University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Media: Rector threatened critic with dismissal

University of Copenhagen managers tried to attach responsibility to a critical professor, say media. Rector's office denies charges, saying no 'staff member will be persecuted'

Rector Ralf Hemmingsen has threatened to dismiss one of the scientists who criticised his handling of the Milena Penkowa fraud case.

This is according to reports on Danish news site that are vehemently denied by Rector in a press release and on the external site

According to Politiken, Rector’s threat was against Professor Elisabeth Bock after she put herself at the forefront of a group of 58 top scientists, demanding an independent investigation into the scandal.

Threatened with the sack

Shortly after the 58 scientists called for an independent investigation, the Office of the Rector attempted to make Elisabeth Bock responsible for the misuse of DKK 2 million from the private fund IMK Almene Fond. The private fund’s money was used for lawyers bills, travelling and representation costs instead of research.

»It should be emphasised, that under the existing circumstances, it is not out of the question, that Elisabeth Bocks handling of her profession can lead to employment law steps«, Rector’s head legal consultant wrote to the Dean of Health Sciences Ulla Wewer in an e-mail 7 january.

»For me it is clear that I was to be punished for expressing myself critically about Rector’s handling of the case, and because I helped to collect 58 signatures in support of an independent investigation«, Elisabeth Bock says.

No silencing of critics here

In a press release, Rector Ralf Hemmingsen denies claims that the University of Copenhagen’s management has tried to silence its critics. But Elisabeth Bock did have a role to play in the funding grant from IMK Almene Fond to Penkowa’s research, he says.

»We are doing our best to look into this complex case. As the co-ordinator Elisabeth Bock did have a role to play in connection with the grant of funding. We have to include this in the inquiry into the case. It is an unhappy and unpleasant case for the many people, and the many professional colleagues that, like Elisabeth Bock, have closely co-operated with Penkowa«, says Rector Ralf Hemmingsen.

The press release cites the IMK fund’s grant written conditions: »Elisabeth Bock should ‘help to ensure that the project is carried out, and that the conditions of funding are upheld’.«

Need to get to the bottom of it

Rector adds that no staff members are being persecuted for speaking out on management or University of Copenhagen matters.

»But if the University does not get to the bottom of this case, we would be criticised for not living up to our administrative responsibilities,« he says.

Stay in the know about news and events happening in Copenhagen by signing up for the University Post’s weekly newsletter here.