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People — It is partly due to disagreements with the Rector of the University of Copenhagen Henrik C. Wegener.
»Soccer players and deans have one thing in common, the expiry of their contracts. My contract runs out this spring«.
The Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen writes in a LinkedIn post that he will step down in the spring of 2024, and thereby not seek an expected three year extension.
It is partly due to substantial disagreements between him and the rector of the University of Copenhagen, Henrik C. Wegener, he writes.
Such disagreements, over values and over the way forward, between a dean and a rector are untenable.
Dean Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen
»It is no secret that the Faculty of Social Sciences faces a number of challenges in the coming years. The university has to go through a major round of cutbacks, the faculty has to relocate from the [central, ed.] old municipal hospital buildings to [South Campus, ed.] Amager, and we need to implement a completely new reform of education. And it’s no secret that the rector and I haven’t agreed on how we see the challenges and the choices that need to be made in this respect,« says Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen and continues:
»A disagreement like this, over values, and over the way forward, between a dean and a rector are untenable. And this disagreement can only result in me stopping when my contract expires in the spring.«
The dean writes that, in the period leading up to his departure, he will focus on passing on a faculty that is »in good order.«
Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen’s time as dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences has not been without conflict.
After a number of years as head of the Department of Political Science, he was appointed dean of the faculty in 2019.
In 2022, a workplace assessment showed that less than one third of the employees at the Faculty had confidence in the dean’s management of the faculty. 41 per cent of employees replied directly that they had no confidence in the dean’s management.
The workplace assessment came during a round of layoffs, where ten employees were dismissed, while ten others chose to leave voluntarily. Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen said then, in a news item on the faculty intranet, that dissatisfaction with management was expected and that it was a »healthy reaction to the changes in the organisation«.
In the autumn of 2022, Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen chose to appoint himself as Head of the Department of Anthropology when the former department head Bjarke Oxlund resigned from the post.
Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen had cut the Department of Anthropology substantially, and the dean believed that the problems at the department had become so substantial that only he himself could solve them.
»An open rebuke of the department’s management and academics,« Associate Professor Heiko Henderson, chair of the study board at Anthropology said at the time in a featured comment on the University Post with the heading »The Dean of Social Science has gone completely nuts«.
Shortly after appointing himself head of the Department of Anthropology, Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen chose to withdraw.
»If I had known how surprised and concerned the staff would be, I would not have proposed it. This has turned out to be the world’s worst idea,« the dean said at a dialogue meeting organised by students.
By November 2022 students had had enough of the conflict and the unrest at their faculty.
A large group of students from many different social science degree programmes showed up in front of the traditional annual celebration at Frue Plads, with banners that included »Give Mikkel Vedby the sack«, »Reinstate democracy,” and »Stop Mikkel’s tyranny, set CSS campus free.«
The students accused the dean of top-down management at the faculty, and of having a patronising attitude towards both students and staff.
In fact, I will also miss the moments of trouble and disagreement. This is the heart of the university.
Dean Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen
»We all feel that there are problems with Mikkel Vedby’s management style and the way he speaks to students and researchers,« anthropology student Amalie Vestergaard said at the time.
Something »seriously amiss at the faculty,« a number of students wrote to the media Politiken in December 2022 (login required).
»Arrogance, insane decisions, bad management and lecturers that almost tremble with fear at the sight of their boss. This is daily life at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Copenhagen,« the students wrote.
In Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen’s farewell post, he gives thanks to those who co-operated and those who resisted during his time as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.
»I will both miss the community in the faculty management and in the faculty. In fact, I will also miss the moments of trouble and disagreement. This is the heart of the university,« he writes.