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Divisive head of Humanities job confirmed

The acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities Ulf Hedetoft has now been hired as a dean-in-full for a five-year period. His hiring comes after a hectic year of both praise and controversy

Rector Ralf Hemmingsen has confirmed that Ulf Hedetoft, a man with as many retractors as fans judging by media reports, is to be the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Copenhagen.

He will start this May following a one year stint as an acting dean filled with controversy and turbulence.

Hedetoft was quick to act on criticism from the McKinsey Report: The University hires too many people with a background in law, political science and economics, instead of investing in research and teaching, the report stated. Hedetoft immediately changed the administration, so that many hailed him as a ‘man of students and researchers’, according to our Danish-language section Universitetsavisen. But the rapid restructure has led to stress and sickness among staff, and – consequently – dismay among students.

Administrative staff stressed out and unhappy

Several staff members have said privately to Hedetoft’s vocal critic, the administrative staff representative Søren Balsløv Fransén, that changes were forced through dictatorially, without staff involvement, he says.

The Danish Working Environment Authority (DWEA) made an unannounced visit to the Faculty recently, and reported that »staff walk home from work crying«, have »stress symptoms such as heart palpitations«, and that »several staff have difficulty sleeping«. Ulf Hedetoft countered that one of the aims of the restructure was precisely to help solve the problems that the DWEA brought to light.

Students and researchers not stressed out and unhappy

Many have praised Hedetoft for his changes, saying they are in keeping with the spirit of the humanities:

»We are very optimistic and therefore wish to congratulate Ulf Hedetoft on his new position as Dean. During his run as acting Dean, he has instigated education initiatives the likes of which we have not seen for years,« says Philip Longos Winkel, philosophy student and member of the humanities branch of the Student Council, to Universitetsavisen.

Winkel also praises Hedetoft for his »innovative focus on didactics and modes of education.«

Once the problems for the administrative members of staff have been fixed, Hedetoft’s most important and on-going task will be to »increasingly get the public to see the meaning and importance of the humanities,« says Peter Birkelund Andersen, lecturer at ToRS and staff representative, in an interview with Universitetsavisen..

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