With the beginning of the new study year, Ginta Majore has taken up the post of the Vice-Rector for Academic and Scientific Work of Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences. Although the vice-rector considers herself to be the local of Valmiera for only five years, she has been together with the university since its beginning. She also associates her future challenges, goals and plans with academic and scientific work.
How did you get to Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences?
I had completed my undergraduate studies and worked in Jurmala as a Director of IT Studies at the State Agency for Social Integration, which is mainly involved in vocational rehabilitation of people with special needs. I wanted to study for a master's degree, but the legislation of that time did not allow a second higher education to be obtained with the state support. I was looking for a way to solve it, and one of the options was to cooperate with Riga Technical University (RTU), namely, to start working there and ask for a discount for my studies. I had an excellent supervisor for my bachelor’s and later master's paper, as well as for my doctoral dissertation in the initial stage, Professor Mārīte Kirikova from RTU Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology. Together we managed to find a solution - we developed several project applications having a goal that corresponds to the topic of my master's thesis and providing funding for my studies. This was successful and I was able to start my master studies. After a while, the professor was offered a six-month exchange of experience work in the USA, but she had an agreement of teaching a course at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences. She was looking for someone who could replace her and chose me. In fact, I showed interest myself in teaching a modelling course in Valmiera. I was travelling from Jurmala to Valmiera once or twice a week.
Now you call yourself a local in Valmiera…
When I finished my doctoral studies in Riga, I focused on work at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences as I was both teaching courses and was the head of IT college and bachelor programmes. I started to feel the travelling was hard because I was three or four days away from home. I had to decide whether to move work or home. I decided to move home closer to the workplace. I am a citizen of Valmiera for about five years now.
You have not graduated from Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences. Hasn't this made it difficult for you to fit in here?
I don’t think so, since I have been involved with Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences from the very beginning, since 2003. The fact that I have worked elsewhere is an advantage. For example, none of my colleagues has ever been my teacher, so there is no feeling of a barrier.
With the beginning of the new academic year, you have become the Vice-Rector for Academic and Scientific Work of ViA. What are your goals when taking up this post?
The aim is to focus on developing a broader international dimension of the study process. There are very good developments so far, but I see challenges such as attracting international students and teachers. We could create the conditions for the foreign teachers wishing to visit us for a longer period of time and work on project applications. This is closely linked to the second component, namely the development of science, the development of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 projects. I also see an opportunity to take an active part in the Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellowship contests, which allows us to attract foreign lecturers and our lecturers to travel abroad. Another goal is to build closer cooperation with the industry. Returning to work from the parental leave, I was very excited about the significant changes and improvements that have taken place during three and a half years, but we can develop it even further.
What are your interests when it comes to science?
Business / business information system modelling that has interested me since my bachelor studies. It also includes modelling of business processes and business laws - everything around the main requirements of an information system. The other thing is sociotechnical systems modelling, and modelling of systems’ sustainability and imitations. I have also started to become interested in cyber security engineering, which is a hot topic in Latvia and in the world. Technology is evolving very quickly, and by introducing it in our daily lives we can make our cyberspace more vulnerable. When the Internet was very slow, it was possible to protect ourselves effectively, to fix threats quickly, but now the time available has diminished and the transmission of information has become much faster. People are not able to respond so quickly, so computerized tools must be developed that analyse the flow of information.
What is your greatest achievement in science so far?
The bar to jump over is a science project at the European level and I have succeeded. Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences is in a consortium of an international Horizon 2020 science project. The target I was aiming for has been reached, but it will probably have to be “jumped over” a few more times to strengthen it.
How do you think the new generation can be attracted to the field of science?
To dispel the myth that scientists just sit in labs, isolated from the society, at the bookshelf and the spreadsheets. Children at an early age have a very well developed investigator's instincts. If we allowed them to research whatever they want, of course, observing the safety measures, we would have fantastic scientists, but we parents sometimes love setting boundaries for children. If it is done within reasonable limits, the capacity of scientists develops naturally.
Your job responsibilities have changed since you became Vice-Rector. What else has changed?
Not only that. I have noticed that I am increasingly trying to do things that can be done on time in a timely manner and not postpone. When in doubt, I was in the habit of not making decisions right away, but postponing and pondering for several days. Then new things come up and days go by, and I have to return to those decisions, so now I try to make decisions right away. Previously, I was very focused on the IT field, and now I have to think about the university as a whole - both the development in the social sciences and in engineering.
What motivates you in your daily work?
The result can be seen quickly enough and the satisfaction with the work done can be achieved in a relatively short time.
What is your favourite place in Valmiera?
Dalina Beach, Feelings Park. When my daughter was very small, and when I wanted to think about something, we went there. When I was living in Jurmala, I went to the sea because I liked the vastness. When I moved to Valmiera, I thought I would miss it, but I found a source of inspiration in the River Gauja. I like Valmiera - you can feel the personal attitude everywhere and people are welcome here.
How would you describe Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences in one / two words?
Beehive! At our country house, our neighbours are engaged in beekeeping, and there are bees in our meadow. We have a very good opportunity to watch them. That is interesting. The product they give is absolutely phenomenal. The way they behave, their internal hierarchy, the way bees deal with resources resemble Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences. We also have a unique end product - education. It is different from the education obtained elsewhere, has its own special feature.