Introducing the deans and vice-deans of the Faculty of Arts

During the 2018–2021 term, the management of the Faculty of Arts will comprise the four-member team of Dean Hanna Snellman and Vice-Deans Jussi Pakkasvirta, Paavo Pylkkänen and Ulla Tuomarla.

Hanna Snellman – Communication, decisions and much more

Professor of Ethnology Hanna Snellman began serving as the dean of the Faculty already during the previous term after Dean Arto Mustajoki’s retirement. Prior to that, Snellman served as one of the Faculty’s vice-deans. Thus, she is already very familiar with Faculty matters.

 “The dean’s duties include communicating the plans and decisions of the University’s senior management to the staff and students of the Faculty, as well as conveying the standpoint of our staff and students to the senior management. The dean is responsible for managing issues and making reasoned decisions – often very quickly without compromising ethics, in a practical and, when necessary, empathetic manner,” Hanna Snellman summarises her job description.

Success in the position is assessed according to the following criteria: interactive leadership that inspires confidence, the creation of a strong research profile based on the University’s strategic vision as a research university, the provision of functional study paths, visible lobbying, determined and international recruitment, as well as the informed management of finances and the observance of good practices in the administration of finances and human resources.

 “Commitment to these criteria is important and straightforward,” says Snellman.

 “Now that the Faculty’s old departmental structure has been abolished, it must be replaced with one where dialogue between department and degree programme directors is secure. The Faculty Council is an important management tool, with an opportunity to include larger themes in its discussions in addition to matters to be decided by the Council in accordance with University regulations. Further contexts for collaboration include the monthly meetings of the management group and the weekly meetings of the executive board, which includes representatives of all the sectors of University Services,” describes Dean Snellman.

Furthermore, the five deans working at the City Centre Campus will establish, together with the campus head of development, another committee to promote matters concerning the City Centre Campus.

Ulla Tuomarla – Academic affairs

University Lecturer in French Philology Ulla Tuomarla serves as the vice-dean responsible for academic affairs. She has solid administrative experience from her time as the Head of the Department of Modern Languages. Tuomarla also deputises for Dean Hanna Snellman and serves as the Director of the Department of Languages.

As the vice-dean responsible for academic affairs, she coordinates the Faculty’s academic and admissions affairs, as well as the development of its teaching.

“First and foremost, my mission is to ensure that new degree programmes will get off the ground and take flight. They must attract new students, or we will soon have a big problem on our hands. Even though most degree programmes already have the first batch of new students in with operations running, we are still in the middle of the implementation stage, calibrating various approaches and solving problems,” says Ulla Tuomarla.

Another matter falling under the purview of the vice-dean for academic affairs is the student admissions reform. Tuomarla considers it an interesting subject.

“In the future, it would be great to facilitate admissions to study the humanities while making the process less laborious also to us at the University without compromising on the abilities and motivations of prospective students.”

Jussi Pakkasvirta – Fundraising and communications

Professor of Area and Cultural Studies Jussi Pakkasvirta (@pakkasvirta) is the vice-dean responsible for public engagement and communications. Earlier, he held the same position at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Pakkasvirta has also serves as the Director of the Department of Cultures.

 “Our Faculty is the largest and most challenging in the University due to its heterogeneous nature and the manner in which it ‘covers the whole wide world’. We must find good common practices based on tradition without shying from reform, when necessary. In a large faculty, best practices should be distributed throughout the institution. In other words, the entire staff should be able to critically and openly question their activities in a collaborative and collegial manner,” says Jussi Pakkasvirta on his field of work.

Pakkasvirta will apply himself to problems of internal communications and fundraising.

 “Working on internal communications and its improvement is a demanding task. The extensive changes of recent years (the administration reform, layoffs, the Big Wheel, etc.) are still partly ‘in process’, causing plenty of uncertainty, questions and challenges. We must try to turn these into opportunities,” says Pakkasvirta.

 “As regards fundraising, opportunities are numerous, since our Faculty covers, after all, ‘the whole wide world and everything in it’. External funding should be sought, but its acquisition must not take up all available time, nor define Faculty operations. In science, quarterly thinking must be extended to last at least five years. Long-term basic research is one of the primary strengths of our Faculty, which is a good focus also for fundraising. I intend to launch a handful of large fundraising projects related to, for example, a comprehensive ‘cultural’ study of the forestry sector or the study of culture and language in social media,” explains the vice-dean.

Paavo Pylkkänen – Preconditions for research and dialogue

University Lecturer in Theoretical Philosophy Paavo Pylkkänen (@paavopylkkanen) is responsible for the research affairs of the Faculty. He also serves as the Director of the Department of Philosophy, History and Art Studies.

As a vice-dean, Paavo Pylkkänen wishes to establish preconditions for multidisciplinary research focused on our humanity as well as worldviews where the humanities play a central role of interpretation, advancement and guidance.

“In a quickly changing environment, we must clarify the profile of research in the humanities.  Scholars of humanities must be able to face the challenges posed by scientific and technological progress. We must take an active role instead of remaining on the sidelines. We must also look further: what is the role of the Faculty of Arts in 2035?,” asks Pylkkänen.

Paavo Pylkkänen also aims to promote cooperation between disciplines.

 “In a large university such as ours, the divide between different fields of science is problematic, making it difficult to conduct genuinely multidisciplinary research and teaching. Getting to the heart of things often requires, however, the integration of various perspectives. The humanities are in a key position when looking for connections between disciplines and authentic dialogue. My aim is to improve the situation by collaborating with other faculties and universities.”

A message to the Faculty of Arts community

 “Scholars of humanities have skills and knowledge that other fields need: we have the ability to understand humans as cultural beings. It is impossible to form and develop this understanding without studying history, languages and culture in their numerous manifestations. Together with other disciplines, we are looking for solutions to global challenges. Therefore, I would further develop education in the field of humanities in accordance with the spirit of the Big Wheel reform also on a smaller scope, as regards various skills, not forgetting the inherent value of humanistic edification. Collaboration with other institutions of higher education in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is indispensable,” says Dean Hanna Snellman.

The vice-deans encourage the staff and students of the Faculty of Arts to take pride in their expertise in the humanities.

 “Who were we, who are we, and who will we be? It is a privilege and joy to consider this, and it is also the core of all teaching and research conducted at our Faculty,” says Jussi Pakkasvirta.

Paavo Pylkkänen pitches in:

“The humanities are focused on the meaning of things, and such research may also benefit natural sciences, technology and social sciences.  The experience of meaningfulness is central to humans and essentially connected to the knowhow of scholars of the humanities.”

“We have top experts of various fields at every corner and a faculty full of young and talented people. And it’s not a bad thing at all that we have the opportunity to work in the centre of Helsinki in distinguished old buildings resonating with the dignified history of the University and the Faculty. Let’s be proud of our competence,” adds Ulla Tuomarla.

Jussi Pakkasvirta has tangible suggestions for promoting communality.

 “We need to organise joint events for the Faculty, departments, disciplines and degree programmes. Wine and cheese or beer and snacks work wonders, but I also intend to bring back the traditional tennis tournament at the City Centre Campus – and the Faculty of Arts will take the top spot!”