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Christmas 2017

Christmas greetings to students and staff

An eventful year for the University of Bergen is soon coming to an end. In his Christmas greeting, the Rector sums up some of the highlights of the past year.

Rektor Dag Rune Olsen
Eivind Senneset

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Dear students and fellow members of staff

Yet another eventful year is drawing to a close, and on this occasion it is a pleasure for us to sum up some of the highlights, and not least to wish everyone a Happy Christmas.

2017 has shown that there are still many events in the international arena that require the skills that universities have to offer. Developments on the international arena, particularly in the West and East, make it necessary to follow closely on both fronts.

For example, there is increasing prosperity in China, at the same time as global challenges need to be met. This process creates international consequences and must therefore also be understood. Our knowledge also makes a contribution to understanding international conflicts. In 2017, the ongoing war in Syria has probably had the greatest impact. A recent example is the steadily increasing awareness of the climate crisis, that shows a change in focus and an increased recognition of the problem, and thereby the need for research. We want to make our contribution just as universities traditionally do, with dissemination and management of knowledge on behalf of the rest of society.

From the university we see constantly that our researchers are called upon to present their views and their professional perspectives on international affairs. This demonstrates that the university has a more important role than ever. Particularly in terms of counteracting “fake news” and disinformation. The expert knowledge we impart is invaluable in the face of major societal challenges.

Ocean, life, society; the words of our strategy demonstrate the focus we have on meeting societal challenges and guiding our progress. The plastic whale received tremendous media attention, and clearly stressed the importance of observing the oceans. In respect of both the possibilities and the challenges we find there. Our research in this field will be decisive in the future.

The achievement of our priority aims has been physically visible in our buildings. The new Faculty of Art, Music and Design was opened in Snøhetta’s award-winning building. The students at AMD have a lot to offer, and we look forward to even more exciting contributions from them in the year to come. Our role as a broad-based university has been further emphasized through AMD.

The new Media City Bergen also marks the first opening of the cluster buildings in which we participate. The building itself is very impressive, but to see that it promotes cooperation between the cluster partners is the key element. The rationale behind the cluster is to unite public, private and academic actors all in one place. The Media City Bergen success proves that it works!

In addition to this we have opened our Climate cluster at Geofysen. We have started and organised the work at the Medieval cluster, Fintek, Health cluster and Marine cluster. This year's work on clusters is of great significance for the future development of research and education.

Interdisciplinary cooperation can also be seen in our new Norwegian Centre of Excellence which was a highlight in this field. The Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour, led by Christopher Henshilwood, clearly demonstrates the importance of interdisciplinary effort. At a more general level, we have also been able to boast about all our researchers who did extremely well in the International Citation Index.

The most exciting event of the year must be said to have been the drama surrounding the Viking treasure. Because it was a pitiful sight that met our colleagues when they came to work on 14 August. The media, and through them the Norwegian people, followed the case closely. It was with great pleasure and relief that we could report that most of the treasure was eventually recovered, albeit somewhat damaged.

Towards the end of the year, the #Metoo campaign has made its impression on the media scene. The campaign's content is important, and it has also impacted our sector. As has become evident, there has been a need for us to take further action and be more aware of this than we have been in the past. This is a very serious issue and has been a wake-up call for many. It is also positive that it is brought up on the agenda so that we can work constructively with the problem in the future.

A lesser known side of our institution is that we have a number of apprentices getting work experience with us here. This is also something we are very proud of, and at the very end of the year we were even awarded the award as "State Training Establishment of the Year".

In other words, it has been a year with many events of a different nature. Whether positive or negative this is something we deal with together. Students and members of staff. Together, we are administrators of knowledge defined by its quality. We use this to educate, research, develop and create. Thus we also fulfil our role in society, and I would like to thank all of you for that. This year as in all previous years.

Finally, I would like to thank you for being re-elected for a new period as Rector, along with a partly new Rector position. I would like to congratulate all the new, and  re-appointed, Deans.

Then it only remains to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

Dag Rune Olsen