It has been a calendar year that will long be remembered by everyone. 2020 at the University of Warsaw saw, e.g. different rules for university operations during a COVID-19 pandemic, change of the UW authorities, ground-breaking research projects, national and international successes of UW employees and students. We present selected facts of the last year.
From protective masks to social distancing to online teaching and learning, the most relentless global health emergency of the last century will undoubtedly dominate memories for most community members of the University of Warsaw.
UW in the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the functioning of the University of Warsaw. In March, UW switched to remote mode regarding teaching and learning, except classes and duties that had to take place on-site. The exam period in the summer and the 2020/2021 admissions had to be postponed. Thanks to new technologies, live-streaming it was possible to follow and participate in various events, including, the Online Open Day.
The new coronavirus affected a lot of people. The University of Warsaw developed new forms of support for its community members. For several months, employees and doctoral candidates have had the opportunity to undergo free of charge tests for SARS-CoV-2. Another round of testing is currently underway, starting on 4th January until 26th February 2021. From the very beginning, UW students, doctoral candidates and employees were offered free online psychological support provided by the UW Psychological Counselling Centre.
The UW academic community also supports others in the fight against the pandemic. During the first coronavirus wave, volunteers from the Faculty of Physics produced more than ten thousand face shields 3D printed and donated them to medical institutions from all over Poland. UW researchers are steadily involved in carrying out scientific projects that help understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various aspects of life (e.g. biological, sociological, psychological, and economic).
Elections at UW
2020 was an election year at the University of Warsaw. From March to June, the UW Electoral College members have selected the new university authorities and the Senate members. Three candidates run for the rector position: Prof. Alojzy Z. Nowak, Prof. Paweł Strzelecki and Prof. Andrzej Tarlecki. On 17th June, the UW Electoral College elected Prof. Alojzy Z. Nowak who became the 45th Rector of the University of Warsaw. On 1st September, he took office together with four Vice-Rectors: Prof. Sambor Grucza (Vice-Rector for Cooperation and Human Resources), Prof. Ewa Krogulec (Vice-Rector for Development), Prof. Zygmunt Lalak (Vice-Rector for Research) and Prof. Sławomir Żółtek (Vice-Rector for Students and Quality of Teaching).
New faculties and faculty authorities
When established in the early 1800s, the University of Warsaw had five faculties. Today, this figure has increased to 24. As of 1st September 2020, five new faculties started their operation: Faculty of Archaeology, Faculty of History, Faculty of Sociology, Faculty of Philosophy, and Faculty of Culture and Arts.
Simultaneously to the election of the UW authorities, individual faculties were electing new deans and vice-deans.
“Initiative of Excellence” at UW
In 2020, UW kept developing one of its strategic programmes – the “Initiative of Excellence” (IDUB). In 2019, the University of Warsaw was granted research university status for 2020-2026. Thanks to the funding, UW will execute 70 measures specified in the application, including programmes supporting the potential of employees, doctoral candidates and students.
In the first year of the programme, the university organised several information meetings where members of the UW community could learn what particular research areas refer to and how to join it. As part of IDUB, the first calls were published, e.g. mini-grants programme for inter-institutional research teams in the framework of strategic partnerships.
In 2020, the University of Warsaw strengthened its international visibility by taking high places in world rankings: Quacquarelli Symonds World University Ranking (QS), Shanghai Ranking (ARWU), and Shanghai’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS). For its achievements in obtaining research grants in the Horizon 2020 programme (in 2014–2020), UW received the Crystal Brussels Sprouts Prize.
As a member of the 4EU+ Alliance, UW actively participated in plenty of initiatives and projects, developing a new quality of cooperation in teaching, education, research and administration. Only in November, a student team representing the University of Warsaw won the second price in the 4EU+ Urban Health Case Challenge.
Scientific achievements of UW researchers
2020 abounded in grants and awards granted to UW academics by both Polish and international funding institutions. Three researchers received European Research Council grants for 2020, and two UW employees were awarded ERC grants for 2019. ERC Starting Grants were awarded to Dr. Wojciech Czerwiński and Dr. Michał Pilipczuk from the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics. Dr. Justyna Olko from the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” received an ERC Consolidator Grant. Prof. Anna Matysiak from the Faculty of Economic Sciences, and Prof. Stefan Dziembowski from the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics, received ERC grants for 2019, an ERC Consolidator Grant and Advanced Grant respectively.
Polish institutions such as the Foundation for Polish Science, the National Science Centre, and the National Agency for Academic Exchange, provided funding, enabling UW researchers to carry out their projects.
Rector’s Didactic Award
Dr. Krzysztof Kaleta from the Faculty of Law and Administration, Dr. Renata Hryciuk from the Faculty of Culture and Arts, Dr. Janusz Cukras from the Faculty of Chemistry and Prof. Agnieszka Szarkowska from the Faculty of Applied Linguistics received the University of Warsaw Rector’s Didactic Award. The award aims to recognise selected academics who have remarkable achievements in teaching and introducing innovative education methods. This year, however, more academic teachers were distinguished. Honourable mentions were awarded to Prof. Robert Ślepaczuk from the Faculty of Economic Sciences, Prof. Agnieszka Otwinowska-Kasztelanic from the Faculty of Modern Languages and Prof. Katarzyna Grabowska from the Faculty of Physics.
Not only UW scientists but also UW students had remarkable achievements in 2020. For example, a team of students from the Faculty of Law and Administration won the 2020 All-European International Humanitarian and Refugee Law Moot Court Competition. Students of the MBA programme took first place in the spring edition of the international strategy game CAPSIM Challenge, defeating 73 teams from universities in the world. Our students performed great in sports, including bridge and climbing.