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8:20 PM  December 30, 2019

Rector with scientist drive: Victor Dyomin about his tasks at TPU head

Тайлашева Елена Владимировна
© предоставлено пресс-службой ТПУRector with scientist drive: Victor Dyomin about his tasks at TPU head

TOMSK, Dec 30 – RIA Tomsk, Elena Taylasheva.The end of the year became for TPU a time of change - the university was headed by Victor Dyomin, the former vice-rector for educational activities of TSU. How he feels at TPU, what three main tasks he sets for the coming year and how he rests with the help of science, the acting rector of TPU Victor Dyomin said in an interview with RIA Tomsk.

To get out of the comfort zone

- Victor Valentinovich, you came to Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) from a competing university. Didn’t you fear that you would be welcomed as a Varangian, that is, they would not be very happy?

- No, I had no expectation that I would end up in an "enemy camp". I know many people at Polytechnic University, with everyone I’m directly contacting (vice-rectors, leading scientists), I have my own relationship history: I studied at Skolkovo with some, we did a project with others, I crossed paths with others at meetings ...

It is clear that when everything is debugged, tuned, it is not easy to leave the comfort zone and get involved in other processes and regulations. From the side of the team, of course, some tension is felt - what to expect from new people, what changes will happen and so on. And this is understandable and expected.

- How do you establish a dialogue with the team?

- Now we are meeting with school staff with the first vice-rector Andrey Yakovlev (since the fall of 2017 at TPU six engineering schools, School of Core Engineering Education, School of Engineering Entrepreneurship and two research schools have been created at TPU). We listen to questions, identify pain points (including using anonymous questioning).

On some issues we are ready to express our attitude and offer possible solutions, we accept some for further consideration. We will definitely make an integrating resume based on the results of these meetings.

© РИА Томск. Таисия Воронцова
“One of important tasks – is to establish mutually beneficial interaction between universities. Competition is necessary, but catch up and overtake at any cost - is a dead end in events interpreting. There is no need to pronouncedly distance - we must do business together”, - Victor Dyomin believes.

- What questions are most often asked?

- The main issues are related to the organization and structure of the educational process, for example, people are interested in the revival of the track of elite engineering education, the English-speaking competencies of students and teachers. On these and other issues related to educational activities a number of strategic sessions are planned for the beginning of next year.

The most common question regarding the structure of the university is related to the abolition of departments two years ago. There is no definite answer what to do in this situation.

We understand that the department - is the main structural unit of the university, it has its own purpose: the department is engaged in science, develop and discuss methodological issues, share best educational practices, communicate, preserve history, traditions, this is really a professional collective, or, as now many say, community.

Such communities have been built for decades, and it is clear that they have their own traditions, their own environment, which helps people grow professionally. On the other hand, the process that occurred at the university - is actually a process of enlarging the departments. We are now trying to understand where this is justified, and where, perhaps, we need to reverse the course.

- But is it possible?

- Why not? Not always an effective solution - is just moving forward. Sometimes it is both a stop and a small retreat. But first we will definitely discuss this with the teams. In fact, we are now looking for the opinions of our colleagues and doing it.

Recognition effect

- About the unification under the brand of the "Big University" you are also probably asked ...

- Of course they ask. But I always avoid the word “unification”, preferring to use the concepts of “interaction”, “collaboration”, “association”, because they more accurately characterize the process. With this approach each university will retain its identity, but a single Tomsk University will be positioned in the outside world. Alone we are at the limit of the attainable, some new quality can be obtained only by interacting.

- What model of interaction is exemplary for you?

- There is no exemplary model, especially since in our case it is most likely to be special, because there are no such examples in Russia yet. But to understand the approach, I usually cite the University of Cambridge as an example, which is a confederation of 31 colleges.

Each college has its own real estate, library, church with a compulsory choir and organ, and so on. The life and work of colleges is regulated by their own charters and rules, each college has its own representatives on the university council.

At the same time, students of any college can use the general divisions of the university, including the famous Cambridge University Library, Cambridge Observatory, Cavendish Laboratory. At the same time, competition and interaction - is a very useful construction, because competition also prevents you from standing still.

