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University of Copenhagen
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Rector takes quarter million pay cut - keeps severance, perks

[From Danish site] Rector Ralf Hemmingsen must accept a significant pay cut on his new contract. But he is awarded a generous severance pay, and will subsequently remain employed as a professor at the University. He also receives a free newspaper, cell phone, and mobile connectivity

It’s never fortunate to be knocked down DKK 260,000 in annual salary – but, if you still earn over DKK 2 million, and will have a total severance payment of DKK 1 million, it doesn’t seem too harsh.

Ralf Hemmingsen, Rector of the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) has certainly not complained publicly about his new contract, which comes into effect on 1 November this year, when the current agreement expires.

Today, he earns DKK 1,982,032 annually, including pension, but it will be reduced to DKK 1,722,083 according to the contract, which Danish-language site was able to gain access to.

According to Nils Strandberg Pedersen, Chairman of the University Board who appoints the Rector, it is the government that sets wage levels.

One million in severance

In return, Ralf Hemmingsen is paid DKK 615,315 in severance at the end of October 2013, although he still retains his position as Rector.

When his new contract expires at the end of February 2017, he will be 67 years old, and will be paid an additional DKK 434,432 in compensation when he returns to a temporary position as a professor. This will expire when he reaches 70 years.
These allowances were criticized in Danish newspaper Politiken, where Professor Flemming Ibsen from the Department of Political Science at Aalborg University called it ‘absurd theatrics’.

Besides the Rector, one director and one associate dean, and three department heads, have also received severance payments totaling DKK 1.5 million in 2011/2012, although they were reinstated in their management position at the University, according to documents.

An end to premiums

On the recommendation of the Rector, and the approval of the University’s Board of Directors at its meeting on 29 May, there will be a new model. It states that managers at Department, Dean and Rector level in the future can either get a risk premium in the form of severance pay, or job security in the form of a decline in position. It must be either/or, and not both.

Kirsten Busch Nielsen, who takes over as Dean of the Faculty of Theology 1 July, is one of the first employees under this new model, and will receive the right to return to the post of professor, but no right to severance pay.

The University’s policy is now in line with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Aarhus University.

Rector retains severance

The new rules will not, however, apply to the Rector, said Nils Strandberg Pedersen.

“We can not start to restructure a contract that is already concluded, and that is completely within the regulations. You must look at the total compensation package when you need to assess whether the contract is reasonable. I think, absolutely, it is, so we stand by the agreement that we have made,” said the chairman.

Nils Strandberg Pedersen suggests that it may be necessary to offer a severance payment, because someone in a strong leadership position would otherwise be forced to search for a new job at least one year before contract expiry. This could create internal conflict and turmoil.

It can also be considered as a kind of retention bonus, says Pedersen.

Nils Strandberg Pedersen further points out that the Rector is going to experience a significant pay cut when he returns to a temporary professorship, which will also end a few months after his 70th birthday.

Perks of the job

Interestingly, the Rector’s new contract is also more detailed than the last.

He will also be offered a free mobile connection, a mobile phone and PC at his disposal, and a newspaper of his choice.

Which newspaper he has chosen is still unknown.

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