Pentti Rauhala served as President of the Espoo-Vantaa Polytechnic and Laurea for a total of 15 years, starting in 1996. That time was filled with many different phases, from the establishment of a large regional polytechnic to obtaining a permanent operating licence and rising to become one of the most award-winning universities of applied sciences in Finland.
In the early days of the Vantaa Temporary Polytechnic, the school had two short-term Presidents: Osmo Lampinen and Mikko Takala. April of 1996 marked the beginning of a 15-year period, when Dr. Pentti Rauhala was appointed President of the school and Managing Director of EVAMK Oy, which was established in 1995. Rauhala's term as President lasted until 2011, at which time he retired.
Prior to his appointment as President, Rauhala served as Managing Director of the Educational Federation of Municipalities in Keski-Uusimaa He also sat on the Board of Directors of the university of applied sciences. He was involved in the establishment of a regional university of applied sciences from the very beginning.
- I remember that the polytechnic trial launched by Minister of Education Christoffer Taxell in 1989 was extremely well received, explains Rauhala, recalling the formative stages of the University of Applied Sciences.
- In the post-secondary level educational institutions we had in the federation, even those in my purview, a polytechnic was seen as a step up in the level of education, something we just had to get into.
The building phase of the regional university of applied sciences was a challenging time. Rauhala now admits that his position as President of the university of applied sciences at that time was tough sledding.
- I first started in '96 on a temporary basis, and I remember giving some serious thought to my future, when my position would be made permanent in the autumn of 1997, he says.
- I considered returning to the federation, but instead I chose to stay on at the University of Applied Sciences. I have never once regretted that decision.
From weakness to strength
In the early days, the polytechnic consisted of units, some containing as many as 17 educational institutions, located all over the Uusimaa region. The extent and fragmented nature of the polytechnic raised doubts. This challenge could also be seen in the application process for a permanent operating licence; indeed, EVAMK didn't get a permanent operating licence until its third attempt in 2000.
- But, the main thing to remember here is that, during that time, we turned our weakness - our regional expanse - into a strength, explains Rauhala.
Read the whole article in the latest issue of Forerunner Magazine here.