Aarhus University’s annual celebration pays homage to role models

Press releases 2010

Development was the order of the day when Aarhus University celebrated its 82nd anniversary. In keeping with tradition, the annual celebration was also a tribute to some of the university’s extraordinarily clever students, members of staff and closely connected international working partners. Naming the year’s honorary alumnus also took place.


In the midst of a comprehensive development process, Aarhus University took a break to let the tranquillity of tradition fall over the university on Friday 10 September, the day marking its 82nd anniversary.


The annual celebration is a day that pays homage to some of the quite extraordinary people who help ensure the university’s ranking among the best in the world. Prior to presenting the prizes and grants, as well as the appointments of this year’s honorary doctors, Chair of the Board Jens Bigum and Rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen had an opportunity to sum up a year in which a completely new foundation was decided on for Aarhus University. Carrying this out in practice requires special efforts on the part of the members of staff in all areas and at all levels, as Chair of the Board Jens Bigum pointed out.


“It’s not easy to change major organisations. It obviously requires a lot of time and plenty of nautical miles to radically change the course of a supertanker sailing at full speed. However, this seems possible at Aarhus University. It all ties in with the culture. It strikes me time and time again when I’m talking to students and employees that they hold this university in great veneration. This veneration doesn’t mean they haven’t been critical. On the contrary. There’s been great commitment in the process and many requests within the Board as well.”


Jens Bigum’s speech



From Oxford to Stanford

Reforming Aarhus University will reduce or completely remove impediments to development from within. There will be fewer, but larger units, with even more focus on interdisciplinary collaboration cutting across all areas. In concrete terms, this means that the present nine main academic areas will be reduced to four from the end of the year.


In his speech, Rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen put into words the vision on which the reform is based, and which is the most significant in the history of the university:


“This reform is crucial if we are to continue developing from a university with a focus on basic knowledge and education to one that builds on strong academic traditions, and which emphasises knowledge transfer with the society in which we are and will remain an integrated part. In the next few years, Aarhus University will go from being a classical British model in the Oxford tradition to a more extrovert American model in the Stanford tradition. Just as Stanford has been ever since it was founded, Aarhus University is now close-knit with society – especially the innovation incubators. We’ll continue along these lines.”


Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen’s speech

HM Queen Margrethe’s newly established travel grants

As a new innovation at the annual celebration, Aarhus University rewarded two outstanding students with the newly established HM Queen Margrethe II’s travel grants.


When Her Majesty turned 70 earlier this year, the university’s gift naturally reflected the close relationship that exists between the royal family and the university, where both HM Queen Margrethe and HRH Crown Prince Frederik studied. In consultation with the queen, Aarhus University therefore decided to set up a travel grant in her name. The grants will go each year to an Archaeology and a Political Science student – the two subjects studied by HM the Queen.


Speech to the grant recipients


Nils Smedegaard Andersen appointed honorary alumnus 2010

Group Chief Executive Officer Nils Smedegaard Andersen from the A.P. Moller - Maersk Group was named honorary alumnus 2010 at Aarhus University. The university is proud of all its alumni, but would like to pay special recognition to graduates with a completely unique profile and career.


In connection with selecting Nils Smedegaard Andersen, Rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen said:


“As Group CEO of Denmark’s largest company, you’ve led the A.P. Moller - Maersk Group through one of history’s most extensive global crises, and nobody yet knows whether it’s completely over. However, I know that you’ve won – and deserved – considerable respect, not least for these efforts. In your contribution to A.P. Moller - Maersk, and previously as director of Carlsberg, you’ve worked with companies where your quality, consistency, innovation and foresight have strengthened the companies on the global scene. These qualities also carry considerable weight at Aarhus University and, as one of Denmark’s most talented and most important executive leaders, you bring great honour to the university.”


Speech to Nils Smedegaard Andersen

The annual honorary alumnus prize was established in conjunction with Aarhus University’s 80th anniversary, based on a desire to strengthen ties with alumni. The first recipient was HRH Crown Prince Frederik, while last year’s award went to Secretary General of NATO and former Prime Minister of Denmark Anders Fogh Rasmussen.



Model teaching and research communication

It has become a tradition at the university’s annual celebration to honour outstanding teaching and research communication.


The Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation’s Prize of Honour for Pedagogics went this year to Associate Professor Hans Kjeldsen, Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Speech to Hans Kjeldsen


The Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation’s Research Communication Prize of Honour went to Senior Scientist Peter Bondo Christensen, Denmark’s National Environmental Research Institute.

Speech to Peter Bondo Christensen


Seven highly esteemed international honorary doctors

To conclude, Aarhus University formed closer ties with seven highly esteemed international researchers by conferring honorary doctorates at the annual celebration. The title of honorary doctor is conferred on researchers with whom the university is already closely involved, and it helps ensure close connections for Aarhus University with leading international research.





More information

Head of Press Affairs Anders Correll

+45 2899 2235