News from the Senior Management Team no. 44/2011

Constructive debate at 2011 Christmas speech

The three new members of the AU Board -  Professor Susanne Bødker, Associate Professor Peter Bugge and  Laboratory  Technician Berthe P. Beck Mortensen - contributed to a lively debate following the rector's Christmas speech. In the form of short, direct presentations, the new Board members confronted the senior management team with what they perceive as the greatest challenges for 2012 from the perspective of staff. The debate between the rector and the new Board members took place immediately after the rector's Christmas speech.

In the speech, Rector Holm-Nielsen reviewed the most significant events and issues of 2011, including the 2012 budget, study environment, AU Ideas, the interdisciplinary centres, and plans for AU's involvement in the Danish EU Presidency.

AU in good financial health

Like all other aspects of society, Danish universities will be affected by the economic recession in Denmark. As a consequence, Aarhus University anticipates weak growth in the short term, despite increases in student admissions, exam activity (STÅ) and external research funding. Rector Holm-Nielsen explained the university's financial situation in his Christmas speech last week when he presented the 2012 budget to staff.

Aarhus University's finances are sound, and it has been decided that  the operating surpluses of previous years will be invested in development process initiatives in the period 2012-2017 (DKK 50 million in 2012, and DKK 20 million annually from 2013 through 2017). These funds will be used to ensure the successful and complete implementation of the initiatives launched in the academic development process. This decision has been made in the recognition that the academic development process will take time; for example, some initiatives launched this year will first be realised in 2012.

AU anticipates a budget surplus of approximately DKK 50 million for 2011. The 2012 budget predicts a deficit of approximately the same size, out of a total budget of DKK six billion.

  • Read more in an interview with University Director Jørgen Jørgensen in the latest edition of UNIvers.

Official recognition of merger with IHA

The merger of the Engineering  College of Aarhus (IHA) became official last Thursday. The merger rests on the strong foundation of close collaboration on its terms and goals over a number of years.

According to the chairman of the AU Board, Michael Christiansen, the merger will have major significance for  Central and Western Jutland  - a significance comparable to the merger between the Aarhus School of Business and Aarhus University. He adds that the next step in the formalisation of the merger will be the ratification of a new act by the Danish Parliament. As a consequence of the merger, the Faculty of Science and Technology will increase student enrolments by 50 percent.

Increased grant to AU Ideas

Forty-five applicants have just been informed that their AU Ideas applications for new centres or research projects have been approved. The evaluation committee, which consisted of six AU professors, faced a difficult task. A total of 254 solid, interesting applications was submitted.  It would cost approximately DKK 700 million to realise all of these proposals.

At a meeting last week, the senior management team decided to follow the evaluation committee's recommendation to approve grants to forty-five selected projects, even though this would involve exceeding the original DKK 50 million grant from AUFF. The evaluation committee subsequently encouraged the university to release an additional DKK 28.4 million for the project. This proposal was accepted by the senior management team, which means that the grants amount to DKK 78,4 million in total.

The applicants have been informed that they are free to to start working on their projects immediately.

AU Ideas was established to support more unconventional research projects. As a result of this first round of applications, fifteen small new centres and thirty research projects will have an opportunity to pursue innovative ideas.

New advisory forums under development

The university-wide AU Forums for research, talent development, knowledge exchange and education may be established in February 2012.

Each forum will be affiliated with a university-wide committee and will have approximately twenty members. The forums will play an important role in advising the senior management team on issues of research policy and strategy.

The members of the four university-wide committees are also members of their respective AU Forums.  For example, the dean with university-wide responsibility for research and the four vice-deans for research are all members of AU Forum for Research. In addition, it has been determined that the new academic councils will appoint eight members of each forum, while the senior management team appoints the remaining seven.

It is expected that the academic councils will be established in January 2012, and that they will be able to nominate members to AU Forums shortly afterwards.

AU Professor Christian Søndergaard Jensen named ACM Fellow

Professor Christian Søndergaard Jensen, Department of Computer Science, AU, has been named ACM Fellow. The ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) recognises distinguished members for for their contributions to computing. The 2011 ACM Fellows are researchers from the world's leading universities, corporations, and research labs who are helping to drive the innovations that will sustain competitiveness in the digital age.   Christian Søndergaard Jensen is the only active Danish computer scientist to receive this honour.

He has been named ACM Fellow in recognition of over twenty years of research on temporal and spatio-temporal data management.

Jorck award to PhD student Martin Vesterby

Martin Vesterby, medical doctor and PhD student at AU, has been awarded DKK 200,000 by the Reinhold W. Jorck and Spouse Foundation. The award recognises Martin Vesterby's innovative research in areas such as telemedicine solutions. Dr Vesterby started his own business as a medical student, when he contributed to developing an administrative IT system for operating theatres. The system is now used for resource managment and booking at a number of Danish hospitals.


  • 25 January: Main Liaison Committee meeting
  • 2-3 February: Senior management team visits University of Gothenburg
  • 29 February: Meeting of University Board

The Senior Management Team, 20 December 2011

The Senior Management Team publishes a newsletter every week. This newsletter includes a brief description of current activities and discussions. You can sign up for the Danish version of the newsletter at, after which you will receive an e-mail whenever the newsletter is issued.

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