President Ilkka Niemelä´s summer letter 2017

I am very excited about my new position. Our personnel are doing excellent work, and the University has advanced rapidly towards becoming one of the top universities in the world.

Dear members of the Aalto community,

First, a warm thank you for the many congratulations I have received on my appointment as the next President of Aalto University. I have been actively involved in the development of Aalto University in various roles since 2011 as Dean, Vice President, and Provost. I am extremely proud of the work and achievements of the Aalto community and feel honoured and privileged to have a chance to lead it as the President of the University.

I am very excited about my new position. Aalto University has an important national mission, our personnel are doing excellent work, and the University has advanced rapidly towards becoming one of the top universities in the world. However, international competition keeps tightening and the operating environment changing at an increasing pace. The President of Aalto University has a great responsibility for steering the University and securing the preconditions for its long-term success in such a dynamic environment. Faced with this challenge, I feel humble but encouraged, because the Aalto community has a wide range of unique competences and excellent possibilities to succeed.

People, both the personnel and students, are the key drivers of Aalto’s success, as excellent results are possible only through the passionate work of talented people. Although we have succeeded well in recruitment, keeping up with the ever-fiercer international competition requires attracting and retaining talented personnel and students in the future, too, by offering them a competitive and rewarding environment to work and to learn.

Aalto’s key competitive edge is its unique combination of disciplines.  This makes our main campus in Otaniemi a very attractive concentration of competences, further strengthened by the wide-ranging and intensive collaboration that Aalto has with industry, businesses, and society. Otaniemi is also one of the world’s rising stars among university-based startup ecosystems, thanks to the initiative and drive of our students.

Indeed, Aalto has already grown into an internationally well-known modern university that is increasingly capable of tackling national and global challenges, while helping Finnish industry and society to develop in ways that foster wellbeing and competitiveness.

After the announcement of my appointment last Wednesday, I had the chance to meet the new Chair of the Professors’ Council Professor Katja Hölttä-Otto and the Chair of the Student Union Joona Orpana and discuss some current issues of the Aalto community. In the future, universities are expected to be increasingly involved in solving major societal and global challenges. I believe that the Aalto community is ready to tackle this challenge using its strengths: new knowledge, solutions, and game changers for society through excellence, multidisciplinarity, and entrepreneurship.

I invite the whole Aalto community to talk more about developing our University over a cup of coffee August 23 at 14.00 (Aalto Hall, Otakaari 1). A more detailed invitation will be sent in the near future.  

I wish you all relaxing and refreshing summer holidays!

Looking forward to meeting you in August,

Best wishes,


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