Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, sent the following message to University staff and students today (8 October 2021):
"Dear students and colleagues,
The University of Iceland aims to ensure the quality of teaching and learning and to pave the way for knowledge creation to flourish on the basis of ambitious research. This means harnessing and developing the strengths of students and staff, not just within the University but also as part of open collaboration with industry and society on a broad basis.
Universities are generally judged on their performance in terms of impact on the international academic community, quality of teaching, and international partnerships. For an entire decade, the University of Iceland has been included in rankings of the world's top universities, assessed on the basis of these criteria. This week we received news of yet another recognition of the University's strong position in the international scientific community. UI is ranked 201-250 in a list of the world's best universities for engineering and technology, according to the subject rankings from Times Higher Education. This is the fifth subject ranking this autumn that identifies the University of Iceland as an outstanding institution. The strength of our position is further confirmed by the comparable lists from the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy published this summer. These two ranking systems are recognised as the most influential in the world and the University of Iceland is the only Icelandic university to be included by both.
We would not be where we are now without our history. That is why it was so gratifying to see the University Council meet yesterday in the Icelandic Parliament building to celebrate 110 years since teaching started at the University on 2 October 1911, in that very same building. The University was founded on the centenary of the birth of Jón Sigurðsson, leader of the Icelandic independence movement, and was housed in the Parliament building on Austurvöllur for 29 years until operations were relocated to the new Main Building in 1940. In its 110 years, the University of Iceland has graduated over 50,000 students who have built the foundations of Icelandic society, to the benefit of us all. There can be few universities that have had a greater impact on their own communities.
To enable the University to cultivate its role as a good place to work, we are prioritising development of the campus as a positive environment, prioritising equal access, cohesion, and a sustainable community. We will soon be presenting a new vision for the entire campus, which will be under continual development to meet the needs of everyone who visits the University on a daily basis. Those of us who have been on campus recently have seen, for example, new buildings erected on the corner of Hringbraut and Sæmundargata. These buildings fit in well with the style of the existing architecture and will provide student accommodation with easy access to services and the University within walking distance. We would like to congratulate students and Icelandic Student Services on the wonderful new student housing.
It can hardly be stated too often that one of the roles of the new Strategy for the University of Iceland is to respond to significant challenges related to the climate and societal changes, not least in the Arctic region. Next week, UI will be taking part in the annual Arctic Circle Assembly, which is one of the most important platforms for international cooperation on the future of the Arctic region and our entire planet. Universities have a vital role to play in identifying solutions to the challenges of our time. They are sources of knowledge that provide an understanding of the complex issues that are most significant for humanity, the environment and the biosphere. UI's contribution to Arctic Circle is therefore highly relevant and based on a diverse range of ambitious research, including interdisciplinary research in the fields of environmental science, natural resources and climate science.
Dear students and colleagues, It has been wonderful to see the campus so busy this week and you have all played your part to make this happen. The same is true of your resilience in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Although the situation has improved, we must never lose sight of the importance of infection control.
Let's enjoy the weekend as best we can, as we continue to follow the advice of the public health authorities. We must not risk losing all the progress we have made.
Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector"