Letter from the Dean

Last changed: 16 February 2023
Dean Torleif Härd, photo.

Despite the troubled world that we live in, our faculty has certainly had its share of good news this year.

First, the recent funding bonanza from the research councils. Incredible! In previous years, I’ve been beaming about what I thought were downpours of funding, but this year that word is almost an understatement given the grants we’ve been awarded.

Some of the other faculties have also done very well. It’s interesting to note that some of the increase in our external funding can be traced to a growing interest in ‘our’ issues, in society and among funding bodies. Right now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a positive decision by the Mistra board this afternoon. We could be looking at even more money.

Looking back, the highlight of this year has been the visits to departments with Deputy Dean Sara this spring. I meet colleagues a lot of the time in different contexts, but it was still impressive and awe-inspiring to hear about everything going on at our faculty. A big thank you to everyone for receiving us and showing us your work!

Another recurring highlight in a dean’s year is the docent trial lectures in March and September. These are open lectures where our junior, promising researchers give thoroughly prepared lectures on exciting research topics. I’m always looking forward to these events, and Sara and I attended more or less all of them this year. Unfortunately, attendance from the rest of the faculty is often a bit thin. I want to encourage everyone to take the opportunity to attend the docent lectures in 2023 to hear about the exciting research in our departments. Some departments, like Soil and Environment, often turn up in force.

Another piece of good news is that the general public’s knowledge about SLU is growing. At last Tuesday’s meeting with the vice-chancellor’s management group, the reputation index from Kantar Public was presented. There are a number of strengths affecting our reputation, and three of the most important ones are successful research, credibility in media and being a successful university. This is music to a dean’s ears. As I said, knowledge about us has increased, but there is a slight drop in reputation this year – according to some because of what has been said in media this year about our forest research (at least this shows we’re seen as credible). I’m sure this is a temporary setback and the statements by our NJ researchers on nature conservation issues have certainly been objective and insightful!

So, what can we wish for and look forward to in 2023? First of all, we obviously want to see an end to the war and Russia leaving Ukraine – nothing is more important. At our faculty, however, we can look forward to 2023 with confidence. Earlier and new grants will require hard work and lead to exciting and relevant progress. Our research will break new ground and we will share our knowledge with yet another cohort of amazing students. We will provide society with data and knowledge for decision-making. This makes SLU a unique university in Sweden. Society cannot do without us! Remember this responsibility, and be proud of it.

But first, I hope you will all enjoy some rest. I want to encourage you to really take some time off, to relax and look back on how you’ve grown this year, be proud of that and look forward to the coming year with confidence. Ours is in every way an amazing faculty, and I am so proud of you.

Wishing you all a pleasant festive period,

Torleif, Dean

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