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Read Rector Jukka Kola's greeting to the members of the Alumni Association.

The new Strategic Plan of the University of Helsinki outlines our key objectives and the core measures needed for their implementation during the period 2017–2020. Our objectives include 1) a creative, international environment for learning and top-level research, 2) putting the focus on the student, and 3) ensuring resources for reform. No matter in which ways or how intensively each of us can contribute to these objectives, we will move in the right direction! Our vision of being a global force and engaging in interaction coincides with Finland’s vision in its centenary, which is “Finland 100 – together”. You cannot be a global force by yourself, but together with your partners this is possible. You cannot be a global force unless you first have become a strong national force. It is clear that some of our national forces, especially the University of Helsinki, must assume a more active and visible role in the international arena in order to promote Finland’s visibility and the theme of togetherness. A positive outlook both nationally and internationally must be boosted to ensure Finland’s wellbeing and competitiveness in the future.

We need to be more active in our international efforts also in order to diversify our way of thinking and perspectives, especially in this day and age. Otherwise we will not be able to understand, let alone solve, the great intractable problems facing the world today. The University’s collaboration with the Alumni Association is both active and fruitful. Our strategic plans are in harmony, after all, they were simultaneously drafted last year. We have found many common ways to promote the University’s important objective of putting the focus on the student. The voluntary work that our alumni do among students is truly valuable and will have a lasting effect on the future of our youth.

Another key area of collaboration are competitive degrees, which means that degrees are attractive to young people selecting a university as well as to employers planning to hire Master’s and doctoral graduates. Degrees must be attractive both nationally and internationally. Our English-language Master’s programmes must attract talented students from all over the world. Our graduates, both Finnish and international, must have the competencies that meet the sometimes very rapidly changing demands of their professions. This is not merely a challenge, but also an opportunity, as long as we work together and take advantage of the high-quality expertise and strong commitment of our teachers, students and alumni. Alumni participation in the planning of teaching and learning contents and methods is both useful and necessary. Elements that clarify employer demands and expectations as well as improve students’ career skills must increasingly be integrated into courses and degree programmes. The current Big Wheel education reform offers an excellent opportunity for this (see page 28). Mentoring is a good method to outline students’ career prospects in individual or small group sessions. Alumni have been numerous and active in offering personal cooperation opportunities to students (see page 12).

The Alumni Association has launched new international initiatives with the establishment of the local alumni clubs in Berlin and Beijing. There are plans to set up similar clubs in Brussels and London in 2017. Last October I was honoured to host a successful alumni event in the San Francisco Bay Area in conjunction with a trip to establish closer cooperation with the renowned universities in Berkeley and Stanford. These clubs promote our University’s internationalisation efforts while increasing the visibility of Finland on a larger scale. Such activities may have far-reaching and wide-ranging effects: the whole of Finland will benefit. The Alumni Association and the University of Helsinki engage in close collaboration in the name of mutual benefit and success. At the same time, we generate extensive and versatile impact for the good of Finland and the entire world. During Finland’s centenary, the significance of the University of Helsinki, which will celebrate its 377th anniversary, will become evident when examining the development of Finland towards independence and as an independent country.  The University will be especially proud to welcome the Alumnus of the Year 2010, the active member of the Alumni Association and the recent Nobel laureate in economics, Bengt Holmström, to appear in various events at the University in 2017.

Each and every alumnus and alumna have the above and every other reason to be proud of their alma mater, which should also encourage more alumni to become involved in and committed to alumni activities. Through extensive alumni activities we can have greater impact – together. Let’s do our best for our country and for the world!

Jukka Kola
Rector of the University of Helsinki, DSc (Agr&For), member of the Alumni Association