Letter from the campus head of development

Sense of community amidst change

Change is the only constant, an old fact that applies well also to the year 2017 at the University. In 2017, the measures carried out under the scope of the University’s Change Programme launched in 2015 still had a significant impact on everyday life at the University.

In January, the redesign of regulations related to launching new degree programmes and transferring to faculties without departments commenced. The work was completed at the December meeting of the Board of the University. During the year, the incorporation of the University’s facility and property services was carried out, while parts of laboratory services were reorganised.

In conjunction with this reform of the regulations, the duties and role of faculty councils and faculty management were also extensively discussed. The University community expressed strong support for consolidating the role of faculty councils, which materialised, among other things, through the selection of the dean, a duty reinstated as part of the duties of the faculty council in the regulation reform. The role of the faculty council was substantiated in other ways as well.

During spring 2017, a review group led by Professor Sue Scott looked into the experiences of the University’s staff and students related to the upheavals of recent years. The group’s report highlighted the dissatisfaction felt by members of the University community in the content and manner of implementation of the changes. Many respondents thought too many large-scale changes had been simultaneously implemented at the University. Criticism was also levelled at the University’s leadership, while debate on the changes was considered insufficient. Based on the report, the leadership drafted measure proposals to engender mutual trust among the University community and to improve occupational wellbeing.

In the autumn, a workplace wellbeing survey was conducted at the University, with 62.8% of the community responding. At the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the response rate was no less than 75.1% As a whole, the survey results largely corresponded with those of the previous survey conducted in 2015. The most positive feedback was given for the content of personal duties and expertise, as well as the work of immediate supervisors. The most criticism was levelled at the strategic leadership on the University level and internal communications at the University. In 2017, a sense of community and its development became an overriding theme at the University.

A sense of community is often best engendered through smooth and flexible everyday activities, in addition to which good leadership and separately organised communal activities in the form of development and workplace wellbeing days, celebrations and other similar events are also required.

In 2017, several events related to communality, varying in scale, were organised at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. In March, the Faculty organised a development seminar in Vuosaari to discuss issues such as the standards of education in veterinary medicine, the One Health research programme and the operational structure of the Faculty. The strong points and development targets highlighted by the workplace wellbeing survey were reviewed in events held by individual departments.

In the autumn, the traditional Faculty Day was held at conference centre Koskenranta. The theme of the day was A community of individuals, introduced by Professor Emerita Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen. The day featured lively debates concerning personality, the functioning of a workplace and a sense of community.


Leo Pyymäki
Head of development for the Viikki Campus
University of Helsinki