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Hagstrom leaves Stanford to run Sweden's universities

STANFORD -- Stig Hagstrom, a Stanford University professor of materials science engineering and director of Stanford's Center for Materials Research, is to become the chief executive of Sweden's university system.

Hagstrom, a native of Sweden, will assume his six-year appointment Oct. 1. Hagstrom has been at Stanford since 1986, and became a tenured professor the following year. He has served as chairman of the materials science engineering department.

Hagstrom, who will be based in Stockholm, will be chancellor of Sweden's 37 colleges and universities. Among these are seven large institutions, such as the Karolinska Institute, the medical school that decides the Nobel Prize in medicine. Some colleges are specialized for such fields as opera, theater and journalism.

There is only one private college in Sweden, and that is heavily subsidized, Hagstrom said. About 150,000 students attend the nation's colleges and universities every year.

Sweden has recently decentralized its universities, Hagstrom said. Until last year, students applied to a central office that assigned them to the appropriate school, a system similar to that of the University of California until five years ago. After the long-time Socialist government was voted out of office in Sweden, the Swedish structure was changed.

"The graduate schools are not as well developed as they are here," Hagstrom said. "U.S. graduate schools are the best in the world."

In Sweden, students do not apply to graduate schools for admission but to individual professors, who decide whether to take them on. Hagstrom said he favors - and may try to introduct - the American system, whereby admission to graduate school is competitive.

"Competition influences quality," he said. "You get the best students through competition."

He said he also is troubled that some Swedish colleges, such as those for journalism, engineering and performing arts, are too narrow in their education.

Hagstrom said he also will try to emphasize "internationalism," particularly as Sweden has applied for entry into the European Community.

Hagstrom is noted for his pioneering work in electron spectroscopy. He was a collaborator with Kai Siegbahn, who won the 1983 Nobel Prize in physics for his use of electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis. Hagstrom also is known for his work with rare earth metals and compounds, and was the first scientist to experimentally measure the electronic states in these materials using photoelectron spectroscopy.

A graduate of the University of Uppsala, he came to the United States 16 years ago and was manager of the general science laboratory at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. He later became acting center manager.

Hagstrom said his status with Stanford is still unsettled; he intends to retain his campus home and return. His four children, aged 21 to 32, will remain in the United States. He and his wife will be leaving for Sweden in a few weeks to find an apartment.

He said he will continue to work with six Stanford graduate students although his colleagues will handle the day-to-day management of them.



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