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The first teachers

Published: 19 February 2021

When Luleå University started in 1971, there were a few teachers from the start: Torbjörn Hedberg, Ulrik Sundbäck, Torvald Henja and Bengt Klefsjö. They were newcomers without so many Luleå contacts, but the university would become their family.

- I came to Luleå, thanks to Klas Tennberg who was connected to the Organizing Committee for Higher Technical Education and Research in Upper Norrland (NoTH). Klas worked at the University of Umeå and once asked me if I could not imagine moving to Luleå now that they would start a university there, says Bengt Klefsjö, who at the start of the university was a lecturer in mathematics.

The atmosphere between the employees and the students at the university was very good and many felt that they were like a big family. The teachers had recently moved to Luleå and did not know many. They therefore had to help each other in different ways with different things and problems. Inger Ström in the switchboard kept track of everyone, both staff and students, and was able to leave messages to the students from their parents about train tickets to be booked.

- Our wives could call Inger and ask her to let us know that we should buy two liters of milk and a kilo of potatoes before we got home, says Bengt Klefsjö.

The teacher group worked very closely together. They were all interested in teaching and felt a very great responsibility to ensure that the university developed in a positive way. The teaching was innovative and broke with old working methods and course content in comparison with the traditional academic teaching at the already established colleges and universities. The lectures did not take place in front of passively listening students but in smaller classes of 25 students where they alternated reviews and counted. This classroom teaching will be part of the university's brand for a good time to come.

- Of course, it was exciting to be part of starting a new university. We wanted to create something different and succeeded well with it, says Bengt Klefsjö.

It was not just the teachers at the university who thought the structure was exciting. So did the politicians and others who have been involved in driving development. Together with county councilor Inge Hammarsten, municipal councilor Nisse Malmgren and school principal Karl Gustafsson and others, parties were held and Nisse Malmgren once said that "Tonight it has been great fun, we will have a party like this every year as long as the university exists". But then no one knew how big the University of Luleå would be.