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Overview by the
Head of the Departmet

Campus

The new university law came into effect in the beginning of 2010. The law was advertised to change the Finnish universities more than any reform during the past hundred years. The universities were entering into a new era. The new universities got more freedom to make decisions but also more responsibility for their economy, resourcing, and quality. How has this historical reform affected the department?

Organisation

The matrix organization of the department, where research and teaching are entities, was realized already in the old university. The aim of the organization is to promote research and teaching together with the administrative and technical services supporting them and to clarify the management structure.

When the department of astronomy was merged to the department of physics in the beginning of 2010, the divisional structure of the Department was revised, with the addition of a new division. The main areas of research are arranged for four divisions, namely the divisions of materials physics, elementary particle physics, atmospheric sciences, and geophysics and astronomy. The fifth division, general division, is the division for teaching, administration, and technical services. There are altogether seven majors led by the responsible professors.

The position of the department head is now clearly stronger than in the old university. As the department head I strengthened the preparation of administrative matters by appointing several working groups: executive team, consisting of the head, vice head, and division heads, is directed to research, personnel, and economy matters; department teaching group, and teaching groups of majors are directed to curriculum, teaching, and supervision of students; student selection group is directed to development of student selection and recruitment; international student exchange group; researcher education group is directed to promote doctoral education and selection of students.

Economy

The new university law and the renewal of statutes have not directly affected research and teaching. The reform has however affected their prerequisites. The most essential changes were in the economy basics and administration. All the resources of the Department were budgeted. In the total financing of 24 million Euros, the complementary funding was more than a half and close to two thirds if the rent of the premises is not included.

The university brought into use large enterprise software called SAP. This was declared in the beginning of the year as “New winds in economy administration - SAP”. To start using SAP was a big leap because it replaced many different systems in the economy administration which had been long time in use. A time management software package SoleTM was obtained by the university from a Finnish service provider. Recording all the requested details of over 300 projects for about 300 persons proved very labor intensive. The administration of the projects in cooperation with the campus project services centre was also troublesome.

Personnel

The employees of the persons in the offices changed in the beginning of the year to contractual relationships. Also the personnel being previously in Academy offices, like Academy professors and researchers, entered into an employment contract with the Physics Department. The change has reduced administrative frills and we are more recruiting persons than filling positions.

The amount of personnel was about the same as in the previous year. Also the changes in the personnel were at the level of the previous year. Two new chairs were appointed: Edward Haeggström as a physics professor in electronics and Venkatachalam Chandrasekar as a FiDiPro professor in radar meteorology. Professor David Schultz resigned. The total number of professors was 30. Three university lecturers were appointed: Esko Keski-Vakkuri, Szabolcs Galambosi and Antti Lauri.

The Ministry of Education and Culture has stipulated the degree of internationalization universities should meet in the coming years. Concerning professors, our Department has already reached the target, as more than 20 percent of them are originally from abroad. If repatriated Finns are also counted in, the percentage is even higher. For gender equality, the number of female professors has been increasing over last years. Currently, we have four female professors. The Department endeavors to improve the situation by emphasizing the equality aspect in all practices.

The activities of research, teaching and administration accounted for a total of 294 person-years. Doctoral researchers, doctoral students and research assistants financed by external funding, formed the biggest group of the staff, altogether 181 person-years.

Research

In research the past year was productive. The number of refereed journal articles in high-level international journals was as high as in the previous year, about 300 publications. The high level of research is evidenced by several ways. One of the key indicators of high level research is external funding, which is based on the quality of research. The share of the Academy of Finland in the total of 14 million Euros complementary funding is 8 million Euros. Professor Hanna Vehkamäki received substantial funding from the European Research Council. Two projects in the atmospheric sciences were selected as Nordic center of excellence. Professor Markku Kulmala was appointed Academy professor. Our FiDiPro professor Douglas Worsnop was appointed to a new term of five years. Professor Kulmala got the Fuchs price. This international price is the highest one in the atmospheric sciences. Professor Paula Eerola was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

A big upgrading of the research infrastructure was the renovation of the 30 years old accelerator laboratory building. The new house techniques as well as new techniques of the research instruments will hopefully compensate the research time lost during over half a year long renovation period.

Education

The number of master exams 45 is lower than the long time average of 66 exams. The number of doctor exams 19 was also below the long time average of 25. The department was recognized by the CHE Excellence Ranking to belong to the excellence group in Europe. This was now for the second time. We are also the only Physics department in Finland in this class. The reform of teaching was started and that of curriculum continued. Teaching was strengthened by the appointment of three university lecturers. The development of teaching administration continued. The new national collective bargain for the new universities, which came into effect, gave clear boundary conditions to enhance teaching duties of the personnel.

Outreach

In outreach the most notable events were the new F2k Outreach Centrum and its F2k laboratory. The F2k Outreach Centrum combines all outreach activities under a new and visible concept.

Juhani Keinonen
Head of the Department