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Battling for the top job in Arctic academia

Kim Holmén, International Director of Norwegian Polar Institute is among the applicants. FOTO: Eirik Palm

Battling for the top job in Arctic academia

Twenty-one candidates have applied for the job as director of the world's northernmost university. Only four of them are women.

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Twenty-one people sent in applications by last week's deadline to apply for the director's job at The University Centre in Svalbard.

Decision around Easter

Berit Johanne Kjeldstad, chairwoman of the university's board of directors, said interviews will likely begin quickly..

"Preliminary talks will start very soon," she wrote in an e-mail to Svalbardposten. "We expect to have more final talks in late February to March."

She stated she is satisfied with the number of applicants.

"In such situations it is always nice to have as many as possible," she wrote. "We make many demands on the applicants and it's hard to find one that covers the most."

When is a hiring decision expected?

"Hopefully around Easter," Kjeldstad wrote.

The board therefore will conduct the hiring process as tightly as possible. Due to employer notice requirements, the decision will likely be made no later than March 31. That would mean the counter-notice period could begin on the first calendar day of the next month.

Few women

Broken down by gender, there are 17 men and four women seeking the director's job. Four applicants – three men and one woman – are confidential.

At least three of the applicants are local candidates from UNIS and the Svalbard Research Park. One is Kim Holmén, international director of the Norwegian Polar Institute. Other local applicants are Hanne Christiansen and Frank Nilsen, both of whom are department heads at UNIS. The latter has been named acting director as of Feb. 1 to replace Ole Arve Misund, who resigned to become director of the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research in Bergen.

The university's most recent directors have been Lasse Lønnum, Gunnar Sand and Misund. Kjeldstad, in her e-mail, noted the ratio of low ratio of women among the current applicants.

Why does she think so few women applied?

"I don't actually know," she wrote. "It is a pity that there are not more female applicants. Several of the academic fields at UNIS have a good recruitment of women, such as biology and geology."



Translated by Mark Sabbatini

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