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Fred Karlsson

Fred Göran Karlsson
Born February 17, 1946, Turku

Master of Arts 1969, Åbo Akademi University (Finnish language) and University of Turku (phonetics)
Master of Arts 1972 (linguistics), University of Chicago
PhD 1974 (phonetics), University of Turku
Docent in Finnish language 2012–, University of Helsinki

Emeritus professor of general linguistics 2012–, University of Helsinki
Professor of general linguistics 1980–2012, University of Helsinki
Research fellow 1976–78, Academy of Finland
Acting associate professor of Finnish language 1975, Åbo Akademi University
Lecturer in phonetics 1973–74, University of Gothenburg
Acting professor of phonetics 1973, University of Turku
Research associate 1969, University of Jyväskylä

Research areas: phonetics, morphology, syntax, automatic syntactical analysis, linguistic complexity, corpus linguistics, the history of linguistics, Finnish grammar

Membership of scholarly societies
The Finnish Society of Science and Letters 1984
Academia Europaea 1988
The Royal Society of Sciences at Uppsala 2005
The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities 2008

The Finnish Information Processing Association prize for best computing product of 1988 (together with Kimmo Koskenniemi)
Oskar Öflund Foundation prize 1988
Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters’ E. J. Nyström prize 1996
‘Professor of the year’ 1998, Finnish Union of University Professors
Commander of the Order of the lion of Finland 2003
Finnish Cultural Foundation award of merit 2013
A Man of Measure. Festschrift in Honour of Fred Karlsson on his 60th Birthday. Special Supplement to SKY Journal of Linguistics, Volume 19, 2006. Urho Määttä and Jussi Niemi (eds.) Turku: The Linguistic Association of Finland

Photo: Sylvi Soramäki-Karlsson
Written by Fred Karlsson (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

National Higher Education Policy

Between 1991 and 1992 I led a project to evaluate the examination system used in the humanities. The project involved preparing for the changes brought on by the new degree ordinance. The 1994 changes to the examination system in were considerable: we scrapped the degree programmes introduced in 1980, started to grade basic, intermediate and advanced studies separately once more, brought back the BA degree in the humanities, and removed compulsory general studies. Many of these changes anticipated the Bologna Process, which came some years later.

I was the vice chairman of the University Council between 1993 and 1995, when Reijo Vihko served as chairman. It was a turbulent term, not least because of the economic depression. The department head, Markku Linna, had blunt instructions for the nascent council: “your task is to overhaul the institution of Finnish higher education.” We prepared almost a hundred proposals, only a few of which were ever put into effect. Out of the blue, in February 1993 the Ministry of Education asked the Council to prepare a presentation for appointing about ten Centres of Excellence in Research. The preparation was chaotic, with photocopiers glowing red at every university. After several rounds of voting, the Council managed to choose the first Centre of Excellence in the country. I believe this was the beginning of the much inflated hype around these Centres.

Between 1996 and 1999 I was a member of the first evaluation board of institutes of higher education. I had to participate in many different kinds of evaluations, from the handling of charter applications by the first polytechnics to the foreign language programmes at universities and polytechnics. I was also involved in the weeklong evaluation of the University of Vaasa. The start of the evaluation was inauspicious. I found a thick folder on the desk in my hotel room. On the first page was a note from the university’s Faculty of Arts, declaring my unsuitability to evaluate their faculty.

Photo: Evy Nickström, Hbl.


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