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New Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg Inaugurated

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The auditorium of the University of Gothenburg’s main building was filled to capacity when Eva Wiberg, the University of Gothenburg’s 19th vice-chancellor, was inaugurated on 8 September.‘Leading a university is a team effort. I will have Pro-Vice-Chancellor Mattias Goksör by my side, but also all the staff and students. Together, we will make the University of Gothenburg even stronger,’ she explained in her inaugural speech.

The inauguration of Eva Wiberg, professor of Italian and new vice-chancellor of the University of Gothenburg, began with a procession to the tune of Jeremiah Clarke’s The Prince of Denmark’s March.

Next in the programme was a speech by Cecilia Schelin Seidegård, chair of the University Board, who among other things pointed out that Gothenburg University College, which eventually became the University of Gothenburg, was created by socially engaged citizens.

‘You came to us from Lund University, a somewhat introverted organisation, where the distance to the neighbouring city of Malmö is sometimes thought of as Earth’s entire circumference minus 20 kilometres. Now you’re in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city and gateway to the world, where taxi drivers don’t know where the University is located and the local newspaper only writes about the University when they suspect somebody did something wrong there. But our University is characterised by strong social involvement and a willingness to deal with the global challenges of our time, such as climate change, overutilisation of our planet’s resources, a precarious security situation, fake news and a disregard for knowledge.’

Ellinor Alvesson, chair of the University of Gothenburg Student Unions, referred back to a speech by the University’s first rector, Hjalmar Frisk.
‘He likened the University to a window that lets in a draught of fresh air, fresh air that seems to benefit the bacteria of freedom and rebellion. We, the students, hope that you, Eva Wiberg, each time you make a decision make sure it is supported by the students and that we together make sure that the window of freedom will never be closed.’

Former Vice-Chancellor Pam Fredman pointed out that a vice-chancellor has one of society’s most important assignments.
‘The University’s motto, tradita innovare, innovata tradere, means “to renew our heritage and pass it on renewed”. The University makes an important contribution to the UN’s sustainable development goals, we have both breadth and depth, as well as great engagement among our staff and students. It is a privilege to be vice-chancellor and I hope that you will find it as wonderful as I have.’

After her speech, Fredman handed over the vice-chancellor’s chain to her successor, to the sound of the University’s own fanfare. Eva Wiberg thanked Fredman for having unified the University and for, with an ‘inexhaustible stream of positive energy’, never having missed an opportunity to address and pursue key issues in the higher education sector.
‘So what’s the University’s role today? The politicians want innovations, the employers want skilled workers, society wants responsible citizens. Yet our task is not limited to the mere dissemination of knowledge; we must also encourage and stimulate people’s development of knowledge, skills, understandings and insights at a deeper level, what we in Sweden call bildning.’

Wiberg also stressed the importance of focusing on the students and of having a professional management structure where the collegiate bodies interact with the line organisation.
‘RED 19, quality of education, UGOT Challenges and other interdisciplinary initiatives, inclusion of newly arrived refugees, gender equality, outreach, increased internationalisation and, not least, a good work environment – these are some key areas for the future.’

Regarding the question of what type of leadership we can expect from the new vice-chancellor, State Secretary Karin Röding invited the audience to seek the answer in Wiberg’s doctoral thesis titled Il riferimento temporale nel dialogo.
‘As the linguist she is, maybe she will communicate with each individual in their own language. Or she will translate the different academic languages and make the University’s inherent voice known, nationally and internationally. Eva Wiberg is also an Italian knight – what will that mean? Regardless, the Ministry of Education and Research and I would like to wish the University of Gothenburg’s new vice-chancellor good luck.’

The inauguration event also included mainly Italian music, performed by Evelina Stenvall and Per Lindström, students at the Academy of Music and Drama. The Gothenburg Academic Chamber Chorus, led by Mathias Harms, and Göteborg Brass Quintet also performed.

Written by: Eva Lundgren
Photo: Johan Wingbor