16 November 2018

Annual commemoration with loving regards to 1968

Annual commemoration

50 years ago, the student rebellion put a permanent mark on the University of Copenhagen – and on the way in which universities are run in Denmark. This was celebrated at the annual commemoration held on 16 November. At the ceremony, the Teaching Award, Innovation Award and Study Environment Award were all handed out.

“Why are the students not allowed to speak at the annual commemoration at their own University. [...] This would not have happened, had we not taken matters into our own hands in quite an unexpected way.”

Those were the opening words of psychology student Finn Ejnar Madsen’s speech, when he, with the help of 50 fellow protesters, took over the rostrum during the 1968 annual commemoration at the University of Copenhagen. The University's Rector at the time, Mogens Fog, forgave Finn Ejnar Madsen and allowed him three minutes to speak (for link to video recording of the event, see fact box).

Rector embraces students

Rector on the rostrum
Rector Henrik C. Wegener on the rostrup. Photo: Nikolai Linares.

At today’s annual commemoration, the students did not need to fight for access to the rostrum. Nowadays, the Student Council Chairperson is a natural speaker at the annual celebration – right after the Rector's speech. But with loving regards to the student rebellion in 1968, Rector Henrik C. Wegener stepped down from the podium and invited Student Council Chairperson Amanda Büchert to speak before continuing his own speech:

“To expect the unexpected is always the University's perspective, because we know that all knowledge is temporary. The ‘least bad’ description of reality applies – until something new is discovered. And society must be prepared to accept inconvenient truths, even though they do not match the right answers,” Rector Henrik C. Wegener said, with reference to the protesting students in 1968.

Students demonstrating in Rector's office
Students demonstrating against the Government's two-percent cutbacks on education in Rector's office. Photo: Henrik Korzen.

Even though the students achieved what they fought for in 1968, there are still new battles to be won. Students from the Faculty of Humanities demonstrated in front of the entrance to the Ceremonial Hall during the arrival of the Minister and other guests for the annual commemoration. Under the heading "Stop cutting - Start investing", they criticised the Government's two-percent cutbacks on education. Later, when the commemoration had begun, they briefly occupied the Rector's office.

Today's happening did not prevent the Rector from proceeding with the annual celebration as planned: This year’s Teacher Award, Innovation Award and Study Environment Award were handed out. Honorary doctorates and doctorates were conferred. And students who had submitted prize papers received their well-deserved gold or silver medal.

See video presentation of the winners of the Teacher of the Year Award, the Innovation Prize and the Student Environment Award.

Teacher of the Year Award: Professor with passion and extensive knowledge

Professor MSO Andreas Bloch Ehlers from the Faculty of Law receives this year’s Teacher of the Year award. Andreas Bloch Ehlers teaches a 'Compensation and contract' course and he receives the award for his interactive and lively teaching and for creating a very unique learning environment. The classroom is fully booked when Andreas teaches and students from other classes are pouring in to participate in his courses, it says in the recommendation.

Innovation Prize: Botanist develops app that saves vulnerable ecosystems

Senior researcher Ida Theilade from the Department of Food and Resource Economics receives this year's Innovation Prize for the initiative "It's Our Forest Too". Together with students, NGOs and an IT company, she has developed an app that helps local forest patrols document and prevent illegal logging in Cambodia. The initiative has shown that local populations can play an important role in monitoring and protecting the environment.

Study Environment Award: Pusterummet prevents stress among medical students

Pusterummet is a student-driven association that organises thematic events, monthly get-togethers and a mentor scheme in an attempt to create 'breaks ' for students at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. The aim is to increase well-being by openly talking about stress, performance requirements and other challenges that students encounter.


Communications Adviser Christian Hedegaard
Tel.: + 45 31 14 87 82
Email: ch@adm.ku.dk