News from the senior management team no.3/2020

Welcome to the new dean of Natural Sciences

After a thorough appointment process, Aarhus University has selected Kristian Pedersen, professor in space science, as the new dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. He arrives from a position as the director of DTU Space, before which he served as the director of the Space Science Center at the University of Copenhagen. 

New department head for the Department of Law

Professor Torsten Iversen is the new head of the Department of Law. He will take up the position on 1 March 2020.

New educational IT projects launched 

The year kicked off for AU with the prospect of even more experiments with digital learning technologies in teaching. A total of 19 projects have received part of the more than DKK 2.5 million (EUR 0.33 million) allocated to educational IT projects in 2020 by the Education Committee. This is the third time that the funds are being allocated as part of the university's overall educational IT initiative. Pro-Rector Berit Eika, who is heading the initiative, is pleased with the development.

University rent scheme in focus

In recent weeks, the Danish broadcaster, DR, has brought several reports about the universities' rent scheme. The scheme has been described as problematic, among other things because, in a number of cases, universities have been charged a much higher rent for new buildings. This spurs a need to review the scheme, according to University Director Arnold Boon. Universities have no responsibility for the construction process – this lies with the Danish Building and Property Agency. Therefore, universities have no influence on whether construction budgets are held. Higher rents mean less money for research and education. For this reason, the universities should be more involved in the building process for complex buildings. 

On 28 January, University Director Arnold Boon took part in a feature in the television news in which he described the process for the Skou Building, which ended up two years late and DKK 185 million (EUR 25 Million) over budget. The feature starts after nine minutes and 48 seconds.

Furthermore, last year the Danish government received just over DKK 0.5 bn. from the universities in rents. This figure has increased from DKK 165 million (EUR 22 million) in 2007 to DKK 568 million (EUR 75 million) in 2019. The rents are returned to the government from university grants, which are otherwise earmarked to secure Denmark the highest quality research and education. Moreover, the rents paid are still included as research investments and therefore are also included when calculating whether Denmark is meeting its goal of investing 1 per cent of GDP in research.

Three focus areas in plans for 2020

“In this year's first blog, I would like to single out three areas we will be prioritising in 2020 – the first year under AU's new strategy.” This is how Arnold Boon starts his January blog.

The university director also launches a new series of articles with focus on successes in operational tasks carried out in different corners of the administration. Read this month's article on the reduction of the IT debt.

Electoral expert Jørgen Elklit rounds off his 50-year career

After celebrating 50 years as a researcher, Jørgen Elklit has retired as a professor at Aarhus University. However, the internationally recognised electoral expert and adviser for fledging democracies, and democracies affected by conflict will continue to share his knowledge in research and dissemination projects.

Join the Festival of Research and make your research more visible

Aarhus University has invited the general public to see samples of our research on Wednesday 22 April from 14:00 to 18:00. As a researcher, you can join in too – either by giving a speed lecture on your research in one of the rooms around Stakladen, or by having a stand inside Stakladen and presenting experiments or other activities that involve onlookers. Researchers from all faculties are welcome to contribute activities, and the Festival of Research is an excellent opportunity to present your research to a broader audience.

The Festival of Research is an annual nationwide knowledge festival with about 700 events and lectures, and more than 70,000 visitors. In 2020, the festival will take place from 20-26 April.

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.