We are nearing the end of 2020 – a year that has been a challenge to both our work and private lives. We have experienced a terrible year characterised by illness, death and other tragedies in the wake of the pandemic.
At SLU, the pandemic has left its greatest mark on teaching activities. Our teaching staff have shown great commitment and perseverance in their dedicated efforts to find innovative solutions. Thanks to their hard work, we have been able to continue running our activities and operations – despite these extreme conditions.
The pandemic has also affected other situations, with doctoral thesis defences being just one area to have faced tough challenges.
A huge thank you to everyone who has made everything possible, and to our students who have also helped us to make this transition. One positive effect from all of this suffering is that we have gained many experiences and new knowledge that we will be able to take with us once we return to the “new normal” after the pandemic. This is particularly the case for the new premises in Alnarp, and the development of SLU’s campus environments.
There have been several highlights for the department this year. The Swedish Higher Education Authority has completed its assessment of the quality assurance processes for courses and programmes and we can proudly state that SLU was the first higher education institution to have had its QA system approved.
There has been a record number of applicants to courses and programmes offered at the department and we have been given the go-ahead for a new programme specialising in food and landscape within the nascent field of food studies.
The inauguration of the Max Planck Centre at the Faculty of Landscape Architecture, Horticulture and Crop Production Science at the start of the year just shows that our research is of a high international standard. 2020 has also seen success in the competition for external funding; while the results following the Formas call for proposals could have been better, those from the Swedish Research Council were positive.
Everyone at SLU should give themselves a pat on the back and be proud of our work and our university. Thanks to our knowledge, skills and innovations we are able to contribute to a sustainable society in ways that no other higher education institution can. Staff and students make this possible together with collaborations within SLU and thanks to external placements and knowledge environments. Results from a recent SIFO survey have shown that SLU’s public image remains stable and we have a good position in relation to other higher education institutions. As for positive media image, SLU comes in 7th place – on a par with the Stockholm School of Economics. We can improve our image even more if we continue to increase awareness about SLU. As staff, we are important ambassadors for our university.
The faculty has also begun a project to strengthen research communication, continuing work with the new strategy. SIFO suggested that research communication is one way of demonstrating the link between SLU’s activities and important social challenges.
Zeal and Integrity
This year has seen a record number of staff receiving the Zeal and Integrity in the Kingdom's Service award given to anyone who has been employed by the Swedish State for 30 years.
Anne-Charlotte Sandström, Service
Beatrix Alsanius, Biosystems and Technology
Madeleine Magnusson, Biosystems and Technology
Maria Luisa Prieto-Linde, Plant Breeding
Marie Olsson, Plant Breeding
Marie Larsson, Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management
Susanna Lundqvist, Collaboration and Development
Torsten Hörndahl, Biosystems and Technology
Ylva Hillbur, Pro Vice-Chancellor, international relations
All received the award and we would like to make a point of saying a special thank you to you all, since we cannot conduct the ceremony as we usually do.
We also want to congratulate Burcu Yigit-Turan who has been awarded the PhD student council’s supervisor award for exceptional contributions to doctoral education.
Docents are a cornerstone of doctoral studies thanks to their role as supervisors. This year we are delighted to welcome four new docents to three of our departments: Mariette Andersson, Paul Egan, Gunilla Lindholm and Kimmo Rumpunen.
During 2021, the faculty will make further investment into continuing professional development for our current supervisors of doctoral students. Supervisors play a vital role in ensuring the quality of doctoral studies as well as the work environment for doctoral students.
Work and study environment
During 2020, work has intensified with creating a work and study environment free from discrimination and victimisation. Targeted, long-term action for change needs to permeate the entire organisation and focus on norms and values – which in turn requires a culture shift. We have seen how committed both staff and managers have been to this work – just one of the keys to success.
Strategy work at both university and faculty level is now complete and we are ready to enter the new five-year strategy period. We want to thank all of you who contributed opinions and suggestions for this important work. The strategy document uses the university’s vision as a basis for outlining priorities for creating good conditions for the organisation, and it should act as a guide when making daily decisions. The faculty strategy supplements and makes the main and interim targets of the university strategy concrete. Work with operational plans has now begun at faculty, department/unit level and will form the basis of activities to power us towards the targets in the strategy.
As we reach the end of this letter, we want to remind you to make the most of your time off over the festive period and focus on self care – not work.
Thank you all for your commitment and efforts throughout this unusual year.
We wish you a wonderful festive season and a happy new year!
Håkan Shroeder, Dean, Karl Lövrie, Deputy Dean, Åsa Lankinen, Vice Dean and Lena Ekelund Axelson, Vice Dean at the Faculty of Landscape Architecture, Horticulture and Crop Production Science (LTV).