University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Thybo’s colleagues support their management

Sacked professor Hans Thybo has got support in his fight against University of Copenhagen management from students, from international peers, from within the UCPH Board and from one of the world's leading scientific journals. But his own department colleagues support UCPH management "in all aspects of the department’s activities”

According to Danish news site Berlingske, employees and union representatives at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), the workplace of the sacked Professor Hans Thybo, have sent declarations of support to university management.

There are, according to the University Post’s information, two different declarations – one from the staff representatives who usually in a case of dismissal represent the dismissed – and one from Thybo’s research colleagues at his own department.

It’s about Thybo, but it’s not about Thybo

The Rector’s Office at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) confirms having received two statements in support of IGN’s management, including its handling of the Thybo dismissal. According to Berlingske, the text from the employees’ declaration is the following:

“As a result of the negative press coverage of the sacking of Professor Hans Thybo external criticism has arisen against the management at both department, faculty and UCPH-level,” it says in the declaration of confidence.

“Without being willing to, or able to comment on this specific case, we would like to express our continued confidence in department management and our good cooperation with the Head of Department Claus Beier. This includes all aspects of the Department’s work.”

Department head Claus Beier says he is happy for the support:

“It goes without saying that I of course am happy to notice that employees have confidence in my leadership and the decisions I make.”

Staff rep also in support of management in spite of trade union case

Claus Beier says that all the staff representatives at IGN have signed one of the statements of support.

This includes the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs (DM) ‘s representative, even though DM is currently arguing Hans Thybo’s case against the University of Copenhagen as a case of unfair dismissal.

The union’s representative from DM is Christian J. Bjerrum, and he is an associate professor at IGN. It has not been possible to get his comment on the case and his attitude to the dismissal of Hans Thybo.

But according to the DM chairman, the support shown in this declaration and the case of the dismissal of Hans Thybo should be regarded as two separate things.

“In DM we deal with employment law involved when someone is fired, i.e. whether or not there are legal grounds for dismissal. DM is continuing its employment law case against UCPH management, because we do not believe there are sufficient grounds for a dismissal. We always do this in matters where we believe that the dismissal has been settled without sufficient grounds. We cannot accept an undermining of the security of employment and we always take up cases where we believe the justifications for firing someone have been arbitrary,” writes Camilla Gregersen in an email.

According to Gregersen the declaration from union representatives is about something completely different:

“Namely that the signatories need to distance themselves from the negative publicity that has attached itself to management at their institution. The employees do not address the actual dismissal but only state that they continue to have confidence in their department management. The local union representatives do support, of course, the premise that there needs to be objective grounds for a termination.”

Secret support

The statements in support of management contrast with the criticism by IGN students and the two research elected members of the University Board of the sacking of Hans Thybo and the UCPH justification for it.

It can also be seen as a response to the statement by international researchers that criticized the University’s justifications for firing Thybo. A statement that gathered over 1,300 signatures.

The University Post has contacted staff reps and other staff at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management. But they do not currently wish to discuss the statements of support on the occasion of Thybo’s dismissal or send any statements to the University Post.

They confirm, however, that the statements exist.

The newsroom has been in contact with a researcher from IGN, who reports that he has not seen the declaration of support, but that he knew that one was coming.

According to a source in the Rector’s Office at the University the declaration of support from Thybo’s research colleagues is signed by about 25 people.

The University Post has unsuccessfully tried to get a comment from Hans Thybo, but his lawyer says that he and DM continue to believe that he has been subject to an unfair dismissal.