The University’s centenary year will be imprinted in our minds for many reasons. At the beginning of the year, thousands of friends of the University gathered together in a jubilant outdoors celebration, and on the following day, the festivities continued with the Anniversary Celebration where we had a banquet hall full of guests.
It was not long after that our community was faced with a great challenge together with the rest of the society and world. As the epidemic got more severe, we promptly switched to remote work and studies, and all the doors on campus were locked.
However, our 100-year-old University stood firm in the face of this challenge. We continued to work for our common goals, physically separated but united in spirit.
During these exceptional times, we have succeeded in producing new knowledge on the coronavirus and many other topics for the needs of society with the help of the researchers of our multidisciplinary University. Our students have been studying remotely and teachers have adapted and further developed new methods for teaching. Our University Central Services have been working hard to provide their expertise in order to make all this possible. The continuation of our operations has truly required innovativeness, creative problem solving, and resilience.
A great example of our community’s joint effort has been the organisation of the entrance exams this past spring. The mostly successful but very laborious operation was essential not only for our University but for our entire society, especially from the point of view of the youth.
The collaboration between universities has also been close during these exceptional circumstances. All Finnish universities have committed to shared policies, even though the situation with the coronavirus has been more severe in some regions. This has shown shared responsibility.
The interaction between political decision-making and researchers has also been active. Professor Christina Salmivalli from the University of Turku has chaired a national multidisciplinary scientific panel that has produced evidence-based support for decision-making. We have gained several good work methods and practices during these exceptional circumstances and we should further strengthen them when the situation becomes more stable.
After the holidays, we will hopefully be able to get back to more normal daily activities according to our exit plan, while following the situation and the authorities’ instructions. Ensuring safety is our number one priority. We will continue monitoring the well-being of the members of our community together with the Student Union, as we have been doing regularly so far. We will quickly intervene in the possible issues that decrease well-being. Checking in on each other has become even more important during these exceptional circumstances. Small, everyday acts have a big impact.
Genuine human contacts are also essential for well-being and for the operation of the community. Our goal is to make it possible for everyone to meet colleagues and peers, participate in events and meetings, and teach in the autumn while, once again, taking into account safety measures and the current situation. For example, it has been important to us to organise the orientation for first-year and international students on our campuses. Integrating the new students into our community is an extremely important mission and we want to welcome them to the University in person and on campus.
I would like to wish a refreshing summer to all the members of our University community and everyone else! Let’s recharge our batteries so that we will be able to continue our important work in the autumn – together and with focus on the future!