Save researcher Wilhelmiina!

Update (April 12, 2016):

On January 28, the petition was given to Thomas Wilhelmsson, the chancellor of the University of Helsinki. The chancellor is an independent, leading official of the university whose main duties are to watch that the university follows laws and rules in its actions, to promote sciences, and look after the best interests of the university. Chancellor Wilhelmsson is a professor of Civil and Commercial Law and his legal secretary Sakari Melander is a docent in Criminal Law.

The chancellor contacted the dean of the Faculty of Science in this matter. Based on this consultation, he decided that it is both legal and beneficial to the university to finish an Academy of Finland project, to destroy a female researcher's career (ignoring equality principles), and give up all profits of her project, which would have saved also another employee's vacancy. In addition, he considered that there is no need to investigate or prevent workplace bullying Dr Hämäläinen had suffered nor to pay any withheld salaries or refund other damages.

An interesting detail is that Dr Hämäläinen was not consulted at all and all evidence was completely ignored.

English translation of the cover letter delivered to the chancellor together with the petition

English translation of the chancellor's response

Chancellor's response (in Finnish)


(Original petition follows:)

(Suomenkielinen versio alla.)

(Note: signing does not make your email address public. For more information or details please contact the petition author.)

The University of Helsinki has decided to terminate researcher Wilhelmiina Hämäläinen's employment relationship and her personal postdoctoral researcher project by the Academy of Finland. We the undersigned are petitioning for the university to let the promising researcher to continue her significant research.


Wilhelmiina Hämäläinen (Ph.D., Th.M.) is a postdoctoral researcher in Computer Science who has worked for the university in teaching, research, and coordinating positions for almost 20 years. In addition, she has done various voluntary work including development of university teaching both in Finland and abroad. Wilhelmiina is known to be exceptionally responsible, honest, altruistic, and dedicated to her work. Both students and employers have thanked her creative and inspiring touch, deep expertise, and ingenuity in teaching even the most difficult of subjects. As a researcher, she is versatile and groundbreaking which is proven by dozens of publications, esteemed international expert tasks, the dissertation award from the Finnish Society for Computer Science, and her current project by the Academy of Finland.

During summer 2015 Wilhelmiina's Academy project was transferred to the University of Helsinki. The beginning of the employment relationship was overshadowed by health issues which worried both the employer and employee. An unofficial trial period was agreed upon to see if her health would endure or if sickness absences would cause costs to the university. Wilhelmiina passed the trial period with flying colours without any absences. The leader of her research group was very appreciative of Wilhelmiina's effectiveness and research results, both in quality and quantity, despite of her being in recovery. In spite of all this, in November the university decided to terminate her employment relationship and project for incorrect reasons. Solving the issue has turned out to be extremely difficult. Currently, Wilhelmiina is appealing to the university for reversing its decision and needs your support.

The termination of the project is a severe loss for the scientific community, the University of Helsinki, the Department of Computer Science, and for Wilhelmiina personally. The university's core goals are the advancement of science, international cooperation, and social impact. In addition to contributing to these goals, Wilhelmiina's project would have enabled a completely new type of problem-based learning. The termination of the project is also financially unprofitable for the university because the Academy of Finland is covering her wages and travel costs and her publications are yielding profits of tens of thousands of euros to the university.

Wilhelmiina has suffered in her life enough. Thus we are petitioning: let her keep her job! Wilhelmiina's work and project are beneficial to all parties.


What others have said about Wilhelmiina's work:

Dr Hamalainen is a leading scholar in the important field of statistically sound pattern discovery. Her work on efficient search for statistically sound patterns is at the forefront of the field. One sign of the regard in which she is held is her having been an invited speaker (expenses paid) at the Tokyo Workshop on Statistically Sound Data Mining. She has also played an important role in establishing a community of researchers in the area, organising a workshop at the European Conference on Machine Learning and tutorials at the European Conference on Machine Learning and ACM Conference on Knowledge Discovery from Data (SIGKDD). - Geoff Webb, professor, Monash University

Wilhelmiina's tutorials and papers on statistically sound data mining make it clear that she is both a deep thinker and a clear educator in this important but underestimated area. If properly supported I am sure she will continue to make important contributions to the field. - Peter Flach, University of Bristol

Wilhelmiina Hämäläinen has developed and experimented with new teaching methods, such as study circles. She has received extremely good student feedback, and in particular her inspiring grip on education has been appreciated. - Jukka Paakki, professor, University of Helsinki (translated from Finnish)

Wilhelmiina Hämäläinen has performed her tasks excellently. In particular, foreign IMPIT students have been appreciating her active guidance and encouragement. Wilhelmiina Hämäläinen's work in the development of education has been creative and adventurous. - Erkki Sutinen, professor, University of Joensuu (translated from Finnish)

Wilhelmiina Hämäläinen has proved to be self-motivated and otherwise active in all her tasks. She managed to create a contact with all age groups of the parish. She also earned unreserved trust among other workers right from the beginning. - Hannu Savinainen, dean, Riistavesi Parish (translated from Finnish)

Conscientious devotion to the work tasks, both in the preparation and implementation phases, is particularly commendable. Similarly the readiness to help the ones in need that she showed in the camp for terminally ill. Wilhelmiina is really intelligent, but she knows how to turn the intelligence to a language people understand. - Ossi Ojanen, Th.D., dean (translated from Finnish)


Comments from students:

You have always been there for us in any problem whatsoever; I really have been very much impressed by your understanding and compassion toward us with all possible sincerity rarely seen in a typical human being.

