News from the Senior Management Team no. 4/2019

New acting Dean of ST and staff meeting on 19 February

Science and Technology’s turnover amounts to almost half of Aarhus University’s total budget, and there is every chance of an increase in this proportion due to the faculty’s significant focus on engineering and digitalisation. The faculty has twice as many employees as at each of the three other faculties, and it spans a wide range of locations and different activities. Rector Brian Bech Nielsen has suggested that the possibility of dividing the faculty in two be considered in connection with the current strategy process,in order to bring management closer to teaching and research and to enable greater academic focus. The rector has therefore just initiated a process, together with the faculty, to explore how best to organise its activities and development.  

Dean Niels Christian Nielsen has announced that he will be resigning and returning to research as of 15 February – six months before his contract expires. He wants to resume his academic activities in the field of NMR on a full-time basis, in connection with his professorship at the Department of Chemistry and iNANO. 

“I would like to thank Niels Christian for all his hard work as the dean of ST for almost six years now. Niels Christian and his strong ambitions have provided vital impetus for the development of ST. I can only respect his decision to resign now, before we begin the process of defining the future faculty structure at ST,” says Brian Bech Nielsen. 

Lars Henrik Andersen, former head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will be taking over as acting dean and will therefore be leading the faculty through the coming process.

“There’s tremendous respect for Lars, both as a scientist and as a leader. He has deep insight into the faculty, and he can handle the job of clarifying a possible split-up of the faculty. Now we’ll get started on planning local meetings so that we can learn what the employees in the individual centres and departments think about the possibility of splitting up Science and Technology,” says the rector. 

The first step will be a staff meeting between 2.30pm and 3.30pm on 19 February in the Main Hall, where Rector Bech Nielsen and Acting Dean Andersen will meet with Science and Technology staff to present their reasons for the proposal to split up the faculty and to discuss the coming process leading up to the development of a proposal.

Stronger partnership with King’s College London

Last week, the senior management team held discussions with representatives from King’s College London (KCL), including KCL President and Principal Edward Byrne, with regard to expanding collaboration between the two universities.

There is currently cooperation between the two universities in a number of fields, but there are requests from both sides concerning expansion of the cooperation. At the end of 2018, the two universities took the first step towards a closer partnership when they signed the agreement relating to a new international university alliance together with UCLouvain, Paris Diderot University, Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Oslo.

With their meeting here at Aarhus University a couple of weeks ago, the two universities have taken their discussions on closer cooperation a step further. The university alliance is specifically designed to allow closer cooperation in education, but KCL and AU are both perceiving advantages when it comes to developing cooperation in the field of research as well. 

The following KCL delegates attended the meeting:

  • Edward Byrne, President and Principal
  • Funmi Olonisakin, Vice-Principal International
  • Tania Lima, Director Global Engagement
  • Eleanor Salt, Partnerships Manager
  • Anna Wood, Director of King’s Online Programme

The deans will now be continuing bilateral discussions within their professional specialisations. 

New initiative provides support base for talent at Aarhus University

Last week, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science launched a proposal which will see investment of DKK 190 million in ensuring talent in higher education degree programmes over the next four years. Pro-rector Berit Eika is very pleased about this, and points out that Aarhus University has been working for a number of years on developing special offers for the most talented and motivated students. 

The proposal, which follows in the wake of the Government’s Disruption Council, refers to the possibility of applying for funding to develop talent-related activities for university students, but also for particularly talented students at secondary schools. 

How can we improve the gender balance among researchers at Aarhus University?

On 8 March, the Committee for Research and External Cooperation (UFFE) will be holding a full-day conference on gender balance among researchers at Aarhus University.

This requires us to hire the most competent staff and create attractive research environments that will appeal to both men and women, in order to fulfil the most important task – to offer ground-breaking basic research and excellent teaching. The purpose of the conference to be held on 8 March, therefore, is to discuss the current gender balance challenges at AU so that all talents are brought into play, as well as developing specific ideas on how we can work towards achieving a better gender balance among researchers. 

The conference programme has now been finalised, and among the speakers is Rector Brian Bech Nielsen, Per Holten Andersen, soon-to-be former rector of CBS, and Lynn Roseberry, who has been working in this field as a researcher, lawyer and adviser for a number of years.

There will be four faculty-specific sessions in the afternoon, debating how gender balance issues can be handled at the respective faculties. The conference will conclude with Friday drinks and a concert featuring rock band Velvet Volume.

The conference language will be English, and journalist Lone Frank will be in charge of the proceedings. The registration deadline is 26 February.

Increase awareness of your research – join the Festival of Research

On Wednesday, 24 April, up to a thousand people will be visiting Aarhus University to get a taste of our research. You can join in too – either by giving a speed lecture on your research in one of the rooms at Stakladen, or by having a stand inside Stakladen and presenting experiments or other activities that involve onlookers. All academic staff from all faculties are welcome to contribute lectures and activities, and the Festival of Research is an excellent opportunity to increase awareness of your research.

The Festival of Research is a nationwide knowledge festival that takes place each year in late April (week 17), with over 700 events and more than 70,000 visitors. The Festival of Research was established by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, and one of the goals of the festival is to celebrate the fundamental dimension of curiosity in research and to create more relationships between researchers and society. 

Meet AU researchers at the Festival of the Century on 1-10 March 

On 1-10 March, the Danish University Extension will be holding the Festival of the Century and looking at the inter-war period between 1918 and 1939: the age of isms, crises and mass culture. Meet AU researchers, artists and people who are passionate about creativity, and visit philosophy bars, city tours, shows, exhibitions and dinners focusing on the history of food.


The Senior Management Team publishes a weekly newsletter. This includes details of decisions and initiatives from the Senior Management Team, plus current activities and discussions.