By the way, there are not so many students - less than 20 thousand. At the same time, there is another strong university in the city of Cambridge - Anglia Ruskin University, which is one of the 350 best universities of the world (international Times rankings of 2019). It is larger, 40 thousand students study in it. But at the mention of Cambridge, they usually recall the University of Cambridge, which is always at the first places in the rankings (for example, QS - 3, ARWU - 5).

Table of ranks

- At the post of rector you will be at least a year. What are your strategic goals?

- I see three main tasks.

The first - is the continuation of the movement towards the status of the university with engineering excellence. I always thought that Tomsk Polytechnic University should be one of the best engineering universities. Moreover, this is so in the country: TPU is always among the first in the rankings of engineering universities. We must ensure that it also looks high in the world table of ranks.

The second task - is to continue participating in the "5-100" program. It gives not just additional resources - it gives motivation for the restructuring of thinking. To achieve the desired indicators, the university is actively involved in internationalization, in international activities. So from the point of view of maintaining the level, this is very important. Moreover, the task of the polytechnic - is not just to enter the top thirty of the "5-100" participants, it is necessary to get into the top ten.

Finally, the third task - is the positioning of the polytechnic at the "Big University": how and where it will be involved in its large projects.

- Which directions do you consider promising in this sense?

- The Polytechnic has many unique competencies. This is not only a traditionally strong oil and gas industry or non-destructive testing, but also, for example, biotechnology, research in the field of climate change. Moreover, in these areas there is already a good interaction between universities in Tomsk.

I would also single out the direction of nuclear medicine: the production of medicines, special devices. According to it, we will try to initiate a separate program within the framework of integrated scientific and technical programs (ISTP), which replaced the federal target programs (FTP).

The diagnosis - is curiosity

- Being the vice-rector of TSU, you continued to be engaged in science, managed the laboratory (Laboratory for Radiophysical and Optical Methods of Environmental Research). Is there any time now left for this?

- For science earlier and now, only evening and night time remains. I continue to lead the research laboratory at TSU, and now we are completing a project on the competitive part of the state task. A year ago, we completed the previous FTP project by developing a line of underwater holographic sensors for plankton research.

They are used for various purposes, including environmental ones, when the behavioral response of plankton allows to do early prediction of dangerous situations, for example, near a nuclear power station or oil platform.

In addition, I supervise the work of a postgraduate student, and she recently won a grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research in our area related to optical holography of particles.

- Do you work "with your own hands" in the laboratory?

- There is no longer time for this, so my main task - is to participate in the planning of research, experiments and interpretation of the results. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to participate in expeditions - for three years my colleagues have been on expeditions to the Kara Sea, the Kola Bay, the Black Sea and Lake Baikal. The longest one - in the Kara Sea - lasted 40 days. Of course, I can’t get out of the university management process for so long ...

- You say "unfortunately". Missing the drive that science gives?

 - A scientist, researcher - is not a profession, but a condition. They jokingly say that this is a diagnosis. I always say that a scientist has only two motives - curiosity and self-realization. If a person has these two motives, he will be engaged in scientific research at the slightest opportunity.

Science keeps me in good shape. As well as lectures - I read, read and hope to continue to read them: next year I will try to take at least one course of lectures. You will not find another such contact with students: when you communicate with them informally, you discuss common issues, it is such a pleasure! It allows you to change the action, to be inspired to return to administrative work with renewed vigor.

Victor Dyomin - is Honored Worker of Higher Education of the Russian Federation, candidate of physical and mathematical sciences. By education he is an optical engineer, in 1980 he graduated from the Radiophysical Department of TSU. From 2001 to 2014 was his dean. In 2014, he was appointed vice-rector for educational activities at TSU; in November 2019 he became the acting rector of TPU.

The holder of 12 patents and copyright certificates, the author of about 180 publications, the head of the project to create a line of hardware and software systems for underwater holography of plankton and settling particles for monitoring the bioefficiency of water, ecosystem biodiversity, bioindication, a project to develop digital holographic techniques and equipment for non-destructive research crystals for photonics and other projects.

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