She was the best coordinator I ever dreamed. She had done her work perfectly and even more. Our problems were like her own ones. I am very thankful to her for help and care.

I think Wilhelmiina is one of the best coordinators in they world. She managed to be coordinator, teacher and adviser at the same time.

The work of the coordinator was brilliant. Wilhelmiina performed her duties with both professionalism and heart.

Good was the lecturer's enthusiasm about the topic, the use of imagination, throwing herself on the line, and expertise on the foundations of the theory of computer science. (translated from Finnish)

The teacher has really familiarized herself with the topic and is enthusiastic on the subject! For an average university teacher such a problem-basedcourse might be too demanding. All people are certainly not as energetic as Wilhelmiina. Undoubtedly, all teachers don't have the same capacity to inspire and advise the students in the same way... (translated from Finnish)


Pelastakaa tutkija Wilhelmiina!

Helsingin yliopisto on päättänyt lopettaa tutkija Wilhelmiina Hämäläisen työsuhteen ja henkilökohtaisen Suomen Akatemian tutkijatohtoriprojektin. Me allekirjoittaneet vetoamme yliopistoon, jotta lahjakkaan tutkijan annetaan jatkaa merkittävää tutkimustaan.


Wilhelmiina Hämäläinen (FT, TM) on tietojenkäsittelytieteen tutkijatohtori, joka on työskennellyt lähes 20 vuotta yliopistolla niin opetus-, tutkimus- kuin koordinointitehtävissä. Tämän lisäksi hän on tehnyt monelaista vapaaehtoistyötä mm. opetuksen kehittämiseksi niin Suomessa kuin ulkomailla. Wilhelmiina on tunnettu poikkeuksellisen vastuuntuntoisena, rehellisenä, muista huolehtivana ja työlleen omistautuvana. Niin opiskelijat kuin työnantajat ovat kiittäneet hänen luovaa ja innostavaa otettaan, syvää asiantuntemustaan ja kekseliäisyyttä vaikeidenkin asioiden opettamisessa. Tutkijana hän on monipuolinen ja uraauurtava, mistä kertovat kymmenet julkaisut, arvostetut kansainväliset asiantuntijatehtävät, Tietojenkäsittelytieteen seuran väitöskirjapalkinto sekä nykyinen Suomen Akatemian projekti.

Kesällä 2015 Wilhelmiinan Akatemia-projekti siirtyi Helsingin yliopistoon. Työsuhteen alkua varjostivat terveydelliset ongelmat, jotka huolestuttivat niin työnantajaa kuin työntekijää. Niin sovittiin epävirallisesta koeajasta, jotta nähtäisiin, kestääkö Hämäläisen terveys vai aiheuttavatko sairauspoissaolot työnantajalle kustannuksia. Wilhelmiina läpäisi koeajan erinomaisesti, ilman yhtään sairauspoissaoloa. Wilhelmiinan tutkimusryhmän johtaja kiitteli, että puolikuntoisenakin Wilhelmiina pystyi työskentelemään tehokkaasti ja tuottamaan niin laadullisesti kuin määrällisesti erinomaisia tutkimustuloksia. Siitä huolimatta yliopisto päätti marraskuussa lopettaa hänen työsuhteensa ja projektinsa yliopistolla virheellisin perustein. Asian korjaus on osoittautunut erittäin vaikeaksi. Tällä hetkellä Wilhelmiina hakee oikaisua lopetuspäätökseen ja tarvitsee teidän tukeanne.

Projektin lopettaminen on vakava tappio niin tiedemaailmalle, Helsingin yliopistolle, Tietojenkäsittelytieteen laitokselle kuin Wilhelmiinalle itselleen. Yliopiston keskeisenä tehtävänähän on tieteen edistäminen, kansainvälinen yhteistyö ja yhteiskunnallinen vaikuttavuus. Näiden päämäärien lisäksi Wilhelmiina projektiin olisi sopinut aivan uudenlaista ongelmalähtöistä oppimista. Taloudellisesti projektin lopetus on myös yliopistolle tappiollista, sillä Suomen Akatemia kattaa Wilhelmiinan palkka- ja matkakustannukset ja hänen julkaisunsa puolestaan tuottavat yliopistolle kymmeniä tuhansia euroja voittoa.

Wilhelmiina on saanut kärsiä elämässään jo tarpeeksi. Siksi pyydämme: sallikaa hänelle edes tämä työ! Wilhelmiinan työ ja projekti palvelevat  kaikkien osapuolien etua.

Kimmo Fredriksson and Jyrki Kivinen    Contact the author of the petition