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Summer greeting

A summer field with yellow flowers.

With each day that passes, I become more impressed by this organisation. In the early spring, we came out of the pandemic (well, not completely, but there was at least a loosening of restrictions that were paralysing society) to be met by a new uncertainty, which since then has unsettled us and caused anxiety – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Just as when the pandemic struck, Lund University showed once again its ability to adapt – in this case to find solutions for Ukrainians who either wanted to study or conduct research here in Lund or remotely during their period of displacement. It feels extremely good that we now have a student exchange agreement with the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev – even though it only a small part in alleviating the considerable humanitarian suffering the country is experiencing. It is also heart-warming to have seen so many students and staff engaged in supporting Ukraine since the war broke out.

This spring has also offered many festivities and ceremonies. It is well-nigh our duty to honour openness, democracy and academic advances in times of uncertainly. There has been not one, but two doctoral degree conferment ceremonies, perhaps more beautiful and more ceremonial than ever, partly because it was a long time since we were able to celebrate the new doctors together, and partly because the doctoral degree conferment ceremony clarifies the universal nature of academia – peaceful cooperation striving to make the world a little better.

In addition, there was the Lund Carnival. To be able to see the genuine joy, the humorous antics characteristic of Lund, the sense of community and the festivities in Lundagård shows that it has also been very special this year. It also strengthens my conviction that young people need to be in a physical context and that campus-based activities will remain and also flourish even in times of digitalisation. To see the throng of students back on campus has been the highpoint of the spring!

The more routine daily work has continued as well and even though it is not conspicuous, it is exactly this that takes us forward and helps the University develop. Today, I have decided on the profile areas, which the faculties have been working on intensively for a long time. Pro Vice-Chancellor Per Mickwitz has more to say on this in his post “Five profile areas have been selected in a process that highlighted strong knowledge environments”. The work on the profile areas has led to many interdisciplinary meetings and discussions, and I am convinced that these efforts will also have a ripple effect for the forthcoming research discussions and choice of direction at the faculties.

Right now, in these first weeks of the summer, we are also waiting expectantly to find out whether the consortium that includes Lund University will be named as a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) in the cultural and creative sectors and industries. It is an historically large EU investment and also in this case the faculties worked very hard leading up to the application, which was submitted in this spring.

I would like to thank everybody who has made this spring so bright, hopeful and memorable, despite the dark clouds drawing in over Europe. I am reminded that there are more powers for good than evil in the world and that academia is a power that makes a real difference for people. And that’s not a bad feeling at all to take with you into the summer.
I wish you a great summer and a pleasant break when it arrives!

/Erik Renström, Vice-Chancellor

This text is included in LU News no 12 - 2022