Christmas greetings to students, staff and UiB alumni.
In this Christmas greeting, the Rector sums up some of the highlights of the past year.
Dear students, fellow members of staff and UiB alumni.
We are at the end of yet another rich year.
In 2018, we have really put ourselves on the map internationally UiB now has a presence in many arenas, and it is clear that our expertise has an impact on the world.
One of these connections has gained extra media attention this year, namely our research and exchange collaboration with Chinese research environments. We welcome the critical debate, at the same time, I am pleased with our increased contact and the enormous opportunities this brings for developing good research and exchange collaboration.
UiB has also featured in the media in connection with many other matters, but one was far more visible than the rest. This autumn we read about our archaeologists at the Centre for Early Human Behaviour (SapeinCE), and their groundbreaking discovery. They found a stone with the world's oldest drawing, and the news spread around the world. Last year, Prof. Christoffer Henshilwood and his team at the centre were awarded the status of being a Centre of Research Excellence. This year's discovery illustrates very well how our outstanding researchers are expanding knowledge and research horizons.
UiB leads the way in several areas, and this year we were the first university to launch a humanities strategy. This follows up on the Norwegian Government’s white paper on the humanities. The latest international rankings show that our humanities researchers are ranked sixth in the world for most cited research. It is therefore a given that we should be proactive in our strategic work.
That our strategic work is bearing fruit was something we witnessed in Barcelona. The Gartner Symposium/ITxpo conference was being held there for more than 7,000 European IT leaders and other European luminaries. And UiB was highlighted as an example of how to approach the complete digitisation of exams. A feather in the hat for our digitisation strategy, the DigUiB programme, and for everyone who has worked to introduce this.
Our thorough work with digitalization is also visible in this year's many important allocations to UiB-projects. For example, we just received the announcement that two of our four applications for DIKU's digitalization projects were granted.
Also, other significant launches from last year are in full swing this year. Our newest faculty, the Faculty of Fine Arts, Music and Design, is a good example of this. This year, UiB became the first Norwegian university to offer a PhD In artistic development work. We also see that there is a lot of exciting interdisciplinary collaboration impending. For example, work is being done between designers and medical professionals, among other things to meet health challenges such as dementia.
Our media cluster, Media City Bergen, is another great example of synergies that have continued after being established last year. The media cluster gets a lot of praise, and puts Bergen on the map internationally. This year we have also opened a new centre for investigative journalism, which I am excited to hear more from in the future.
Minister of Trade and Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen summed up our knowledge clusters in a great way when he said: "You have shown here in Bergen how we should do it as a country." Just keep looking to the west, as we will continue to do this in the years to come.
If we head even further west, more specifically across the pond and to Florida, then you could witness a shining example of UiB's research. This would be the glow from the SpaceX rocket engines on their way up into space, with UiB research on board. The Birkeland Centre at UiB has developed the instrument which will measure atmospheric gamma-ray bursts from lightning, part of the ASIM project. Yet another example of the work done by our Centres of Research Excellence leading to brilliant results.
But the year has not only been about happy things, because last autumn we also received the worst imaginable news a university could receive. It was with great sadness that we received notification of the tragic car accident in South Africa that cost one of our students their life. We send our warmest condolences to the family.
You students are the most important thing we have, and it is of great importance to us that you are happy at UiB. This year a survey on student health and well-being was conducted. Unfortunately, it showed that many students in Norway experience loneliness. But it also showed that the vast majority of students are very satisfied with Bergen as a city for students and with the university. We must use this as good foundation to work more on including each other and facing the challenges of loneliness.
We also recently got the message from the Norwegian Directorate of Health that we will receive funding for our mentoring scheme for our students. This is a collaboration with the student welfare organization, and it will be an important contribution for our students.
2018 has been a brilliant year for collaboration with our students. We have benefited considerably from the Student Council's input and assessments. We also see that our students are involved in many of the exciting events taking place in the city. For example, UiB students were behind the conference successes "We need to talk about the future" and "Bergen International Student Conference". The climate and social debate are increasingly on the agenda.
The fact that the students are concerned with the climate and society has also been evident in other arenas. Their involvement was crucial to our first national sustainability conference. This was one of the most significant things to happen at UiB this year. We have also taken the role of being the leading university for sustainability, nationally in our sector. Many people are probably also aware that UiB has become the official Hub institution for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, Life below water, for United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI). There are only 16 other universities in the world that have been given such roles, and we are very proud of our marine environments.
The year has featured many different events. 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.
Then it only remains to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!
Dag Rune Olsen