På Høyden is this week publishing a story from Universitetsavisa on the «problematic» recruitment of faculty at the universities. At UiB almost 60% of professors and associate professors have their degree from UiB. This is slightly lower than UiO, and slightly higher than NTNU and UiT. Are these problematic numbers? The discussion is on-going in both Norway and Sweden. Nobel Laureate Edvard Moser suggested something similar in his lecture at the BFS arrangement in the Aula in December. Here he said that inbreeding is the worst enemy of the universities. Does he mean that we should introduce a ban on hiring candidates from own institution? Should talents developed in our own research groups be excluded from positions at our own institutions? Isn’t it scientific quality and aptitude that should define who should be ranked first, not the address on the diploma?
It is clearly doubtful if the percentage of externally recruited can be a measure of quality. Other factors such as the scientific weight of own education programmes, the attractiveness of the host city, and the institution’s ability to be attractive as a working place are also playing a role. It is hardly a good sign if none of our own candidates want to apply for positions at UiB or BIO!
BIO is at about the national level, or slightly above. Our last recruitment happened at the Faculty Board meeting on February 4. Here we were given the opportunity to hire both Anne Elisabeth Bjune and Alistair Seddon as associate professors in paleoecology. Anne is our own, with her doctoral degree from BIO, while Alistair has his degree from Oxford. Hence we have a 50% own recruitment in this round. But I can ensure everyone that this has been a thorough and fair process. A warm welcome to both of them!
Alistair is also sailing in as a strong candidate for the Article of the Year award at the next Christmas party, with first authorship on a Nature article this week. His study on climate sensitivity has already been noted in the press around the world. Congratulations on that one, too, Alistair, Kathy Willis, and coauthors!
We mentioned the students from Katten who participated in the second round of the Biology Olympiad a couple of weeks ago. This week it became clear that the two students who visited BIO, MBI and Skolelaboratoriet to be coached ahead of the exam, passed the test with flying colours. Congratulations to Marie Hauge and Kristin Skåtun Hannestad who both are ready for the national final in Oslo in April! We have to see what we can do to help them prepare for this one, too!