Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, sent the following message to University staff and students today (18 June 2021):
"Dear students and colleagues,
Above all I feel gratitude to you all as we come to the end of this academic year and this unusual semester, concluding tomorrow with the graduation ceremony in Laugardalshöll. No fewer than 2,548 candidates will be graduating, which is a record in the 110 year history of the University of Iceland.
The dynamic group of people receiving their degree certificates tomorrow will no doubt make a profound impact on industry and society over the next years and decades, here in Iceland and beyond our borders. Among tomorrow's graduates will be the first students to complete the Master's programme in industrial biotechnology, which the University of Iceland offers in partnership with the pharmaceutical company Alvotech. The company has made their headquarters in the University's Science Park in the Vatnsmýri area and is now undergoing significant expansion. It is extremely gratifying to see this collaboration between industry and higher education bear fruit in the form of degrees in a new subject. Over 1,100 people are already working at the Science Park and we intend to systematically develop the site, ensuring that it continues to be a place for innovation and opportunity that attracts highly educated people.
Unfortunately, candidates will not be able to invite guests to the graduation ceremony tomorrow due to public health restrictions, but we will be offering a high quality live stream.
This week has been an eventful one at the University of Iceland. The University of Youth programme on campus went extremely well and on Monday we held a very successful annual forum.
Yesterday, on 17 June, Independence Day, we celebrated the University's 110th anniversary at an event attended by the President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and other distinguished guests. As part of this event, a letter of intent was signed by me, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Bjarni Benediktsson, and Minister of Transport and Local Government Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, who is also the acting Minister of Education, Science and Culture. This letter of intent describes our commitment to opening a exhibition next year in the Loftskeytastöð building next to Veröld, an exhibition dedicated to the presidency and work of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. Vigdís has always been a notable benefactor of the University of Iceland and is unique in having two honorary doctorates from the University. At the ceremony yesterday, Vigdís presented the University of Iceland with various fascinating artefacts from her presidency, which will be included in the exhibition.
Universities generally look to the future, to new knowledge and innovation, but we also look back as we remember our history. Those pioneers who founded the University of Iceland 110 years ago had a bold and progressive vision. From the outset, the University of Iceland has shaped the Icelandic nation and there are few other universities that have had such an enormous impact on their communities. Strengthening links between the University and Icelandic society is indeed one of the central themes of our new comprehensive strategy, which was formally presented at the annual forum last Monday under the title "Better University – Better Society".
Now the summer stretches out before us in all its glorious greenery. And we look ahead with optimism to the autumn, too, hoping that at long last we will be able to return to working and studying as normal. However, we are still assessing the impact of the water damage that occurred at the beginning of the year and unfortunately, it does not look like classrooms on the ground floor of Gimli and the University Centre will be usable by the time that teaching starts this autumn. We are looking for solutions to this loss of teaching space, which will be announced shortly.
Dear students and colleagues,
As our young candidates graduate and head out to make their mark on society and industry, the value of learning is clearer than ever. For knowledge is the currency of the future.
Enjoy the weekend and the summer ahead.
Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector"