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Humanities faculty finds new dean – at the Faculty of Theology

Transfer — Incumbent humanities dean Jesper Kallestrup will be »relieved of his duties« by the end of May. Kirsten Busch Nielsen from the Faculty of Theology is to be in charge of setting up a completely new management team for the humanities.

The position as dean of the Faculty of Humanities has been vacant since Jesper Kallestrup announced his resignation after just two years in the job. Now his replacement has been found.

Kirsten Busch Nielsen will be the new woman in the dean’s seat, and she won’t have to move too far to her new office. She comes from a position as Dean of the Faculty of Theology, which is also housed on South Campus.


Born 1962

Employed at Faculty of Theology since 1995 as assistant professor, associate professor and now Professor in Dogmatics and Ecumenical Theology.

Head of Department (1999-02), Head of Studies (2002-10), Associate Dean (2011-2013) and Dean since 2013.

Her appointment will be temporary at first. Kirsten Busch Nielsen will take over 1 June and will hold the position until a new dean is hired, something that is expected to happen in spring 2021.


»It is appealing to me to become part of a faculty that helps take on responsibility for society’s cultural and historical life. This is an extremely important task. No society can live without this life. I see this as a very important part of being employed in the humanities at university« says Kirsten Busch Nielsen.

Kallestrup relieved of duties

At the same time as his appointment, the incumbent dean Jesper Kallestrup will be »relieved of his duties« at the end of May, after which he is to carry out »a strategic task« for the rector before leaving the university on 31 July. This can be seen in a news item from management on the University of Copenhagen’s intranet.

The new appointment is part of a fundamental reshuffle in the Faculty of Humanities’ management. In the news release, the University of Copenhagen writes that Kirsten Busch Nielsen is to »sit at the table,« when new associate deans for education and research – as well as a new faculty director – are to be hired. Busch Nielsen will thereby be able to influence the faculty’s development for several upcoming years, even if she does not continue in the position permanently.

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Rector has initially chosen to extend the appointments of the faculty’s current associate dean for education Jens Erik Mogensen and the faculty director Kristian Boye Petersen, so that they stay until 1 May 2021.

In the wake of the blockade

The Faculty of Humanities has in recent years gone through several rounds of cuts and internal unrest. When students at the end of 2019 blockaded the dean’s office corridors in protest at the prospect of study programme mergers at the end of 2019, they got national media coverage.

I am one of the people that reckons that it makes sense to have students taking part in a discussion over what the university should do, and what the different subjects should do …

Dean Kirsten Busch Nielsen, Faculty of Theology

The blockade ended after students accepted two agreements, including a preliminary agreement on cooperation that safeguards the involvement of students and staff.

Kirsten Busch Nielsen will be dean of the Faculty of Humanities while work on the new target plan is in its crucial phase.

»I don’t know the blockade story from the inside. These were exceptional circumstances. I am one of the people that reckons that it makes sense to have students taking part in a discussion over what the university should do, and what the different subjects should do. Fortunately there are good formal frameworks for them to take their share of the responsibility,« says Kirsten Busch Nielsen.

READ ALSO: Two years was enough. Dean quits Faculty of Humanities. Management team up for replacement

»This framework has to be filled out with good informal contacts and a spirit of cooperation where you reach out to each other, and try to understand what goes wrong when you can’t reach each other.«

The new dean has not yet commented on the content of the target plan:

»Things have happened fast. I see it as me going into a piece of work that has already been started and that needs to be continued. And right now we just need to get to know each other,« she says.

Kirsten Busch Nielsen has been dean at the Faculty of Theology since 2013, and before that she was associate dean there from 2011 to 2013.

She has helped solve politically challenging problems in the past. As chairman of the University of Copenhagen’s Committee on Personnel Policy, she played a key role in a review of the harassment guidelines, which had been a source of heated debate in the media.

On the university intranet, Rector Henrik C. Wegener says that he is pleased that Kirsten Busch Nielsen has agreed to step in as dean at short notice:

»Kirsten is a strong, competent and experienced manager, and she is the right person to ensure the continued development of the research, education and administration.«

Translated by Mike Young