Dr Nurmala Kartini Pandjaitan Sjahrir
Dr Nurmala Kartini Pandjaitan Sjahrir

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    Juli. 13, 2021
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Dr Nurmala Kartini Pandjaitan Sjahrir

As soon as the car door opened, a woman with a friendly face and a bright smile, got out of the car gracefully and greeted the people who greeted her warmly. Wearing a midi dress with a canal motif with a combination of deep purple and magenta colors, complemented by a woven floppy hat accent that protects her head, she makes an elegant and fashionable impression firmly attached to her appearance. Also perfected with a pair of sneakers wrapped her feet.

The stylish figure is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Universitas Sumatera Utara (MWA USU), Dr. Nurmala Kartini Pandjaitan Sjahrir, who is scheduled to conduct a review of several supporting facilities for academic activities within the faculty at the Universitas Sumatera Utara. The presence of Dr. Kartini (as she is often called) became a special sight that morning until the next Wednesday, where she will attend several agendas that are in line with her capacity as Chair of USU's MWA for the 2020-2025 period.

Dr. Nurmala Kartini Pandjaitan Sjahrir was lined up as Chair of the USU Board of Trustees (MWA) for the 2020-2025 period after being elected by acclamation, at the USU MWA plenary meeting on October 24 2020. She officially replaced the previous USU MWA Chair, (the late) Drs. Panusunan Pasaribu, MM .

Together with USU Chancellor Dr Muryanto Amin, S Sos, M Si, MWA Secretary Prof dr Guslihan Dasatjipta, Sp A (K) and other USU MWA members, a woman who has served as Indonesian Ambassador to the Republic of Argentina and the Republic of Paraguay and The Republic of Uruguay walked leisurely and agile throughout the activity. The review started from the Faculty of Cultural Sciences, continued to the USU Library, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine as a closing.

Before conducting the review, we asked for a few moments to chat with the wife of one of Indonesia's leading economists, the late Dr Sjahrir. He graciously accepted the request and answered all the questions asked in a relaxed and enthusiastic manner. (ULC)


USU and Its New Challenges

With her current capacity as Chair of the USU Board of Trustees, Dr. Kartini is well aware of her responsibility to support USU's progress in the future. Moreover, the various challenges in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 era require that university alumni produced by USU are no longer just scholars who master scientific theories but must appear capable as superior scholars who are tough and ready to use.

“The Universitas Sumatera Utara is currently faced with new challenges that cannot wait and everyone in the carriage of this institution must participate in responding to these challenges. We are still in the time of a pandemic. Let's see how the learning system changes significantly. Classrooms are no longer the main requirement for the realization of the learning process in universities and educational institutions under them. All facilitated by state-of-the-art technology. Learning is changing with the online system and using zoom, google classroom and so on,” he said with a serious expression.

According to the woman who was born in Simargala Huta Namora, Silaen, Toba Samosir Regency, North Sumatra, on February 1, 1950, USU has its own challenges in responding to current conditions.

“Time can't wait. Must be responsive. Acceleration in technology creates its own logical consequences. Lecturers and students must have facilities and infrastructure that support the remote or online learning system. Technological equipment must be equipped by the institution. So this will have an impact on the policies taken by USU," she said.

With a look in her eyes that implied determination, the mother of one son also emphasized the importance of USU to think about the extent to which infrastructure development can be carried out to support learning programs. Starting from the procurement and renovation of laboratories for research in all faculties to other facilities adapted to the changes that occur, namely the process of digitizing information technology.

In addition, “We also don't forget some things that look trivial but are quite important in creating a comfortable campus for learning and self-development activities. The existing faculties must be equipped with clean toilets, comfortable gardens, cafeterias with nutritious food and drinks, all of which support students to study and lecturers and staff work with a happy heart. Right?" She sought approval for her argument.


According to the alumni of the Faculty of Anthropology from the University of Indonesia in 1976, the campus should be a home for students. Where students do not feel burdened when they have to go to campus to study. A comfortable campus will also make the relationship between students better.

“The campus has facilities that are still lacking and must be added immediately, which are not yet fully equipped. Made as beautiful and green as possible so it doesn't feel boring like an office," she said.

Alluding to her position as Chair of the USU Board of Trustees, Dr. Kartini, who successfully completed her master's degree at Boston University and earned her Master's degree in 1981, said her institution would be active and responsive in carrying out monitoring, supervisory and advisory functions for the chancellor.

“We from MWA will give full support to the Chancellor to carry out his duties so that he can work optimally for USU. The Chancellor and other leaders must be willing to work hard and spend time full time and become a dream team. The vice chancellors and the leadership ranks under them must be chosen from the right people and have the same vision to build a campus,” she hoped.

Working hard, she added, is easy to say but difficult to implement. The implementation needs to be tested. 

No Politics in Campus

Dr. Kartini emphasized that the ideal university is as an institution that produces superior and accomplished human beings, both at the national and international levels. For this reason, she reminded all university leaders from the highest to the lowest to unite in diversity. “The superior humans are shown, among other things, by their attitude that is able to accept differences and not entrench themselves. Able to accept the strengths and weaknesses of others. The most important thing is the performance, the dedication.”

She also stressed that campuses should not engage in politics. "You can understand politics, but don't do politics. No parent is willing to pay their child's tuition fees for politics," she said.


Dr. Kartini hinted that USU's MWA would continue to encourage campus policies to implement the independent campus policy. MWA will actively participate. "In the future, we will build more laboratories and collaborate with the industrial world and parties who support the achievement of the independent campus program.

Campus also needs counseling rooms as a means for students who have personal problems that interfere with their lives and interfere with learning activities. And most importantly, today's campuses must have academic influencers," said the honorary medal winner "Order de Mayo el Merito en el Grado Gran Cruz" from the Argentine Government for her capacity as Indonesian Ambassador to the Republic of Argentina, the Republic of Paraguay and the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

These academic influencers are people who will later socialize all study programs at USU and accelerate access to information and required academic substance. “In the current era of digitalization, we all have to move quickly and must not hesitate. Open to all dynamics and changes that occur and must be consistent in improving self-ability," she said.

For Improvement, Women Must be Given Equal Opportunities

In particular, Dr. Kartini also asked the Chancellor of USU to pay attention to the so-called affirmative action which refers to taking sides with women. He hopes that women in important and strategic positions at USU should be given the trust to occupy them.

“Women should be given the opportunity to give their contribution and dedication to the campus. Opportunities must be opened as wide as possible for USU leaders. And to the women I also advised not to be shy about showing their qualities. Opportunities should not only be waited for, but must also be created," she said.

Dr. Kartini saw that what made it difficult for women to progress not only come from external factors, but also from internal factors, where women themselves created certain boundaries for her to show her personal potential.

“Hopefully USU can become a university that is fair and opens wider space for women to excel. There's nothing that can't be done, what’s there is just not wanting to," she said with a big smile.