Seeing students off and welcoming new ones

Graduation ceremony in Aula Medica 13 January, 2017. Photo: Gunnar Ask

Welcome back to Karolinska Institutet after the holidays, students and employees!

Monday I will welcome new students to Karolinska Institutet and this Friday I had the privilege of addressing the students leaving our university at two graduation ceremonies. Meeting our students is very valuable for me as vice-chancellor. It is an opportunity to present what our university is and wha

t we stand for as well as to give some personal reflections and advice along the road. It also provides for more informal discussions with some of the students, not least the student marshals (marskalkar) who play a very important part in ceremonial aspects of our celebrations, and who guide me through the ceremony and make sure I walk in the right direction and do the right thing at the right time. Thank you for your contributions!

Graduation ceremony in Erling Persson Auditorium at Aula Medica, 13 January 2017. Photo: Gunnar Ask

A graduation ceremony followed by welcoming students illustrates what makes the university such a vibrant environment: new students arriving full of expectations and others leaving equipped with new knowledge, experiences and an attractive degree, all in a constant cycle. New students and those which have just obtained their degree share the experience of being at a cross road probably with great expectations but also a little concern. But between the two cross roads, many days have passed. As a university it is our responsibility that these days consist of educational activities of high quality fulfilling our students’ expectations and preparing them for their future important work tasks. To achieve this, leadership, not least of our educational activities, is of great importance.

Discussing leadership

By coincidence, between the graduation ceremonies, I had the opportunity to meet participants of our leadership programme “Education Manager of the Future – “Framtidens utbildningsledare”. These programmes are very important since good leadership is a prerequisite, however not sufficient, for high quality activities. At the meeting, I spoke about what kind of university KI will be in the future and thus what they will be expected to be leaders of; An internationally leading medical university competing for students, teachers and researchers on a global market; An extensive operation with over 6000 students and 6000 employees, with many activities, both research and education, taking place partly within the health care sector, and last but not least, all of this anchored on the solid ground of being a public authority, tasked by the government to serve society’s need for new knowledge.

I also touched upon on how to be a good leader, where I can only refer to my own thoughts and experiences. My ambition is to be a lucid, transparent and communicative leader, while at the same time being responsive and having a listening attitude. I believe that well-informed students and employees perform better. It must be clear to all on what basis and by whom a decision is made. Mandates and responsibilities must also be clear.

Then we had a very fruitful discussion where we touched on many important aspects such as who is responsible for what, not least in the interface between the university and the health care sector? We also discussed the importance of clear rules and regulations and that these are followed and how do we as leaders deal with different difficult questions we might encounter? I very much appreciated the discussion and wish we would have had more time!




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