26 August 2016

The University of Copenhagen seeks a new Rector


After almost 12 years, Ralf Hemmingsen will retire from his post as Rector of the University of Copenhagen as per 28 February 2017. Therefore, the university is now seeking a new Rector to carry on the development of one of Europe's leading universities.

The position will be posted internationally in order to invite as broad a range of applicants as possible. 

The University Board will recruit and appoint the new Rector. Chairman Nils Strandberg Pedersen says that the retiring Rector is leaving a university he can be proud of.

“Ralf Hemmingsen has been in charge during a time when the university has developed so remarkably as an internationally oriented research and educational institution that we are now one of Europe's leading universities. From the Board we would like to express our great appreciation of the work Ralf Hemmingsen has done for research and education in Denmark.”

Mergers and modernisation

After 12 years as Rector, Ralf Hemmingsen leaves distinctive footprints on the University of Copenhagen. A campus plan has gathered the university at four campuses and made building use more efficient. At the same time, new and modern research facilities have been established: The KUA building on Amager, the Mærsk building on Blegdamsvej and the Niels Bohr building along Jagtvej. Large institutions such as the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University and the University of Pharmaceutical Sciences have been successfully merged with the university and are now an integral part of its six faculties.

Internationalisation and quality of education

Every fourth researcher at the University of Copenhagen now comes from abroad, many of them from world class research, while 6,000 students have an international background. The university has launched several programmes aimed at strengthening the quality of education, the study environment and feedback initiatives as well as the introduction of a minimum number of teaching hours on the study programmes. And, as one of Ralf Hemmingsen's key issues, the university has launched two comprehensive action plans to increase the share of talented female researchers.

Internally, Hemmingsen has been at the helm at a time when the management structure at the entire University of Copenhagen has gone from elected to recruited managers resulting in a professionalisation of administration and communication.

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The university went through extensive cutbacks in 2010 and at the beginning of 2016, when the administration, among other units, was trimmed and digitised. During Hemmingsen’s tenure, the number of researchers, postdocs and PhDs has doubled with more than 3,000 new employees, which means that academic staff now represents close to 60% of the university's employees against a little under 50% in 2005.

At the same time, the university has prioritised its own funds for academic projects while several specific programmes have supported the most talented researchers with a total of around DKK 800 million. Among other things, this has paved the way for a new centre for plant research, several basic research centres such as the Centre for GeoGenetics and the Centre for Synthetic Biology along with grants from the European Research Council.

After retiring as Rector, Ralf Hemmingsen will be reinstated in his former position as Professor of Psychiatry at the Department of Clinical Medicine, an office he held until appointed Dean in 2002 and Rector in 2005.

The new Rector is expected to be recruited for a set number of years. The deadline for applications is 25 September 2016. Who the new rector is will be decided and announced at the beginning of November.