Rector's Evening speech at the Concert Hall

Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen, rector, Aarhus Universitet

Evening speech at the Concert Hall

Dear minister, dear mayor, dear regional council chairman, dear ambassadors, dear distinguished alumnus, dear honorary doctors, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen,

When Aarhus University celebrates its anniversary, it is a festival day on which, in addition to celebrating the University, we also honour individuals who in one way or another have made some special contribution.

Thus, during the afternoon, we have named the distinguished alumnus of the year.  We have awarded Her Majesty Queen Margrethe's Travel Grant to two talented students from archaeology and political science; and we have presented the Aarhus University Travel Grant.. At the same time, we have honoured both pedagogics and research communication with the award of the Anniversary Foundation's prizes. 

And finally, we have strengthened the University's international academic ties by appointing four new honorary doctors.

 I must also remember to encourage you to visit our website, where you can read more about the principal people in today's celebrations and watch again the celebrations in the Main Hall.


While nearly 500 guests were watching the ceremonies in the Main Hall, several thousand students were engaged in holding the annual Sports Day, and I know that these students are now partying in the University Park. Aarhus University is privileged to have a unique campus environment, and it is wonderful to see how these many students bring to the University Park and the city a very special energy and atmosphere. I am delighted that they in their own way – and all of you assembled here – are joining in the celebration of the University's anniversary.


Here in the two auditoriums of the Concert Hall we are able to welcome around 2,400 guests. We are very pleased that you had the time and inclination to take part today.


Last year we embraced the possibilities opened up by globalisation to the sounds of the Beatles’ “Imagine”. This year, the theme of the evening is "Denmark in the World – the World in Denmark", since we believe that these words beautifully symbolise the fact that Denmark has a huge need for the world, but also that that the world has some need for Denmark.


It is therefore a great pleasure to me to welcome those of our guests who represent the world about us.

When I stood here last year, I was able to announce that the theme of the evening was globalisation, because to be a part of the world and to exchange knowledge beyond Denmark's borders is an essential prerequisite for being a high-quality university. The most important knowledge is – and should be – knowledge that transcends international borders, and it is an important goal of Aarhus University that we should be open to the best brains from the whole world. Perhaps this can be illustrated by the facts that there are people of more than 70 different nationalities among the University staff, and that we have over 4,000 students here from all over the world.


At the same time, we want our cleverest people to go out into the world, create and discover new knowledge, and maybe one day return to Denmark, richer from the experience and even wiser than before.

That is also Denmark in the World – the World in Denmark.

 And sitting right here in front of me is the University's Distinguished Alumnus for 2011, Professor Lene Vestergaard Hau, who is an outstanding example of this. Lene is a graduate of, and has her PhD from, Aarhus University, and now she is a professor at Harvard University. And we know that Lene is happy to come here and share her rich experience and new knowledge with us.


When we say "Denmark in the World – the World in Denmark," we are also saying that we must not be too isolationist in our attitudes. And that is important.


Denmark has need of the world. And therefore we must not be too closed in on ourselves.


 If we do, we will lose the race for the brightest minds and the opportunities the wide world holds.


. Earlier this year, we opened an entire new building at Aarhus University: the Dale T. Mortensen Building, named after Professor Dale T. Mortensen, who received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2010. That building is dedicated to use by international students, and with Dale's C afé, PhD student rooms and flats and with all the administrative services associated with the needs of international students, it functions as a natural gathering-place for the university's international community.

In this way we will ensure that the overseas researchers and students will meet with hospitality and a warm reception, and I can promise that in the years to come will implement other similar initiatives that will help support Aarhus University's reputation as an open, internationally-oriented university.


At Aarhus University we meet the world, and the world meets us, with openness, interest and respect.


With these words, I once again bid you all welcome. I hope that everyone in the Symphony Auditorium and Main Auditorium will enjoy the evening, and I will now give the floor to the band and our host, Vivienne McKee, who will guide us safely through this evening's programme.


Enjoy yourselves! Thank you.