Rector: somebody didn’t do their job, perhaps

Katre Tatrik
, reporter
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Photo: Margus Ansu

University of Tartu council supported management and structural reform of the institution while declining to ratify new statutes, advising senate to ponder some more over names of academic units. Regarding that, senate decision could come today. Volli Kalm, rector of the university, is ready to allow institutes to call themselves faculties.

Rector Volli Kalm, the reform plan has been criticised from inside and outside of the university.

Quite a reaction. But, for me, the reaction from the council has also been important. The council said it quite unanimously supports the reform.

Well, in reality it didn’t, did it?

Yes, as it afterwards emerged. But let them settle the issue between themselves. I do not want to comment on that. Glancing at the council decision, it explicitly reads that the council is supportive of the management and structural reform. And assures us that this is the very thing the council has also advised the senate about, and what it has expected from the senate. Thirdly, the decision states, and rightly so, that the so-called name to which identity is linked – that issue the senate must review.

In an opinion article of yours you have said you do not believe in the magic of names.

And I still don’t. I believe that it’s a domain or some activity that carries the identity. It’s the essence, the content that carries the identity of a specialty.

In the university, examples abound of specialties where inside-Estonia and international identity, which is really strong, is not linked to any structural unit bearing that name. While saying that, I would not mean to deny that for many people the name of the unit may carry a vital link to identity.

Opponents to the reform have very clearly said they aren’t interested in name games. They want to maintain their autonomy and retain competency of decision-making. In addition to the surface side of the reform – the names issue – will the senate also be discussing essential stuff?

Essential issues of the reform have been discussed for a year and a half.

How is it possible then, that in 1.5 years, the subordinates still don’t grasp that the reform is good and why? I just finished talking to the dean of your largest faculty and he claimed to still not understand why four faculties need to be created, and why these four. Somebody somewhere didn’t do their job?

Quite possibly, somebody didn’t do their job. But the same social and educational faculty dean has said, regarding the management reform that it is too weak and ought to be more forceful. These were the dean’s very words at the university board.

What are they discussing, at the senate today, when it comes to the new statutes?

As the head of the senate, I cannot dictate that.

The first proposal will be to take the statutes into the agenda. If that happens, which I heartily hope, then it will be discussed how to regulate the name-identity issue.

Thus, the formal issues will be on the agenda, not the essential ones – could some faculty be maintained, how will the rights be distributed?

That has already been decided.

A main argument of yours has been that by creating strong institutes within large faculties will provide the academic units a stronger mandate. What does that actually mean?

For example it would mean that the current law faculty dean Jaan Ginter, who also sits as chairman of social domain council – the very council which will then become social faculty council –, will become a member of the Rectorate. Right now, he is one of the nine deans and three college directors who meet the Rectorate once a month in the advisory board. Then, he’ll be member of the Rectorate.

Even so, the resistance has been very strong...

The more I talk to lawyers, the more I realise that the information forwarded by our legal faculty to lawyers has been partial.

What they were all responding to and sending us letters – it was as far from the truth as can be.

In the future, the main structural unit of the university will be an institute or an academic unit in the rank of an institute; and I hope that today the senate will correct the statutes so that it could also bear the name of faculty and would be responsible for content of study and quality of research.