Again? It feels like it was just yesterday. A year goes quickly. A lot has happened, mostly during the short autumn.
An event I won’t forget from 2019 was when our new research vessel, Svea, was launched in Lysekil on a cold September day. The ceremony was beautiful, and the biggest thing for me that day was the insight that the 70 meter long, 6 floors high vessel is one big research infrastructure, filled with modern equipment. SLU’s already strong marine research has now become even stronger.
Another memorable event was when our new Vice-Chancellor Mia visited our faculty a dark afternoon in November. The visit was short, but very welcome. She visited four buildings in four hours, with an average speed of three and a half departments per hour. Both I and our Deputy Dean Pär were glad to see all the work that had been put into showing our operations. The vice-chancellor was impressed. “What a lovely faculty you have!” she stated afterwards. She also got to ride a combine harvester between the MVM building and the Ecology Centre. I followed in a tractor.
Another nice autumn event was the surprising funds, primarily from the Swedish Research Council Formas. Naturally, we shouldn’t compete within SLU, but I can’t help feeling pleased that our faculty received more than half of Formas’ many grants to SLU research. Earlier this year, we also received large grants from, among others, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, the European Research Council and the Wallenberg Foundations. I would like to congratulate all grant recipients. Well done!
In this context, I have also made another interesting observation. We have just completed our budget discussions with the department managements. The direct government funding is the foundation of all department budgets. For various reasons, this has not changed much compared to last year’s funding. Despite this, most NJ departments plan to expand their staff in 2020 – in some cases, by a lot. In other words, the faculty is doing generally well, even if this image is naturally affected by the cutbacks that we were forced to make this year, primarily within biodiversity research.
So, what can we look forward to in 2020? A new, exciting year, I’m sure. Among others, in the spring, the whole university will be included in the work with developing a new strategy for 2021–2025. It will be developed around a number of focus areas that the management discussed during autumn. The aim is that the NJ Faculty will do thorough work in which all staff members feel included. We are well staffed with a strategy group from the faculty management, which is supported by Marnie and Karin at the NJ faculty office. We count on that the departments will conduct internal discussions directly after Christmas, and that the strategy group will meet with all department managements in February. We will also use a renowned external reference group in this process.
But now, we are of course looking forward to a well-deserved Christmas holiday. With these words, I would like to thank all faculty members for this past year, and wish you a relaxed Christmas and a very Happy New Year!