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Pharma calls meeting, as disputed report breaks

Proposed merger of University of Copenhagen's Chemistry Departments has faculties jockeying for position. Dean Sven Frøkjær has called in Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences' staff and students for a briefing, and students express fears

A report on the organisation of the field of Chemistry now looks to become the centre of a dispute among faculties at the University of Copenhagen.

An international panel concludes that the University of Copenhagen should create a new institute within the planned Niels Bohr Science Park. The Head of Institute should report to the Dean at the Faculty of Science, and that this institute should unite all the University’s Chemistry Departments.

Chemistry is now taught and researched in four different faculties.

All core chemistry disciplines will be included, according to the report recommendations, and so will all staff from the Department of Chemistry, the Faculty of Science; the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Pharma; possibly chemists from other departments at Pharma; and all staff related to chemistry from the Department of Basic Science and Environment, at the Faculty of Life Sciences. Also associated with the new institute will be new appointments and researchers in related fields such as biology, biochemistry, biophysics, plant biotechnology, nano sciences, and health sciences.

Fears that teaching will suffer

Unquoted sources in Pharma have expressed to the Danish Universitetsavisen section of this media that they fear the long-term closure of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences as a consequence, if the report’s conclusions are implemented.

The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science’s, Dean Sven Frøkjær briefed staff and students Friday.

In an open letter, student representatives from the Faculties of Science and Life Sciences recently expressed fears that the merger will adversely affect the teaching environment.

Prorector: Open to discussion

»As it is now, the faculties of Pharma, Science and Life Sciences each have departments with chemistry. We take it for granted that the teachers are better at their own faculty subject areas than in a subject area across all the faculties. A chemistry teacher at the Faculty of Life Sciences will always know the Life students and their subject better than, say, a chemistry teacher at Pharma,« they write.

Prorector Thomas Bjørnholm responded to the open letter on KUnet saying that the goal is to strengthen chemistry.

»Student representatives from Life Sciences and Science have expressed their concerns and wishes in connection to both process and results in a letter to the management,« he says, adding that »it is also very important to Rector and me that we engage in a good process with discussions that involve both students and staff occupied with chemistry.«

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