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Staff, student reps clash with Rector over merger

Soon-to-be-mergered departments are hotbeds of deep staff and student frustration. This is according to staff and student-elected board members of the University of Copenhagen at last week's board meeting. Rector Ralf Hemmingsen, on the other hand, points to a fruitful academic dialogue

Rector Ralf Hemmingsen and the staff/student members of the Board of Directors might as well have come from two different planets. Their perception at the last board meeting on 26 October of how the merger of four faculties has been carried out, was certainly very different, it has emerged.

»Things are proceeding as well as they possibly can,« Rector Ralf Hemmingsen declared at the meeting, adding that the process had been a level-headed, and fruitful academic dialogue.

Niels Kærgård, staff elected board member from the affected Faculty of Life Sciences, disagreed: »It is possible that the discussion contained academic elements, but first and foremost the departments are at war over what academic groups should belong to what departments, in terms of organisation,« he said.

Question is: Should they merge at all?

According to Kærgård there is the widespread impression among staff that they have little influence, and that the draft proposal has already been set in stone.

Ralf Hemmingsen countered that all of the material is available on the University of Copenhagen’s intranet KUnet, and that the rectorate have sent a clear message that everyone has a chance to be heard.

Staff board member Ingrid Kryhlmand said she knows people, who have had their proposals rejected because they did not suit the draft proposal.

Taking the critique one step further, student board member Laura Toftegaard Pedersen said she thought it »unfortunate that management suggested discussing how Science and Life Sciences should function after the merger, and not whether or not they should merge at all«.

A chance to improve

Peter Gæmelke is an external board member. He said that he »believes that it is happening in quite a democratic manner compared to certain private businesses«. Prorector Thomas Bjørnholm added that it is a little too early to get depressed about a serious academic discussion, when it was still possible to change things.

Chairman of the Board of Directors Nils Strandberg Pedersen pointed out to the other members that it was a board in agreement that had originally approved the deans’ draft proposal, based on input from their faculties, on 15 September.

He added that the discontentment was no where near as unanimous as staff and student board members made out. He said that he had also heard staff members pointing out that it was about time that they organised faculties for the better.

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