Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, sent the following message to University staff and students today (31 March 2021):
"Dear students and colleagues,
The University of Iceland has been working together with the nation to effect change for 110 years. During this time, we have endeavoured to offer a diverse range of high quality study programmes in order to enhance progress in all fields. We have focused on research and innovation that have revolutionised our quality of life and expanded our understanding of reality, our environment, biospheres, natural resources and society.
From the outset, the University of Iceland has been actively engaged in society and industry and our new comprehensive strategic plan continues to prioritise these important links with business and the Icelandic nation. The strategic planning process is well underway.
These past five years, we have worked under the motto "Successful University – Thriving Society" and we want to take this a step further with the new strategy, entitled "Better University – Better Society".
Throughout the strategic planning process, there has been a strong focus on dialogue and consultation with all stakeholders in order to guarantee that we all feel ownership of our new strategy: a roadmap and a pact we can all unite behind. I urge you all to familiarise yourself with the strategic planning process on the University website.
Yesterday, dear students and staff, you all received an email asking you to complete a survey about a few basic features of the new strategy. I encourage you to fill in the survey and make your voice heard.
It will not have escaped anyone's attention that the health authorities were recently forced to tighten restrictions in an attempt to stop the fourth wave of the pandemic in its tracks. As previously, these measures are based on scientific knowledge and careful assessment. The early success so far is promising, although it is too early to celebrate a victory. New measures for schools and universities were announced today and will enter into force immediately after the Easter holiday. A maximum of 50 people will be permitted in classrooms and study rooms and the 2 metre physical distancing rule continues to apply. Where it is not possible to uphold the 2 metre rule, facemasks must be worn. Staff will be permitted to move between infection control zones, but not students. We hope that final examinations will be able to largely take place as previously planned, but this will become clearer over the next few weeks.
Despite a mild winter here in the south, it is now that time of the year when our yearning for spring is strongest. Around this time, we often witness a fierce struggle between spring and winter and the weather forecast is changeable over the Easter weekend. We can expect mild winds and almost certainly some traditional Easter wintry weather and bitter frosts as well. But the golden plover has arrived, and there is no surer herald of summer than the first migratory birds, who perhaps have flown over the blue-white wilderness, as in the poem by Steinn Steinarr.
Dear students and colleagues, Let's enjoy the Easter holiday as best we can, whatever the weather. Remember that the brightness within ourselves is just as important as the brightness outside. Let's continue to look out for one another and take care of ourselves.
Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector"