New tasks and challenges - appointments of vice-rectors and heads of university units


‘A new term of office for the rectoral authorities of our university is before us. As announced in our programme of activities for this period, we have identified a number of key strategic goals. Implementing them will allow us to continue to develop as dynamically as we have so far, without, however, losing sight of the university's current needs,’ stressed Rector prof. Piotr Stepnowski as he handed over the nominations for the 2024-2028 term to the Vice-Rectors, Directors of university units, and Deans.


The ceremonial Rector-Dean's College began with the presentation of the Act of Appointment as Dean of the Inter-University Faculty of Biotechnology to dr hab. Ewelina Król, prof. UG, who will continue in this position. The handover was carried out by the Rectors of both universities - prof. Piotr Stepnowski and the Rector Elect of the Medical University of Gdańsk, prof. dr hab. Michał Markuszewski. The election in this unit could not take place until after the Rector of GUMed had been elected, i.e. April 24, this year. Welcoming the Rector-elect of the collaborating university, Rector prof. Piotr Stepnowski emphasised the hitherto very good cooperation and joint activities with scientists from UG and the rectoral authorities of our university conducted by prof. Michał Markuszewski, who was Vice-Rector for Science at GUMed in the past term.

The Rector also thanked two persons who were leaving their posts as Deans of the Faculty of Economics, dr hab. Monika Bąk, prof UG, and the Faculty of Management, prof. dr hab. Mirosław Szreder, for their activities in previous years. Both of them could not be present during the culmination ceremony of the 2020-24 dean's term of office, which took place in the Library of the University of Gdańsk on April 11, 2024 (report).


Moving on to the next part of the ceremony of thanks and nominations, the Rector, prof. Piotr Stepnowski, outlined the new goals and challenges facing the units of our university, starting with one of the most important entities commercialising our research activities, the University of Gdańsk's special purpose vehicle Univentum Labs.

‘We have set a very ambitious plan for the company for this term. The establishment of new business entities with our commercial partners, participation in an entrepreneurship support foundation and the launch of a University Student Cooperative are just some of its elements. I am all the more pleased that our proposal to take on the position of President of the company in the forthcoming term was accepted by prof. Sylwia Mrozowska,’ said the Rector, also thanking dr hab. Sylwia Mrozowska, prof. UG, for her work in the past term as Vice-Rector for Cooperation and Development of the University of Gdańsk. Before assuming this function, prof. Sylwia Mrozowska had created and managed the Centre for Sustainable Development of the UG, as recalled by prof. Piotr Stepnowski, who expressed his conviction that she would be equally adept at fulfilling the new tasks facing Univentum, whose current President - dr hab. Wojciech Bizon, prof. UG - was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Economics.


The Rector informed about another change in the management structure of the UG unit - the Centre for Foreign Languages - emphasising the high competencies and skills of the hitherto long-standing Director of the CJO, Ms Alina Swebocka, who in the next term will perform the function of Plenipotentiary for Language Policy at the University of Gdańsk: ‘The tasks of the Plenipotentiary will include, among other things, building the formal and organisational framework of the UG language policy and coordinating it with the language policy of SEA-EU universities or creating a comprehensive offer of commercial language education. This is a very ambitious field of activity that requires professional training, experience and a good knowledge of the University,’ the Rector added.

The position of Director of the CJO in the new term will be taken over by the current Vice-Director, Ms Emilia Krzywańska-Frankowska, who, as prof. Piotr Stepnowski emphasised, is a person of immense commitment and great experience in language teaching. 


There will also be a change at the Centre for Physical Education and Sport, as the long-standing Director of the unit, dr Jan Patok, is retiring. As a token of his appreciation for his dedicated work on behalf of the development of academic sport at the UG, the Rector officially presented him with the silver medal Bene merito et merenti of the University of Gdańsk.

Dr Jan Patok will be replaced by mgr Tomasz Aftański, who until now has been acting as Vice-Director, whom the academic community has come to know, as the Rector emphasised, as ‘a volcano of energy, a sportsman, an excellent organiser and an active member of academic sport in the best sense of the word’.

