University of Tampere’s opening ceremony sends a clear message to decision-makers to clarify the Universities Act
Photos: Jonne Renvall
At the opening ceremony of the academic year, the leadership and staff of the University of Tampere expressed their unanimity that the entire university community should have the right to participate in decision-making also after the merger of the Tampere3 universities.
Even though they did not criticise the merger itself, both Rector Liisa Laakso and Chief Shop Steward Jorma Viikki called attention to the problems in preparing for Tampere3.
Laakso sent a special message to legislators.
“Dear MPs, please amend the Universities Act so that people can interpret and apply it without having to bother the Minister, Chancellor of Justice, Administrative Court, and a large number of legal experts. The preparation of the Tampere3 transition regulations does not receive any style points, either,” Laakso said.
According to Laakso, ambiguities in the preparation of the merger have resulted in unnecessary distrust, which has not facilitated building the new higher education community.
Laakso reminded the audience that the preparations for Tampere3 started on the University of Tampere’s initiative and that the merger arises from the will of UTA’s university community: “not from that of our partners Tampere University of Technology, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Ministry of Education and Culture, industry or the city of Tampere”.
“There has been a heated debate about how the merger is implemented, but the University of Tampere has stood behind the merger itself and has never wavered from the consistent work to carry it out. Never. I am proud to say that. The timetable, organisation and marching order have all changed. The community’s ability to participate in decision-making has been far from our ideals, and new bumps in the road may still emerge,” Laakso said.
“However, the end-result is going to be what we have consistently pursued: the second largest university in Finland, which offers the most diverse range of degrees in the country” Laakso said.
The coping of personnel and bypassing members of the university community worried chief shop steward Jorma Viikki, a staff representative who spoke at the opening ceremony.
According to Viikki, it is hard to understand all phases of the Tampere3 reform from the University of Tampere’s perspective.
For members of the university community, the university has always been a community characterised by the members’ ability to influence decision-making.
“The alignments made during the preparations for Tampere3, which ignore the staff, are very unfortunate and represent a worrying change in thinking. At the same time, the much admired business world is moving in the opposite direction by getting staff genuinely more involved in the management of companies,” Viikki said.
Viikki also expressed his regret that there has been little actual and real negotiating in the reform process, in which legislation and regulations have been underrated. This is why the staff has had to resort to various appeal mechanisms. Viikki hoped that the distortions in communications would get sorted so that work could continue in accordance with normal operating procedures.
“During the reform process, I have found it very painful and even shocking to hear it repeated that the University of Tampere has not done due diligence to balance its economy,” Viikki said.
Viikki said that the University of Tampere has reduced the number of employees and increased the workload of the remaining employees even though it has not conducted co-operation negotiations about lay-offs.
The reduction of personnel that support teaching and research means that more administrative work is done by teachers and researchers.
Viikki thanked the University of Tampere for the good dialogue between the staff and the employer.
“I think that it is particularly important at the new foundation-based university that this dialogue will continue so that the co-operation with staff may develop and improve,” Viikki said.
Jarmo Kekäläinen becomes
alumnus of the year
Jarmo Kekäläinen, general manager of hockey operations of the Columbus Blue Jackets ice-hockey team in the United States, was invited as alumnus of the year. Kekäläinen graduated from the University of Tampere in 2000 with a Master of Science in Economics degree in which he majored in marketing. He has had a successful career in sports both internationally and in Finland.
Since 2013, Kekäläinen has worked for Columbus Blue Jackets and is the first European general manager in the National Hockey League NHL.
He played hockey as a forward wing at KalPa and Tampereen Ilves in Finland, Clarkson University team in the United States, Tappara, Ottawa Senators, and Vesterås IK in Sweden. After his active sports career, he worked among other things as director of player personnel at Ottawa Senators and as general manager of IFK Helsinki.
The University of Tampere invited the alumnus/-a of the year for the seventh time.
Doctor of Social Sciences Mikko Poutanen and Doctor of Social Sciences Tiina Vaittinen were awarded for the best doctoral dissertations completed in the academic year 2017–2018.
Poutanen received the award from the City of Tampere’s science foundation for his dissertation Business Meets Politics: Intertwined economic and political discursive structures in the case of Nokia in Finland.
Vaittinen received the award of the University of Tampere Foundation for her dissertation The Global Biopolitical Economy of Needs: Transnational entanglements between ageing Finland and the global nurse Reserve of the Philippines.