New deans appointed at the University of Helsinki – For the world

The faculty councils of the University of Helsinki have appointed new deans for the upcoming four-year term, which begins on 1 January 2022. While most of the appointees are already serving as deans and will continue for another term, there are three new names among the group.

The beginning of the new deanship term coincides with the implementation of the University’s recently completed strategic plan, as well as a new composition for the University’s leadership.Rector Jari Niemelä of the University of Helsinki considers the role of deans central to the implementation of the strategic plan.

“The deanship appointments provide our University with a strong team with which to build our evolving operations in accordance with our values and strategic choices. Leadership, engendering inclusivity and managing the future characterise these positions,” Niemelä says. 

At the University of Helsinki, management and leadership provide the conditions necessary for high-quality research, teaching and studying as well as for their impact, in other words, for public engagement. Niemelä has long been following the development of management and leadership culture.

“It is significant to engage leaders at the University who understand the demands and challenges of increasingly diverse work for the occupational wellbeing of the entire University community, a factor whose prominence has grown in the pandemic.”

The focus of the upcoming term stems from the University’s strategic plan. The University of Helsinki aims to be among the best in the world, both on national and international levels, on the basis of in-depth discipline-specific expertise, interdisciplinary research and top-level teaching. In fact, reconciling these goals with activities specific to individual disciplines will be key to the deans’ work.

Interaction and anticipation central to management and leadership

According to Tiia Tuomi, director of human resources at the University of Helsinki, the appointment process proceeded very well also in the current period of online communication. Faculty councils, appointment committees and the University community as a whole were committed to the recruitment process, for example, through hearings. In addition to the management of teaching, research and public engagement, which are the core operations of faculties, particular attention was paid in the process to general skills in management and leadership at the University, including the management of objectives, self-management and the management of cooperation. Tuomi says that interactivity and collegiality are closely linked to the ability to manage the future.

“The ability to identify and anticipate changes in the national and international operating environment as well as to utilise such knowledge in strategic management and leadership is essential. It is important to carry out such exploration together with the community and stakeholders, ensuring that the management of the faculty and the University as a whole are interlinked,” Tuomi notes. 

Furthermore, investments are made right from the start in the orientation of academic leaders.

“Due to the responsibilities associated with the position, we wish, as a University, to pay particular attention to the continual development of leadership and related orientation processes,” says Tuomi. 

Deans hold an important role in the academic leadership of the University. Besides leading their faculties, deans are part of University leadership, consequently contributing to the development of the entire University. Among other duties, deans also manage the strategic planning and operations of their faculties, and they are accountable for their performance. In addition, deans are responsible for faculty finances and resources. In the beginning of the new term, the deans will appoint vice-deans and department directors. The next deanship term runs from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2025. 


Deans appointed by faculty councils: 


Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

Ritva Toivonen (continues in the position) 
Docent Ritva Toivonen, DSc (Agriculture and Forestry), has served as the dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry since 2018.

Faculty of Arts

Pirjo Hiidenmaa (continues in the position)
Pirjo Hiidenmaa, PhD, is a professor of non-fiction studies and has served as the dean of the Faculty of Arts since 2018.

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Jaakko Kangasjärvi (continues in the position)
Jaakko Kangasjärvi, PhD, has served as the dean of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences since 2018. Kangasjärvi is a professor of plant biology (as of 2003). 

Faculty of Educational Sciences

Johanna Mäkelä (continues in the position) 
Johanna Mäkelä, DSocSci, has worked as professor of food culture at the Faculty of Educational Sciences since 2012 and as its dean as of 1 January 2018.

Faculty of Law

Johanna Niemi (new appointee)
Johanna Niemi, LLD, is a professor of procedural law at the University of Turku (as of 2014). Niemi served as the vice-dean for academic affairs at the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki from 2010 to 2013.         

Faculty of Medicine

Anne Remes (new appointee) 
Anne Remes, MD, is the dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Oulu. Remes has worked as a professor of neurology at the University of Eastern Finland from 2012 to 2016 and at the University of Oulu since 2017.

Faculty of Pharmacy

Jouni Hirvonen (continues in the position) 
Jouni Hirvonen, DSc (Pharmacy), has served as the dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy since 2010. Hirvonen is a professor of pharmaceutical technology (as of 1998).

Faculty of Science

Kai Nordlund (continues in the position) 
Kai Nordlund, PhD, has served as the dean of the Faculty of Science since 2018 and a professor of computational materials physics since 2003.

Faculty of Theology

Antti Räsänen (continues in the position) 
Antti Räsänen, DTh, is a professor of pedagogy of religion and has served as the dean of the Faculty of Theology as of 1 January 2018.

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Olli Peltoniemi (new appointee) 
Olli Peltoniemi, DVM, has served as the vice-dean for research affairs at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and a professor of domestic animal reproduction since 2010.


Read also the previous news The University is seeking 10 new deans – This is how academic leadership has evolved

    Dean recruitment process

    The call for applications opened on 14 March 2021. 

    The call for applications ended on 11 April 2021.

    The assessment period that began after the application deadline included applicant interviews, public hearings organised at faculties and leadership assessments.

    The faculty councils decided on the appointments in the summer and autumn of 2021.

    The appointees begin their work on 1 January 2022.