Baltic Leaders - Mait Klaassen, Rector of Estonian University of Life Sciences

 - Please tell us how this all began?

A well-known Estonian children's book „Agu Sihvka gives report” starts with the  words, „To give an honest account of the events I should start with ...”. I should start with my birth, which was a long time ago and to describe all the events taking place after it takes a lot of time and a lot of space. It calls for another interview.


- Please describe five things in your university you are proud of

There are a lot of things at the university that make me happy. Every organisation's most valuable assets are its people - our active and inquisitive students, open-minded and supportive staff and our graduates, who bring added value to our activities. I'm proud that according to QS World University Rankings by Subject, EMÜ is one of the top 100 universities in the world in the field of agriculture and forestry. As to research, the Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators database places the EMÜ into the top 1% most cited research facilities in the world in the field of plant and animal science, as well as environment and ecology. This is a sign that we are on the right track. However, we shouldn't rest on the laurels but push forward. There are a number of events that the University is proud of, for example the Graduate Reunion that took place this September and brought together more than 3000 graduates of our University or international XXX EURAGRI Conference „The bio-economy – challenges and implementation – the research organizations' perspective”. It has been said that success isn't always about greatness, but about consistency. There are a lot of events and sectoral conferences that have repeatedly taken place at our University for a number of years – „Researchers' Night”, conferences „Biosystems Engineering”, „Agroforum Mare Balticum”, Usage of Renewable Energy Sources, Green Forum „Rohevik”, „Healthy Animal, Healthy Food”, „Veterinary Medicine”, „Soil Day”, etc. The University attaches a lot of importance to fostering a sustainable and environment-friendly way of thinking and that is why it is heart-warming to see that the students and staff follow the principles of sustainability in every-day life. We just had the Green University Week at our University and the competition „Let's Pedal” is still running.


- What do you think are your greatest managerial achievements at university?

As to managerial achievement I think the most important thing is that we adopted the new strategy for the University at the end of the previous year. People sometimes tend to forget how things fit together and, now and then, it is good to go over the old truths. Today, our University is compact, its facilities are in good order and nice to look at. Now our main task is to meet the expectations of our students and keep our staff reasonably happy on the way.


- Do you feel that your university stays Baltic when everyone wants to be European or Global?

Please define the term 'Baltic'. I think it's the ambition of every University to make a mark internationally, first closer to home and then on a larger scale. On the other hand, we cannot forget our roots and our own particularities as they will only add personality. Thus the short answer is, we want it all!


- Do you think that cross-border cooperation can be valuable? Any examples? What kind of international experience you feel important to absorb?

Being the only university specialising in agriculture and agriculture-related fields, the answer is – of course we do. It is done all the time, through official accreditation of institutions or study programmes, through comparing oneself with the colleagues, professional reviews, personal experience, feedback from the students, alumni, professional organisations, etc. Nowadays different projects, competence centres and graduate schools involve partners not only from one's own country but from abroad. As Baltic dimension was mentioned before, BOVA University network that this year celebrates its 20th birthday might be a good  example of such cross-border cooperation.


- When you travel to partner universities what makes the most impression on you?

People, it's always the people. People reflect spirit of the place or institution.


- What are your ambitions for the next year?

That's between me and the God! But I hope I'll have more time for my grandchildren and hobbies.


- What are three the most curious things in your office?

It's difficult to say. Maybe the dress suit in the closet, hanging there just in case; maybe the fact that out of the four closets, two are still empty; maybe the tree made from amber that reminds me of the days I was at the head of the BOVA network; maybe a box of tissues and a bottle of brandy in the drawer for the members of staff that need to be cheered up; maybe the hand-made metal rose I was presented when my second term of office began. Make your pick! ”ut the most important thing is that my doors are open for the members of the University – both for the staff and the students.