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New rector: Visits provided important input

On 6 August, Brian Bech Nielsen took up his position as the new rector of Aarhus University. Before the summer holidays however, he made a point of visiting the university's various units.

2013.08.09 | Presseenheden

Outgoing rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen wished Brian Bech Nielsen every success as rector of Aarhus University. Photo: Lars Kruse

On 6 March 2013, the Board appointed the Dean of Science and Technology, Professor Brian Bech Nielsen, Aarhus University's new rector for a six-year term. Since being appointed, Brian Bech Nielsen has – while continuing his work as dean at ST – spent his time up until the summer holidays visiting all of the university's departments and administrative units.

"I went out of my way to meet as many members of staff as possible before taking up the appointment to get an idea of how we stand now and the employees' expectations for the future. Which developments do they see as being positive for the university? And where do they see a need for changes," says Brian Bech Nielsen, who has been a dean and a member of the senior management team since 2011.

On the basis of input from staff and his discussions with the rest of the management, during the autumn Brian Bech Nielsen will report on how he views the future development of the university. 

"I welcome a free and open debate. And I have had some really good meetings with the employees which I will now carefully consider and discuss with the rest of the senior management team. I feel that our organisation definitely needs a 'health check', and I now have a lot of useful input to contribute. The academic development process was, of course, a necessary organisational step for Aarhus University – given the strengths and possibilities and the considerable academic breadth which the university now has after the mergers."

The discussions during his visits have, among other things, centred on how the administrative functions are organised, communication between administration and the departments and centres, how the four committees are organised, contact with the management and, last but not least, the problems stemming in particular from implementing new administrative systems and shared platforms.

"I won't conceal the fact that we have a big and very important task ahead of us in solving the remaining problems. However, we must also acknowledge the size and complexity of the task which the development process has been and still is. And, not least, what it will take to implement new administrative systems and shared platforms in such a large organisation as AU," says Brian Bech Nielsen.

Brian Bech Nielsen is focusing in particular on getting the university spirit to soar.

"During a long period with extensive changes we have been focusing on optimising our organisation and streamlining administrative support to ensure the best possible framework for our core activities – research, talent development, knowledge exchange and education. However, we must not forget that the university's strength depends entirely on the individual employee's passion and drive. Curiosity, taking a critical approach and being absorbed in your work are our life blood, and thankfully are still present despite all the challenges," says Brian Bech Nielsen.

Earlier in the year, Aarhus University's strategy for the period up until 2020 fell into place; it sets a clear direction for the university with specially selected strategic priorities and focus areas, says the newly appointed rector.

He is delighted that, in the near future, the university will be welcoming more than 7,000 new undergraduate students.  

"At the end of the day, educating new Bachelor's and Master's degree graduates and PhDs is our most important task, and the quality of the degree programmes is of vital importance for both society and the university."


An inaugural reception will be held for Brian Bech Nielsen on Friday 13 September in connection with the Annual Celebration.

Policy and strategy, Academic staff, All AU units, Aarhus University, Technical / administrative staff, Public/Media, Students