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In times of turbulence

There has been some turbulence recently regarding the procedure for offering a professorship at KTH. I won’t go into detail here, but will await the findings of the external inquiry. I welcome that inquiry and have nothing to hide.

I have always maintained, fervently, that KTH should strive to be accessible to everybody, regardless of gender or background. More diversified recruitment increases access to talent and strengthens the quality of research, education and collaboration at KTH. This is neither particularly bold nor controversial, but rather an outlook I imagine that most people share.

Recently though, it has occurred to me that the questioning of my actions might also be about something else. I am not saying that it definitely is. But just for a moment, let’s suppose that the results of the study entitled Gender-based vulnerability in academia at KTH, or my debate article (in Swedish) on merit and qualification are relevant in the context.

That is one perspective. The procedures around how a professor becomes a professor could be another perspective to focus on.

It is uncomfortable, and a serious matter, when people unjustly get caught in the middle. The tone, often aggressive and attacking and lacking any personal respect, is something that saddens and disappoints me. We are happy to expound the virtues of academic freedom and the need for critical thinking. But recently, it would appear that scientific order and academic responsibility are lacking in certain places – as indeed is the ability to produce and examine facts.

My tenure as President ends in five months, and I must say that this is not quite how I envisaged the run-up to the finishing line. But that’s on a personal level and of less importance. Presidents come and go. I will of course dwell on how things could end up like this. I will also take with me the image of a highly successful, international university, with a great many excellent researchers, teachers and administrators. And no one can change that.