of the faculty. Before that meeting, the dean commented on the case in a newspaper. This was reported to the Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO), which has criticised his comments. JO considers that they could be perceived as implying that the dean felt he had the power to limit the professor’s rights, and that there is a risk that employees at Lund University may be afraid to express their opinions. “I take all criticism from JO seriously in such situations. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right and there must be no doubt that LU employees have freedom of speech. This decision can serve as a good reminder to all of us in managerial positions of how easily our position of power can be perceived as threatening, and that comments we make can be devastating for an individual employee. It can easily seem as though we want to stifle the particular opinion rather than trying to encourage a respectful tone of discussion”, writes the vice-chancellor on his blog. He goes on to say: “There must be ample room for different opinions at the University and respect and tolerance for other people and divergent views”. 

Important work for threatened students and researchers in Washington

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg has visited Washington DC and the University of Maryland, which is one of LU’s partner universities and a member of the U21 university network. She met, among others, Professor Allan Goodman, head of the Institute of International Education (IIE). He talked about the institute’s work to help researchers and students in endangered positions to continue to pursue their research or studies outside their home countries. The IIE also has a whole programme for internationalisation of higher education, including an initiative to double the number of US university students studying abroad by the end of 2020, writes Eva Wiberg on her blog. 
More information on the deputy vice-chancellor’s blog

Gender equality at Lund University should not be a utopia

Women make up only 23 per cent of professors at Lund University, writes Torbjörn von Schantz on his vice-chancellor’s blog. He observes that the proportion of women actually decreased between 2013 and 2014 and he is now determined to continue the work started by the previous management, on the instructions of the University Board, to speed up the work to create a better gender balance at the University. “Personally, I believe gender equality is important because it concerns opportunities to shape our lives, regardless of whether we are men or women. The challenge is that, despite this natural expectation, women do not have the same opportunities as men, for structural reasons” and says that we must “work locally – and not just in the run-up to International Women’s Day – to ensure that gender equality at Lund University does not have to be a utopia”.

Investments must be made wisely

As a public authority, it is important for the University to be economical with its resources. There must be a well thought-out strategy for every investment, writes the vice-chancellor on his blog. At the same time, he emphasises the importance of developing research, external engagement and education, and of celebrating. This is particularly true for the upcoming 350th anniversary. “A success factor for really good anniversary celebrations is that they originate from and take place in the midst of the organisation – this is the only way to create a sense of involvement among staff and students”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz. 

Purchase of MAX IV premises refused 

The Government has turned down Lund University’s application to purchase the MAX IV buildings. This means that the University will continue to rent the premises in accordance with the 25-year lease signed in 2012. ”The ambition to buy the MAX IV premises was very praiseworthy, and if the Government had approved our request the University could have saved around SEK 30 million in rental costs”, said Torbjörn von Schantz.

LU news

New Swedish staff web pages launched

Yesterday was the launch of the new staff web pages, Medarbetarwebben, which will replace Anställd as the University’s central internal website. The aim of the site is to provide support to staff in their work at Lund University. Work on the website has been ongoing for a year and all divisions in the central administration have been involved in writing or revising material. Medarbetarwebben will be translated into English, with the English version being launched gradually, starting in May. More information: 

Sony redundancies highest priority for FIRS

The Skåne Research and Innovation Council (FIRS) – on which Lund University is represented – has been preparing for some time for the redundancies announced by Sony Mobile last week. A working group has been appointed. One proposal is to create a new mobile communications institute.

Håkan Pihl new vice-chancellor of Kristianstad University

The Government has appointed Håkan Pihl, currently reader in business administration at the School of Economics and Management, as the new vice-chancellor of Kristianstad University. 

Higher education news

Government to draw up new research bill 

The Government has decided to instruct the Swedish Research Council, Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte), Formas and the Swedish National Space Board, which all fund research, to put together material for the Government as input to the research policy bill that is expected to be presented in autumn 2016. Higher education institutions, businesses, business organisations, academies, trade unions, doctoral student organisations, other organisations and the public can also give their views. The material must be submitted to the Government by 25 October 2015. 

“The more education the better. Or maybe not?"

“Expanded higher education has become the political equivalent of Sloan’s liniment, able to cure all possible ailments of society. Considering the large costs involved and the even greater expectations, there is an astounding lack of discussion about this. Everyone likes education and the more education the better. Or maybe not?” writes P.J. Anders Linder in his editorial in the latest issue of Axess magazine. The theme of the issue is “Growing pains in higher education” and various writers discuss the question from different angles.

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