LEADERSHIP ASSIGNMENT. After almost 10 years in Malmö, Ann Wennerberg returned to Gothenburg some time ago. She has now been appointed as assistant dean for internationalization and collaboration.
“I thought it sounded like an exciting job and something new for me to get involved in. I’m at the end of my career, and I’m pleased to work for the Academy and get a more general picture of issues that are important to the faculty,” Ann says in response to my question about what appealed to her about becoming assistant dean for internationalization and collaboration.
Internationalization is well-established at Sahlgrenska Academy. There is well-functioning organization here, where the Council for Internationalization works with strategic partnerships and generates support for internationalization efforts in other parts of the faculty organization, among other things. The Faculty Office also includes the Sahlgrenska Academy International Office (SAIO), where the international coordinators are experts at offering undergraduates, doctoral students and teachers support on practical issues in connection with stays at partner universities.
“I can confirm that SAIO has enthusiastic colleagues with a strong desire to do a good job,” Ann says, with a smile. She continues:
“It is truly inspiring to work with them, and they have welcomed me with great kindness and helpfulness.”
Working strategically with internationalization
For the faculty’s internationalization efforts, the Council is updating an action plan that specifies activities to be implemented in the near future. In the longer term, the Council for Internationalization is reviewing the partnership agreements we have with various universities to ensure that they are of high quality and identifying other higher education institutions we might be interested in developing partnerships with.
“It’s important to ensure that the agreements are up-to-date and that the exchanges are of high quality, and that is why we need a strategy for the countries on which we want to focus and what we want to get out of our international partnerships,” says Ann.
Sahlgrenska Academy has about a hundred different international exchange agreements, with many agreements having been created at our departments. The exchange agreements have a large scope.
“We have partnerships with several prestigious universities, where the exchanges give us the opportunity to become acquainted with their techniques and working methods, and we also have partnerships with countries in Africa and Asia, for example, that give us a nuanced outlook on the world and where an important objective is also to support the development of research and higher education in the country.”
Increased focus on collaboration
“Internationalization deals to a large extent with collaboration, but collaboration is much broader than that, and something that is happening on so many different levels.”
Consequently, Sahlgrenska Academy has expanded the assistant dean’s portfolio to also include collaboration. The first step will be to get a picture of what our collaboration looks like today and suggest how efforts should be focused and organized in the future. The Council for Internationalization does not include collaboration.
“We need to define more precisely what we mean by collaboration and what my role as assistant dean for collaboration should be. An important partner, of course, is Region Västra Götaland, where we have well-functioning bodies for collaboration in the form of Medi-sam and Odont-sam. But of course collaboration is also under way in education, the private sector and the surrounding society.”
Biomaterials that the body takes care of itself
Ann Wennerberg received her doctorate at the Department of Biomaterials in 1996, and since then she has always collaborated with Chalmers University of Technology:
“To be able to examine what characterizes different surfaces, I need technical collaborations with engineers. In my early dissertation work, I had the benefit of good contacts with SKF, which is top-notch on surface sciences.”
Today she is a successful head of research who has also brought in several large research grants. Her research concerns implants and tissue anchoring. In collaboration with research colleagues both at Chalmers and in Germany, she runs a large project on resorbable materials, which has received multi-million funding by the Swedish Research Council. The goal is to develop biomaterials that the body itself gets rid of when the implant is no longer needed so that patients need not be subjected to yet another surgery when screws and other parts are to be removed.
Ten years ago she received an offer she could not refuse from Malmö University, where she became a professor in 2008. During all those years, she commuted weekly to Skåne because she never moved away from Gothenburg. Since September last year, she has been back in the Odontology Building again as professor of prosthodontics.
TEXT AND PHOTO: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN
Footnote: In his swan song the previous assistant dean, Gunnar Tobin, presented a historical retrospective on the development of internationalization at the Academy in Akademiliv (http://www.akademiliv.se/en/2018/06/50261/).