‘Given the process of construction of sports facilities which is about to commence, we should expect even more spectacular achievements from our athletes,’ added prof. Piotr Stepnowski.

Investment matters, as well as the issue of the university's administrative management, also in terms of the development of HR policy, were addressed by the Rector when he announced that the position of Chancellor of the University of Gdańsk had been entrusted to dr. hab. inż. Aneta Oniszczuk-Jastrząbek, prof. UG, who has so far held the position of Vice-Chancellor and has been acting as Chancellor for several months: ‘In this area, too, we need an experienced and committed leader, a leader who will manage these strategic processes in cooperation with the Rector's team. The last few months of working with you as Acting Chancellor have been excellent in terms of mutual communication, decision-making agility and constructive agreement on positions. I believe that our cooperation will continue in this spirit,’ the Rector expressed his hopes.

New responsibilities and challenges in the coming term were posed by the Rector, prof. Piotr Stepnowski, to his deputies: ‘In the coming term, I have decided to change quite significantly the scopes of responsibilities and the division of the areas of the university's activities supervised by individual Vice-Rectors. Above all, I have decided to divide educational and student affairs between the two Vice-Rectors,’ said the Rector. ‘The enormity of the challenges facing the university due to the changing social and economic environment, new educational technologies, new educational formats, accreditation and issues of the quality of teaching activities require a complete separation of this area, which will be supervised by the Vice-Rector for Education.’

This function in the coming term will be held by dr Ewa Szymczak, prof. UG (WOiG), who has hitherto served as Director of the Centre for Didactic Improvement and Tutoring at the University of Gdańsk.


Dr Ewa Szymczak, prof. UG
Dr Ewa Szymczak, prof. UG:
Being entrusted with the function of the Vice-Rector for Education is a great honour for me, but also a challenge underpinned by the changing reality, dynamic social, technological, and economic transformations affecting the educational process. A strong emphasis in the coming term will certainly be the implementation of micro-qualifications and the realisation of the concept of lifelong learning. We should use the growing role of technology, especially artificial intelligence and online learning, to develop our educational offer or to adapt it to current requirements, including those related to the development of new competencies. It is crucial to continue existing activities related to the individualisation of the educational process, the launch of joint study programmes, or support for the didactic development of academic staff.


The new Vice-Rector will also be the current Dean of the Faculty of Languages, dr hab. Urszula Patocka-Sigłowy, prof. UG, who will take over student affairs: 'Student and doctoral affairs - recruitment and appeal processes, living and social issues, self-governance and the cultural movement, academic sport - are all issues that are becoming increasingly involved, involving dozens of processes and procedures, while at the same time being a multidimensional area and requiring considerable negotiating and sometimes mediation skills,' said the Rector, introducing the new Vice-Rector.

Dr hab. Urszula Patocka-Sigłowy, prof. UG

Dr hab. Urszula Patocka-Sigłowy, prof. UG:

The position of Vice-Rector for Student Affairs is an honour and a great challenge for me. For many years, I have had the opportunity to work with students and doctoral students as deputy director and director of an institute, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Languages for Student Affairs, and Dean of this Faculty. So I have had a lot of opportunities to get to know their needs. I want the University to give students and doctoral students the opportunity for comprehensive scientific, sporting, and artistic development. This is to be achieved, among other things, by continuing to support the activities of scientific circles and student organisations. The University should enable students and doctoral students to acquire competencies needed in the rapidly changing labour market, motivate them to seek ambitious development paths, and awaken social sensitivity by fostering an attitude of creativity and empathy. Further modernisation of the university's facilities is needed - taking care of student residences, creating places for rest and relaxation in teaching buildings, and developing green areas. The Academic Budget of course helps with this. It is important for me to have a dialogue and be open to the needs, expectations, and proposals of students and doctoral students. I hope that through discussions and an ongoing exchange of opinions, it will be possible to identify the most important issues, define priority problems and solve them. I want young people to willingly choose the University of Gdańsk, I want graduates to come back to us, cooperate with us, and be our ambassadors.

