The Keys To Open the Rector’s Door

It seems like yesterday, not 5 years ago, that the TSU Academic Council elected me to the position of rector by a majority of votes. Time flies by, when you have a lot on your shoulders. During this period, many different events took place, including the decision of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation to reserve the right to approve the rectors of the leading universities. The Supervisory Board of the university recommends a candidate. The decision must be approved by the Governor of the region. Then the Attestation Committee of the Ministry of Education and Science considers the candidate for the position. The Presidential Envoy of the federal district must say his "yes" or "no". But that's not all. There are also a number of state organizations that, after certain checks, give conclusions, regarding the candidate for the post of the head of the university.

Thus, the appointment of the rector is a long process of coordination in a variety of organizations. It is a big “bunch of keys” that either open the door to the appointment or not. The main keys are in the hands of the Supervisory Board, the Governor, the Presidential Envoy, and the Ministry. Since 2014, this procedure has been applied to all universities - participants of the 5-100 Project.


For me, this process began back in May 2018, when our Supervisory Board discussed the results of the work of our university for the previous period and supported my candidacy. Then there was a discussion at the meeting of the Tomsk Rectors Board, then Sergey Zhvachkin, the Governor of the Tomsk Region, took his stance on the issue. Taking this opportunity, I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to all who were involved in making the decision!

Everything went as it was planned, the only thing that complicated the procedure was the reorganization of the Ministry of Education and Science and its division, in fact, into two Ministries. It is good that the Supervisory Board managed to have its say about the upcoming appointment of the rector in spring, while the Board itself was legitimate. Later it lost its legitimacy. It was due to the reorganization of the Ministry. Because of that many members of the Council changed their positions. By the way, the first meeting of the new Supervisory Board and the election of its Chairperson will be held on December 11 in Moscow.

Despite all these complications, on November 16, I was invited to the meeting of the Attestation Committee at the Ministry of Education and Science. Ludmila Ogorodova, Deputy Governor of the Tomsk Region for the scientific and educational complex, had to convey the position of the Governor, regarding the future rector of TSU, to the Committee. 3.jpg 

The Attestation Committee includes rectors of the leading Russian universities, members of the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Russian Federation, and heads of major employer organizations. Nine candidates for rector positions from several universities reported to the Committee. As it turned out, not all of them managed to successfully pass the certification and receive appointment recommendations as heads of the universities.

Let us get back to November 16. I was the first to go through the procedure. I had a short speech to address and some questions from the members of the Committee to answer. It took me a few minutes to speak about the main goals and the purpose of transformation of Tomsk State University. I outlined its philosophy, which had been discussed more than once in our team. It is based on the academic value ​​and the people. The engines of transformation are the ecosystem approach, carried out in collaboration with our partners, and the combination of three modes, which are Run, Change, and Disrupt, in the university management system.

After that, I had two questions from the Council. The first was from Victor Sadovnichiy, Rector of Moscow State University. He asked about our approaches to keeping talented students. It is no secret that the introduction of the Unified National Exam system caused a large outflow of the most intelligent and trained school graduates from regions. I explained how we deal with the problem.


First, TSU collaborates with schools in order to prepare new enrollees. To date, we have more than 200 partner schools, with which we provide a variety of assistance: methodological, design, consulting, organizational, event-based, etc. Second, long before an admission campaign starts, we begin introducing new technologies to motivate future applicants to enter our university. Third, we create competitive educational programs. For example, a joint double degree program with the London School of Economics. As a result, this year a school graduate with 300 credits did not go to the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, he decided to enter TSU, since we have such opportunities for him. Fourth, we provide special support for talented children. All these factors have influenced the number of applicants with high educational achievements. We used to have 50 to 70 of them, now we have about 500 of such kids.

The second question was from Yaroslav Kuzminov, Rector of the Higher School of Economics. He was interested in how we retain international professors, regardless our limited resources. After all, this is a big problem even for universities in big cities. Inviting only one group of excellent professors could cost a university not less than 10 million euros (like Maastricht, for example). For us, this is the budget of the entire program of development! I told about how TSU motivates visiting professors. We have unique natural objects and artificial installations and structures that may be of interest to international experts: Vasyuganskoye Swamp, the Aktru glaciers, and the research stations we have there to study those places.


Having come here, scientists can observe them literally from the “first row of the orchestra”. Many are attracted by the extreme environment. Another motivator is the opportunity to conduct joint research and receive serious grants. Finally, we have our sincere hospitality. We admire and appreciate our international partners and are ready to carry them on hands.

At that point, the “visible” part of the procedure was over for me. Then the secret ballot took place. Recently, we have received an extract from the recording of the meeting of the Attestation Committee that recommended me as the rector of Tomsk State University.

The next step is the approval of this recommendation by Sergey Menyaylo, Presidential Envoy of the Siberian Federal District.

At the end of December, the meeting of the TSU Academic Council will be held. Concluding the anniversary year, we are planning to talk about the prospects for the development of the university for the next 5 years. There is one more thing to mention: a session on updating the development strategy of the region took place in the beginning of December. The focus was on the implementation of national projects, including education, science, and national research centers. We used to focus on the history of TSU, now it is time to focus on the future of the country and the region in order to determine the place of our university in it.