News from the Senior Management Group no. 30/2011

The 2011 Aarhus University annual celebration

On Friday 9 September, AU celebrated its 83rd anniversary with a ceremony in the Great Hall on the University Park campus in Aarhus. Prizes and honours were awarded to exceptional scholars and students.

2011 Distinguished Alumnus: Dr Lene Vestergaard Hau, Professor, Harvard University

Dr Hau received her PhD from Aarhus University in 1991 and has since gone on to become one of the world's most eminent physicists. At the Harvard laboratory which bears her name, she has performed a series of ground-breaking experiments involving lights, and has succeeded in slowing down and even stopping light completely. Dr Hau has previously been awarded the Rigmor and Carl Holst-Knudsen Award as well as the Ole Rømer Medal, and she is also a MacArthur Fellow.


The Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation prizes

This year's research communication prize went to Klaus Grunert, School of Business and Social Sciences. The prize of honour for pedagogics was awarded to Anne Mette Mørcke, Health.

Dr Grunert, founder and head of MAPP Centre for Customer Relations in the Food Sector, has made a significant contribution to the Danish food sector.

The Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Prize of Honour for Pedagogics was awarded to Associate Professor Anne Mette Mørcke, whose research and activities as director of studies have contributed greatly to the development of the medical programme at AU.


Special recognition of PhD student Dorthe Ravnsbæk

Doctoral student Dorthe Ravnsbæk received special mention in recognition of her achievement in winning the prestigious European Young Researcher's Award from Euroscience earlier this year.


HM Queen Margrethe II's Travel Grants

Two travel grants were awarded to students from the classical archaeology and political science programmes, PhD student Eva Mortensen and MA student Ria Kristin Langbehn.


Honorary doctorates

This year's four honorary doctors were awarded their degrees at the annual celebration. Honorary doctorates were presented to:


Rector Holm-Nielsen's annual celebration speech

'The development process has been comprehensive and open, and staff, students and external experts have contributed constructively. I am deeply grateful to everyone. I am also grateful to the committed, knowledgeable staff members who have expressed doubt and concern during the process. For we share a common passion for knowledge and this university, and an enthusiasm for all of AU's fantastic qualities. We share a respect for traditions and the victories we have won. We share an urgent desire to build our university on a solid foundation - while at the same time ensuring coming generations the freedom to follow their intuition and curiosity as far as their talent will take them.'


Millions on the way for improvements in the study environment

A healthy, positive study environment is a high priority for AU. The university has therefore decided to allocate several million kroner to a wide range of projects aimed at ensuring that students continue to thrive in their degree programmes.

As a consequence of the 2011 study environment survey published earlier this year, eight to ten million kroner have been earmarked for study environment improvements, and 70 out of 103 project proposals have been approved. Funding has been allocated in proportion to the number of students at the individual main academic areas, and some has been allocated to university-wide and cross-faculty projects. The projects which have been selected will be notified this week, so that they can be realised as quickly as possible.

For example, funds have gone to projects which will give the students access to more counselling and feedback, and develop methods for managing their time more effectively. Other projects will investigate whether text messaging can be used to link students who are geographically remote from one another. In addition, there will be trials of e-learning projects and apps for smartphones which will connect students directly with lecturers, as well as initiatives aimed at improving integration of BA and MA degree programmes.

Funding will also go to talks for international students on overcoming loneliness and the lack of a social network and to café meetings offering concrete help on Master's theses. There will be more academic events for individual degree programmes, new mentoring schemes, better reading groups, courses in study technique and exciting excursions and speakers from outside AU.

Aarhus University moves up in QS ranking

AU has moved up five spots on the QS ranking list of the world's best universities, and is now number 79. AU is among the top 100 for the fourth year in a row.

The QS World University Ranking differs significantly from other major rankings in that the list weights subjective factors, such as universities' reputations, very highly. Reputation is measured in part by an international questionnaire survey, in part among randomly chosen researchers from all over the world, and in part among employers. In addition, points are awarded based on the number of citations per researcher and the number of students per lecturer, as well as on the proportion of international researchers and students.

Unlike QS, the Shanghai ranking, which was published in mid-August, is based exclusively on a range of quantitative indicators for research quality, such as the number of citations, publications and prizes.  AU improved its position on this ranking as well, and is now ranked number 86.

The deadline for proposals for new interdisciplinary centres is coming up

The deadline for submission of proposals is 5 October. Proposals should take the form of a short sketch (3-5 pages) which presents the research focus, the type of interdisciplinary collaboration to be engaged in, and the strategy for realising the centre's goals. The senior management group has decided to establish two to four centres on the basis of the proposals submitted in this application process. Grants of up to DK 25 million are available over a five-year period.

All of the proposals submitted will be considered by Dean Brian Bech Nielsen, who has university-wide responsibility for research, and the vice-deans for research from each of the four main academic areas. An application coordinator will be appointed for each of the centre proposals which is selected to progress to the second round of the application process, when a detailed application must be submitted. After an international review early next year, the senior management group will make its final decisions regarding the establishment and funding of the new centres.


Biggest 'study start' fair ever

There was overwhelming interest in the study start fair, which took place from 5 to 7 September in the Main Hall and "Vandrehallen" on the University Park campus. Approximately 10,000 students stopped by for information and special offers realated to degree programmes and student life - 2,000 more than last year.

The study start fair attracted prominent national politicians: Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Minister for Climate and Energy Lykke Friis, former Mayor of Aarhus Nicolai Wammen and incumbent Mayor of Aarhus Jacob B. Johansen.

The Aarhus University Student Council was responsible for arranging the study start fair.



  • 9 September: AU Annual Celebration
  • 13 September: September meeting at Arts
  • 14 September: September meeting at Science and Technology
  • 14 September: September meeting at School of Business and Social Sciences
  • 19/20 September: AU Board meeting and seminar
  • 22 September: September meeting at Health
  • 29 September: Main Liaison Committee meeting


Kind regards

the Senior Management Group

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