Tag Archives: jukka_jurvelin

Get exited – about something!

“I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it…” For some reason, that song by Pointer Sisters was ringing in my ears last summer when I was riding my motorbike along Road 92 in Finnish Lapland. It made me think about the things that I’m excited about. Getting immersed in my thoughts while riding through beautiful summer scenery is definitely on the top of the list: that’s truly exciting and empowering.

Excitement should also be something one associates with working, at least from time to time. Although I’ve heard that in research, excitement is not enough, one needs to have passion. Passion makes people do incredible things, sometimes downright crazy ones. When passion is in play, one doesn’t count the hours. That’s what has happened to many researchers and they’ve been able to keep that passion alive year in, year out. That’s all great, but I think a word of warning is in place. Every now and then, it’s good to stop and think about time management, as when we get older, our bodies can remind us that too much is too much. It’s wise to pay close attention to these signals.

My faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, succeeded very well in acquiring Academy of Finland funding this spring. This compensates for our weaker performance in earlier years, and hopefully will help us get through some difficult times. Success is a source of excitement and it builds faith in the things we are doing. As the Dean of the faculty, I’m proud of and grateful to our staff.

So, get excited about something. Finding that one source of inspiration is a resource each and every one of us should have. It serves as a motor for everything we do and also helps us cope at work. For many people here at the university, work can be major resource, but most of us also need something else. Holidays are often revitalising, especially if one has something exciting to do. I’m already waiting for mine.

Jukka JurvelinJukka Jurvelin
Dean, Faculty of Science and Forestry

University – yesterday, today and tomorrow

The role of universities is traditional: they are sources of education at the highest level and they promote scientific research.  It is a proven fact that universities create well-being around them, and this is also true for the University of Eastern Finland.  A couple of years ago, the foundations for the activities of Finnish universities changed.  The country’s Universities Act was reformed and this was followed by the Ministry of Education and Culture introducing a new, performance-based funding model.

Although the ministry’s field-specific funding is slightly favourable to natural sciences, the fact remains that the majority of our funding is acquired as a result of our performance, not through empty promises or negotiation skills.  It is our performance that pays our salaries, and there is no separate money chest on which the Dean is sitting out of mere malice.

Furthermore, it is impossible to acquire sufficient funding, if the responsibility for it lies on the shoulders of the “chosen few”. We are the UEF orchestra. Each member of this orchestra plays an important role – or instrument, if you will – and only harmonious tunes translate into good performance.

In the light of the current situation, natural sciences (and many other fields, too) face major challenges when it comes to succeeding in university economy. Funding for the upcoming years is tied to previous years’ performance. In the ministry’s model, funding for 2015 is allocated on the basis of our performance in 2011–2013. In other words, we now have to lie in a bed we made back then.

Anyone will tell you that we’ve worked hard, and I, too, believe this is true.  Our faculty has also acquired ever so important external funding for the purposes on making our activities increasingly effective.  But why does it seem that our performance isn’t quite enough and that our costs easily exceed our income? Are we doing things correctly? Do we have the right people doing the right things?  Is external funding the right kind of funding for achieving performance that is observed in the ministry’s funding model? Or is this funding used in an optimal way?

As the people who do things and achieve results, we need to think about these things, because it is our joint performance that keeps the UEF ship afloat. If we only seek to create savings and cut our costs, we may drive ourselves to a situation where it no longer is possible to perform well. What is good about the situation is the fact that these more efficient measures need to be targeted at the very things the university is supposed to be doing: cost-efficient and high level of education and research.

We all need to be aware of today’s realities. We may not have understood in 2011 that our performance back then would be decisive three years later. Now we can’t afford to wake up in a couple of years’ time to realise that we should have been doing something different in 2014.

We have plenty of potential; we just need to focus on doing the right things. And this takes courage – the worst we can do is to sweep things under the rug.

Jukka JurvelinJukka Jurvelin