At this point, the Rector thanked dr hab. Arnold Kłonczyński, prof. UG, who is finishing another term as Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Education Quality: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the moment when I would like to warmly thank Professor Arnold Kłonczyński for his immense commitment and professionalism in the activities undertaken in this position. Always with elegance, kindness and understanding. It will probably forever remain a mystery how Professor Kłonczyński was able to combine these two areas of activity - and still do so with a smile and a readiness to take on further challenges. Arnold, thank you for everything,' said Professor Piotr Stepnowski, and those gathered in the hall stood up and thanked the Vice-Rector with thunderous applause.

The Rector expressed his hope that this was not the end of his cooperation with prof. Arnold Kłonczyński: ‘Let me reassure you, we are not parting ways with Professor. We are strongly urging him to take up another important challenge at the University and we hope to be effective in this urging.’ 

The Rector then announced that there would also be a new position among the Vice-Rectors - the Vice-Rector for Development and Finance: 'His remit will include matters relating to the implementation of the adopted and initiating new directions of the University's development, support to the Rector in terms of analytics and financial management, budget planning and raising external revenue, including coordination of the commercialisation process,' said prof. Piotr Stepnowski. ‘I decided that, with such an ambitious action plan for the coming years, I needed support precisely in these sensitive areas to be able to safely and prudently implement all the assumed projects.’

The function of Vice-Rector for Development and Finance in the coming term will be assumed by dr hab. Paweł Antonowicz, prof. UG.

Dr hab. Paweł Antonowicz, prof. UG
Dr hab. Paweł Antonowicz, prof. UG: 
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for trusting me and entrusting me with a function that definitely fits in with my professional and scientific passions. I am delighted that I will have the opportunity to work directly with Rector Professor Piotr Stepnowski and the Rector's team appointed by him. It is a real honour for me and - I make no secret of it - also a great challenge. It is all the more satisfying as the tasks I have been entrusted with largely concern activities of a strategic nature at our University, both in the area of development and UG finances. We have the closure of the current and the creation of a new UG Development Strategy in front of us. This is a complex challenge, but I also have a feeling, justified by the experience of the past years, that as an academic community, we have recently entered another level of organisational and process maturity. This by no means implies any halt in our development. On the contrary, the actions of the Rector's team to date have shown that it is possible to manage such a structurally and territorially complex organisation as the University of Gdańsk perfectly well and to do so in an extremely progressive and professional manner. That is why I warmly count on the cooperation and sincere dialogue and declare that while performing the functions of Vice-Rector entrusted to me, I will not only be oriented towards the sustainable development of our University but will, above all, bear in mind our diversity, in which I see the possible synergistic effects.


The mission of developing our University, but in the broadened areas of previous activities, will be carried out in the next term by the Vice-Rector for Cooperation and Internationalisation, dr hab. Anna Jurkowska-Zeidler, prof. UG, and the Vice-Rector for Research, prof. Wiesław Laskowski. The Rector, thanking them for their work so far, outlined the tasks they will carry out in the next term: 'In the past term, as part of the university's internationalisation process, we have managed to build some excellent cooperation formats at various levels. Now we would like to strengthen them and make them horizontally permeate all areas of the university's core activity,’ said prof. Piotr Stepnowski, and referring to the tasks related to the area of science, he added: 'There have also been changes in the competencies of the vice-chancellor in charge of research, primarily in terms of overseeing all types of projects carried out at the University at every stage - the preparation, acquisition, and settlement of research funding, as well as research and development work. An important part of the Vice-Rectors's remit will, of course, remain the support of researchers in terms of internal funding systems or preparing the University for the forthcoming evaluation.’


Concluding the ceremony, the Rector emphasised that the University of Gdańsk has entered a very dynamic phase of development: 'Our boat has developed a speed of a dozen knots,' he said, referring to the marine nature of the University of Gdańsk. ‘I would like us to increase this speed safely but significantly in the next term.’


Photo by Alan Stocki/ UG
mgr Magdalena Nieczuja-Goniszewska, UG Spokesperson; photo by Alan Stocki/Press Team