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Imagine becoming Vice-Chancellor

It is autumn at the Royal Institute of Art, as the new students set foot in our institution for the first time. I know that feeling.

When asked if I could consider stepping in as Interim Vice-Chancellor during the autumn of 2020, I rushed to the website to inform myself. What I encountered there was somewhat disheartening. The website was dated and difficult to navigate. Now, a few months later, having landed here, I have been asked to introduce myself on our brand-new, fully functioning and attractive website.

This mirrors my impressions of the Royal Institute. I look out over a university with teachers, staff and students who are genuinely making the most of themselves and their institution, where much has been accomplished and even more is in the works—and that it is all swiftly moving along. In this brief time frame, many have shared in laying the foundations for something miraculous; but this has also exacted a price. The Vice-Chancellor was temporarily unable to complete her commission (she will, however, return this autumn to deal with strategic issues); and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor had to postpone his long-awaited paternity leave. I apologize for this, but at the same time feel no shame in saying that it has been gratifying. Imagine becoming Vice-Chancellor of such a dynamic and creative university as this.

Am I the right person for the job? I leave that to others to decide. However, my background has led the cadre that recruited me to believe so. I have namely been Head of the Swedish School of Library and Information Science, Prorector at the University of Borås, Rector at Halmstad University and Rector of the Swedish Defense University. For some reason, I have always been tasked to lead the work to support institutions of higher education in finding ways to restore order in their operations after periods of severe difficulty. Regarding the Royal Institute of Art, however, I believe that the problems it faces are nowhere near as serious as those I once had to deal with. I attribute this to all the beneficial work that has already been laid down. In addition, I lack all ambition to create the impression that I have something to offer when it comes to art. We have others here who are far better suited. I intend to stick to my official duties.

It is expected that I take over as Interim Vice-Chancellor from Fredrik Ehlin, after which I will hand over to Sara Arrhenius in four months’ time, when she returns. During this period, the board expects me to present a proposal for organizational adjustment based on the changes that Sara has launched, the adjustments which she and Fredrik began and their implementation, which gained momentum after the report on the working environment was presented. I will propose simple, proven solutions common to the academic world to safeguard a clear-cut core organization, in which teachers and students better know who makes what decision. This will systematically facilitate transparency, influence and feedback while creating given process paths for case management.

The intention is not that the design of the core organization should itself govern the content and development of the core operations. Instead, it is about offering students, representatives and management a stable framework that allows for substantive creativity and motivation on the terms set out by education, research and art.

One final note. While I am stepping in, there are others stepping out. I urge you, in no uncertain terms, not to miss the university’s graduation exhibitions at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm.

Romulo Enmark is Interim Vice-Chancellor of the Royal Institute of Art from 1 September 2020.