With a mission to reflect KTH´s research

Published Dec 18, 2018

From a day in the life of a researcher to the latest rankings editor and reporter Christer Gummeson has written or edited thousands of articles in the university’s personnel magazine, Campi, for almost two decades. The magazine is now closing.

“Everything has its time. It's been tremendous fun, but it is truly time for a change,” he says when we meet at Open Lab on the KTH Campus.

At the checkout counter, he is asked if he is a student and therefore eligible for a discount on his coffee.

“That's the beauty of lifelong learning, you know,” says Gummeson, noticeably chuffed to hear once again how young he looks, despite being 54.

Gummeson arrived at KTH in August 2002, was briefed with starting a personnel magazine as part of a work environment project, and in December exactly 16 years ago, the first edition was published.

“Topical, local and engaged” were the key words in Gummeson’s manifesto. That first edition included headings such as “Advice for a sedentary lifestyle”, “The fight for a share of the pay pie continues”, plus an in-depth portrait of Henrik Artman, who told about a day in his life as a teacher and researcher at KTH.

The magazine content is a reflection of how KTH has developed over this same period. A great deal has happened since Campi was launched. KTH has become much bigger and more international. It faces increased competition and has expanded into several, larger campuses. Gummeson has seen several presidents and faculty deans come and go.

“Things have certainly changed a lot. Generally speaking, I would say KTH has become more professional by measuring itself against other universities.”

The font, format and logotype of the magazine have naturally changed over the years, but the content has stood the test of time and has regularly returned to certain issues, such as:new educational concepts; equality, or rather the lack of it; reorganisations; all possible aspects of work environments; and quality concerns.

Gummeson has been reporter, photographer and video maker while keeping the show on the road and checking every single item, heading and feature.

Via a combination of agility and attention to detail, he has planned and filled the magazine that has been distributed to KTH personnel, first in print and later electronically.

Being a one-person editorial desk takes a pretty big dose of courage, stubbornness and integrity. The person you are going to interview is a colleague and Gummeson has been party to numerous confidences over the years. And he´s been choosing stories all the time.

“There’s such an incredible number of things going on that you have to sift and try to explain about developments and what it’s like to be a researcher and their everyday life and link these to how society is developing.”

At a big employer, there are always issues to air, problems to solve and challenges to deal with. A personnel magazine can be one way of keeping the dialogue alive and making the organisation’s contours that bit clearer.

“Openness and debate are the lifeblood of a university in a way.”

What are you most proud of?
Gummeson takes his time and reflects as he trawls his memory for all the articles, personal interviews and features he has been involved in.

“When we wrote about a star researcher that KTH had recruited, who had got caught up in the spider’s web that is the Swedish Migration Agency administration process, and the recruitment looked like it would come to nothing.”

After the article was published, the Migration Agency changed its rules and the professor who had made the recruitment immediately sent a thank you letter to Campi.

“That was a big deal – to see that Campi actually had made a difference.”

Gummeson also names the articles last autumn in association with the #metoo movement, where he appealed to employees to share their experiences of harassment.

Calls and letters came in. Other university magazines got in touch and asked how he had plucked up the courage.

“This is an incredibly important issue and showed that many women had enough trust in Campi to be willing to share their story. This is something I am both proud of and grateful about.”

What has been the most enjoyable?
“To see readers engaging with the content in the magazine and all the feedback I have received over the years. A trip to Chicago and a study visit to a partner university was also a high point.”

What’s next for you?
“I’m going to be content manager for the researcher group and continue to write about life as a researcher, except now at KTH.se.”

As always, he is grateful for tips on good news items and important stories.

Articles and news stories oriented to KTH employees will live on in a new form ( see article). Campi articles for the last five years will be available on the website.

Are you nostalgic?
“No, absolutely not. As I said, everything has its time. Just feel a bit wistful right now.”

Gummeson goes back to the checkout counter. Time for a refill.

Text: Jill Klackenberg

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