Published: 02-11-2022 16:47 | Updated: 03-11-2022 13:40

She will be the new Academic Vice President for Higher Education

From course-level teaching to strategic educational work. Ewa Ehrenborg, professor of molecular cardiovascular medicine at The Department of Medicine, Solna (MedS) began teaching even before she graduated from the medical programme. Next year, she will take over as Academic Vice President of Higher Education at Karolinska Institutet.

Portrait of Ewa Ehrenborg outside in nature
Ewa Ehrenborg, new Academic Vice President of Higher Education. Photo: Privat

Ewa Ehrenborg, professor of molecular cardiovascular medicine at The Department of Medicine, Solna (MedS), will take over on 1 January 2023 as Chairperson of the Committee for Higher Education as well as Academic Vice President for Higher Education. She was appointed by the President of KI in early October based on the advisory election in which teachers and researchers with voting rights voted. 

“For me, this is huge. Getting that trust from my colleagues means a lot,” says Ewa Ehrenborg. 

The Committee for Higher Education is tasked with supporting the Faculty Board through preparation, quality monitoring and implementation in the field of education. In other words, the Academic Vice President for Higher Education shall lead the strategic work to develop and create the best possible conditions for education. 

“I believe that we can further develop what has already been started, and after having held several positions at KI, I think I can contribute. But always together with others. Alone is not particularly strong,” says Ewa Ehrenborg.

“We build the education together“

Ewa Ehrenborg studied the medical programme at KI during the 1980s and began to do research already during her studies. She defended her thesis in clinical genetics, and after a postdoc in Canada, she came back to KI and was made responsible for the course molecular medicine on the then newly started biomedicine programme. 

“It was a fantastic journey, to get involved just as the programme was being designed. You build it together, teachers and students. By far, that has been the most enjoyable work. It was so co-creational. The best ideas and fiercest debates were had with the students, and we often came up with good solutions that I think developed the programme enormously.”

She believes that the students’ participation and influence is central and important. Students see things that teachers and management may not. It is then important that students take part developing the education and coming up with solutions.

“As a student, you may not always understand what role you can play as a co-creator in the development of the education.”

Long commitment to education

Ewa Ehrenborg's educational commitment has ranged from course-level teaching to strategic assignments in committees, councils and boards, and she has received the KI Pedagogical Prize and an educational prize from students at the biomedicine programme. She was involved in and built up the Center for Clinical Education, and since 2018 she has worked on commission of the President with issues related to collaboration with Region Stockholm and work-integrated learning. 

“I think it's important to never lose your footing. If I can, I want to be active within the operations, listening in. However, I will probably not have the time or should be out, but I will gain insights and gather reports via others, and I believe in making visits here and there.”

Co-ownership and transparency 

As Academic Vice President for Higher Education, you work on behalf of all of KI, not for any specific department or programme. According to Ewa Ehrenborg, to be able to see the big picture, co-ownership and transparency are needed. 

“I believe in team building. Students, departments and administrators – we all belong to KI and contribute in different ways. Sometimes you work on a strategic level and sometimes you get involved in the details. We need to take advantage of each other's competences and skills.”

When it comes to the students' learning and study environment, she mentions the importance of raising the issues on several levels. 

“You have to find out what the situation is. Therefore, it becomes important that our student representatives at different levels pick up the discussion. You have to adopt that approach all the time. You must know what's going on and if there is a systematic approach being employed, then you can do something about it at my level,” Ewa Ehrenborg says. 

Develop collaboration 

Collaboration is something Ewa Ehrenborg wants to work for moving forward. Both collaboration between KI and the region but also when it comes to other sectors such as Life Science. 

“We need access to healthcare environments so that our students have the conditions to become competent and skilled employees, and then it is important that we have good collaboration.” 

Another issue that she is particularly passionate about is the connection between research and education. 

“We have to make sure that it is connected. Otherwise, we cannot take advantage of all the opportunities that you have when you have studied at KI. The students should be given the option to choose so that you do not get stuck in one track. We should provide a good foundation for a future professional life.” 

2022 a super-election year at KI 

2022 has been something of a super-election year at KI. Many academic elections have taken place, not least the election for President of KI and the elections to Academic Vice Presidents for the faculty board's committees. The current Academic Vice President for Higher Education Annika Östman Wernerson is proposed by the University Council to become KI's next President from 1 March 2023.

Academic Vice Presidents and the chairmen of the committees of the Faculty Boards were appointed by the President on 4 October. Ewa Ehrenborg will be the new Academic Vice President for Higher Education, Robert Harris will continue as Academic Vice President for Doctoral Education and Martin Bergö will continue as Academic Vice President for Research. 

The assignments of the new Academic Vice Presidents will start on 1 January 2023 and run until 31 December 2025.