News from the Senior Management Team

follow-up on the academic development process

The senior management team is now launching a follow-up on the academic development process. This will involve both changes in how the university’s activities are managed and a concrete analyses of problems.

At its most recent meeting, the Board adopted proposals regarding follow-up on the academic development process. On Wednesday 13 November - the date that marks Brian Bech Nielsen’s 100th day as rector - he presented his plans for Aarhus University's overall management.

The aim of the follow-up initiatives is to define and address the significant problems that the university still faces.


Internal problem analysis

An internal problem analysis will be made to identify the most significant problems related to administrative support for the work of the departments and the current structure of the main academic areas.  The analysis will begin as quickly as possible. The analysis will involve relevant employees and bodies and will be coordinated with the psychological WPA follow-up that is already in process.

The senior management team will appoint an analysis panel that will have overall responsibility for the process. Members will be nominated by the academic councils, the Main Liaison Committee, students and the administration. Together, the senior management team and the panel will agree on the mandate for the analysis, which will be performed by a internal group of experts appointed by the panel and the senior management group.

On the basis of the analysis and the panel's comments on it, the senior management team will write a draft decision-making proposal that will be sent out for internal consultation and then submitted for approval in June 2014. Current efforts to solve obvious problems with systems support will continue alongside the analysis process.


A Pro-Rector for Education

The area of education requires considerable leadership focus, both internally and externally. In recognition of this, the focus of the position of pro-rector will now be redirected from knowledge dissemination to education. The position of Pro-Rector for Education will be advertised as soon as possible to be filled as of June 214. At the same time, the current pro-rector will take up a new position as special adviser with a focus on the university's efforts in relation to EU.


The organisation and management of the core activity committees (de tværgående bånd)

The core activity committees will be restructured and simplified. In future, there will be two committees. Their working titles are ‘Research’ and ‘Education’.  The tasks and responsibilities of the two new core activity committees will be discussed with the four existing core activity committees and forums.

Focus on the four core activities identified in the university’s strategy - research, education, talent development and knowledge exchange - will be maintained and included in the work of the two new committees.

The inclusion of the deans in the senior management team is crucial to ensuring the coherence of the university. However, the WPA made it clear that the main academic areas need closer contact to their own upper management. To make this possible, the deans must be able to devote more time to an even deeper engagement in the work taking place at their main academic areas. Therefore, the deans will be released from the day-to-day tasks in the core activity committees.

That the deans continue to contribute at a pan-university level is extremely important to ensure the coherence of the university, so they will be given responsibility for AU-wide projects of particular strategic significance that require the direct involvement of the senior management team. Each dean will appoint two representatives from upper management (for example, the vice-deans) to each of the new core activity committees, while the main academic areas will be represented on the committees directly.

The rector will head the committee for research, and the pro-rector for education will head the committee for education. A vice-dean will be appointed deputy either for the rector or the pro-rector for each core activity committee. The deputy will assist the rector and the pro-rector in directing the work of the committees. The new structure will come into effect in late May 2014.

As of the end of May 2014, relevant national centres and departments will be entirely responsible for public sector consultancy under the direction of the appropriate main academic area’s dean, who will ensure that this work is anchored in the senior management team.


The next steps in the process

The follow-up is aimed at ensuring that the university is able to achieve its academic goals and that it continues to produce degree programmes and research of the highest quality. In addition, the psychological WPA in the spring of 2013 made it evident that it is necessary to focus on involvement and dialogue between management and staff is necessary.  Staff and students will therefore be involved in the follow-up process to a considerable extent.

The senior management team will now initiate the processes involved in the follow-up and will involve the academic councils, the Main Liaison Committee, the student body, the administration and other relevant collegial and managerial bodies in accordance with the project plan.

The Board emphasised the necessity of ensuring that each of the four strategic focus areas continues to be weighted appropriately when the existing four core activity committees are merged into two.