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Regular version of the site

Dean's Address: HSE, Math Faculty, and I

I only know about how the Faculty of Mathematics evolved thanks to my colleagues’ recollections. I was working abroad back then, and only arrived at HSE a year later. I heard that HSE and this new faculty in particular had huge ambitions. I remember discussing the news about the launch of this new faculty with colleagues in Bremen. We were a bit skeptical: ‘Yes, the staff comprises some celebrities, but will they really teach the students?’ We had also heard rumors that the first attempt at enrollment failed – they couldn’t even find enough candidates for the 40 state-funded places. ‘That’s it. They won’t have a second attempt: that kind of failure isn’t forgiven’. And the parents of many prospective students thought similarly: ‘It will soon be shut down, it’s better to apply to a university that has 250 years of history behind it’. But somehow, less than a year later, I found myself an associate professor at the Faculty of Mathematics and have met some incredibly talented students.

So this is how it happened. It started with an international competition. Most of the professors at the Faculty of Mathematics were hired through open international competitions (which is why we are well integrated into the global academic community). I was interested in participating in this competition, if only out of curiosity – Russia had never before conducted open competitions for mathematical positions, or if it had, I hadn’t heard about them. I came to Moscow for an interview. They didn’t hire me, but I realized that I simply had to work here. This is where one of the world’s best mathematical schools is being revived, this is where all our hopes come together, and this is where each participant’s contribution makes much more difference than anywhere else. Half a year later, I was successful in the next competition and declined an offer from a prestigious German university in order to return to Moscow.

I’m proud of HSE and my faculty. Most of all, I’m proud because HSE isn’t afraid to state all sorts of ambitions and in fact goes on to realize them successfully. According to an international expert council’s evaluation, the Faculty of Mathematics’ undergraduate programme is comparable with the world’s best programmes in mathematics. And this is five years after it was founded! The Faculty of Mathematics is a united team, in which each member feels responsible for the whole faculty. Our professional goal is to make the Moscow mathematical school a leader again, to become unconditionally the best. We do math, this is our life, and we do it together with our students. We study with them, we solve complicated problems together, and we open up new horizons.  Students are the core of the faculty and the purpose of our existence. Our social goal is to prepare well-rounded experts with fundamental mathematical skills and well-trained brains. We see our graduates as people who will change the future (foe the better, of course!), people able to solve difficult tasks, no matter where they come from. The most complicated part for them would be finding a problem complicated enough to be interesting!

My role as a dean is to represent the faculty’s interests, integrate them with HSE’s interests, and facilitate their implementation. The first dean of the Faculty of Mathematics was Sergei Lando, and the faculty underwent a rapid rise under his administration. Mr. Lando suggested I provide administrative support for our further rapid development and help us realize the next round of ‘impossible’ ambitions, and Mr. Kuzminov authorized me to do it. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. This task is thrilling and complicated enough (for me).

Vladlen Timorin