Happy New Year!
Welcome to a new working year packed with challenges. The spread of infection was extensive in Skåne during the final weeks of 2020 and it became necessary to introduce a strict interpretation of the restrictions governing work at Lund University. With January now behind us things are looking a little brighter, but we cannot drop our guard now. The same restrictions that applied until the end of January now apply until further notice; all work that can be done from home is to be done from home, while necessary work on the University’s premises may only be carried out if we can guarantee safety. What has changed is the definition of work considered necessary. Some work cannot be put on hold for a month without severe losses. This applies to long-term series of measurements, work involving living materials etc., but we are now looking at consistently tight restrictions for at least half of the spring. No experimental activities can be shut down for such a long time without considerable losses, which is why we must find safe ways to work on site and ensure that activities do not come to a complete stop. For this reason, the Faculty of Science together with Faculty of Engineering (LTH) has issued new instructions and risk assessment forms to help departmental management teams pinpoint safe working methods. We will need to continue to evaluate our ways of working in the future. We can see how certain aspects of both education and research fall behind when we do not have access to our normal meeting places. The absence of our presence gnaws away at our working relationships and we cannot escape the fact that it is harder to inspire, enthuse and have discussions on digital platforms than it is in a physical meeting. I worry about what social distancing is doing to our students’ and employees’ mental health, and this is a risk we must also take into account. We need to find ways of making this distancing merely physical, not social. Welcome to a new working year packed with challenges!
Welcome also to a new working year filled with hope. We have new management at Lund University. Erik Renström and his team were inaugurated at a ceremony on Friday 22 January with as much pomp and circumstance as Zoom allowed. There are many new faculty management teams and we look forward to working alongside the new dean of LTH, Annika Olsson, the new dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Kristina Åkesson, the new dean of the Faculty of Law, Eva Ryrstedt, the new dean of the School of Economics and Management, Mats Benner and all their faculty management teams. Here at our faculty we can welcome Sandra Pott, our new dean responsible for third-cycle studies. The relatively rapid turnover in both the university management and the faculty management teams disrupts ingrained patterns, which is both healthy and necessary. Our University operates in a rapidly changing world and there is a considerable need for constant rejuvenation in terms of both activities and management. I hope that we are all able to start seeing a downward trend in the spread of infection in 2021 and that new waves of the pandemic have a less serious impact. Even if vaccination does not prove to be a magic wand that solves the problem entirely, we can perhaps hope for a slightly more normal autumn for 2021. I hope to meet my colleagues and students properly before 2021 is over. Not so long ago this would have gone without saying, but now it has become more of a hope. Welcome to a new working year filled with hope!
Sven Lidin, dean