HSE Rector: In Order to Deal with All Our Tasks, We’ll Need Teamwork
Nikita Anisimov has held his first meeting of the Board of Tenured Professors as HSE University Rector. HSE Academic Supervisor Yaroslav Kuzminov also participated in the event. They told the board members that the university’s development priorities remain the same, while the professors expressed their commitment to helping the new administration. They also discussed the renewal of the board, by including representatives of different research fields and young scholars from all HSE campuses.
In keeping with recent tradition, the HSE Board of Tenured Professors took place in a mixed format: some of them gathered at Pokrovka, while others joined in by video conference. The meeting started with a moment of rememberance for those respected colleagues who had recently passed away and commemorating the contribution made to university development by Lev Lyubimov, Anatoly Vishnevsky, Vadim Podbelsky, Alexander Aleksakhin, as well as other researchers and teachers.
Meeting moderator Leonid Grebnev, Research Professor at the Faculty of Economic Sciences, proposed a vote on two issues. The first was to make Nikita Anisimov a member of the board, a position which he is entitled to due to his position. The second was the vote for board co-chair to replace the late Leb Lyubimov. Yaroslav Kuzminov proposed Distinguished Professor Fuad Aleskerov, Director of the International Centre of Decision Choice and Analysis, and he was elected almost unanimously.
After this successful vote on both issues, Leonid Grebnev announced that since the official agenda had been completed, any further discussion could be considered as an informal meeting. He focused on the fact that tenured professors are a resource that is independent, including from the rector. But he also added that the professors are always there to help.
‘HSE administration doesn’t consider you a reserve, but rather as combat officers: tenured professors are people who are always capable of helping and giving advice’, Nikita Anisimov responded.
He believes that the idea of starting a closer introduction to the university staff from a meeting with tenured professors belonged to Academic Supervisor Yaroslav Kuzminov. The rector is working in a ‘tandem’ with him.
As rector I can say that succession and dynamics for further development are among the most important issues today
Nikita Anisimov said that this is the only way to ensure ‘seamless’ movement in the right direction. ‘HSE University is an institution in which many take pride, which many feel jealous of, and which we are going to stand up for’, Rector promised.
He said that what happens at HSE University affects the whole educational system, and other universities are looking closely at it: ‘I was a rector in a Russian region until recently, and I can say that local universities take guidance from HSE’s methods, its academic reputation and its research’.
However, the university strategy for the next decade, which is now being discussed by the government, has not been signed yet, and ‘it needs serious support’. At the same time, an application is in process for the new federal programme ‘Priority 2030’, for an AI contest, and HSE University aims to take part in these projects. Nikita Anisimov also mentioned that recently the university expanded into a new complex area – natural sciences. And not long ago, a presidential strategic commission approved 42 projects with a total funding of over half a trillion roubles, including an engineering school support project. The rector emphasized that HSE University must be part of this field, too.
Teamwork is essential in order to deal with all these tasks. ‘I’m going to emphasize it once again: we are preserving succession, otherwise we are in danger of having a break in development, which might become critical’, he said.
The rector also mentioned issues of university competition, which is relevant not only within Russia: it is a ‘global race’ and ‘we are discussing the problems of social knowledge transfer at university’. It is essential to understand that university research is a subject of competition between technology companies, ‘which is already happening’.
Academic Supervisor Yaroslav Kuzminov said that when he was making the decision to leave his position as rector, the issue of his replacement was key. According to the Charter, the university rector is appointed by the founder, i.e. the Russian Government. ‘I believe that the government approached the issue of appointing the new rector with a lot of responsibility and a lot of love’, he said, ‘Because among all the considered candidates, Nikita Anisimov is the strongest and the most appropriate person in terms of his academic values’.
He said that Nikita Anisimov has unsurpassed academic and administrative experience and described him as an ‘independent person who is not afraid to stand his ground’. ‘Mr. Anisimov achieved a huge amount during his five-year administration at Far Eastern University (FEU)’, said Yaroslav Kuzminov and added that the conditions were complicated, including in terms of the quality of enrolment. ‘What is important for us is that Mr. Anisimov was in regular contact with HSE University, and we supported this process’. FEU and HSE University have a many joint projects: educational programmes, staff education, mirror laboratories and others. Both universities are members of the Global Universities Association, and Yaroslav Kuzminov believes that Nikita Anisimov has been one of the contact people who have always been open to dialogue ‘despite the time difference’.
Yaroslav Kuzminov mentioned that Nikita Anisimov has successfully become part of the HSE team while preserving the university’s administrative team. He also emphasized his moral qualities and intellectual capabilities, reminding the audience that the new HSE Rector was admitted to Moscow State University at the age of 15.
You have every reason to trust Nikita Anisimov in the same way you’ve trusted me
This is what Yaroslav Kuzminov told the tenured professors. He says he is working together with the new rector, but has ‘no desire to do administrative work’.
The Academic Supervisor finished his speech by mentioning the tenured professors’ excellent reputation and achievements and asking them to join the HSE Academic Council in considering whether different subjects and fields are properly represented on the Board. He believes, it makes sense to look for new members of the board in all university campuses, paying attention to younger teachers and researchers. He suggested considering this issue in autumn.
The professors supported the new rector and the academic supervisor. Many of them like the fact that Nikita Anisimov has a background in mathematics: he graduated from the MSU Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics and defended a Candidate of Science (Physics and Mathematics) thesis. Alexey Barabashev, Head of the Department of Public and Local Service, believes that the MSU traditions and the HSE University’s innovative style will complement each other. He also said that the Board of Tenured Professors is a strong intellectual and moral force. ‘All of us are willing to help, to use all our efforts in order to make the university better’, he emphasized.
Vice Rector Lilia Ovcharova believes that the fact that the new rector is a mathematician can open new opportunities for the university’s development. ‘It is the mother of all sciences: all of us use mathematical tools in our applied research. Today, we all deal with evidence-based policy in all fields, and it is impossible without mathematical tools’, she added.
Irina Abankina, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Education, Vadim Petrovskiy, Academic Supervisor of the Centre for Fundamental and Consulting Personology, and other members of the board also contributed to the discussion.