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The Danish Queen, university management, Swiss, American and Canadian academics, and plenty of Danish doctors-to-be were at the annual celebration of the University of Copenhagen - all as suavely dressed as the roast beef canapés
Thursday 12 November marked the 530th annual Commemoration Ceremony for the University of Copenhagen (U of C). The University had invited more than 700 guests from in- and outside the University, representative of the staff, students, funds, ministries and research councils, as well as prize winners, appointed doctors and this year’s honorary doctors.
This reporter from the University Post felt very under-dressed for the occasion, shuffling nervously among suits and ties and long jackets, in the aptly named Ceremonial Hall on Frue Plads. Her Majesty Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark arrived with the full Robin Hood-style trumpet fanfare and a standing ovation.
The intro speech, by Chairman of the Board at the U of C, Nils Strandberg Pedersen, praised an increase in external funding, but stressed that this and money just delegated to the University from the so-called globalisation fund would not be enough in just a few years time.
Although the U of C has a fine ranking in the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings for 2009, there is still a long way to the top, and that climb can only be made with ropes of solid gold. Or rather, with the aid of money.
Further funding is needed if the U of C is to hope to match the American top universities, Pedersen emphasised.
Next up was Rector Ralf Hemmingsen, who focussed on 1989, and how educating people can help regain the hope and trust that was so present when the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago.
He was followed by the head of the Student Union, Mattias Friis Jørgensen, who amiably reminded the older members of the audience that going to university today was much like when they first set foot on campus. The same joys, but also the same concerns.
»Maybe you also remember the challenges of being a student – that then, as now, you had to fight to find a room or a flat,« said Jørgensen.
In response to recent suggestions to cut back on student funding he added: »I doubt you all remember how it was when you first set foot at the U of C.«
The Celebration Lecture was by Swiss economist Jean-Robert Tyran of the U of C, who may not have spoken about the most festive topic during a financial crisis, but on a positive note said that U of C experiments in ‘social capital’ had proven that sharing had no correlation whatsoever with intelligence.
In other words, being generous does not make you stupid.
Among the seven academics to receive honorary doctorates from the U of C, was environmentalist Jane Lubchenco of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a close adviser of Barack Obama.
During the ceremony, she was described as »one of the pioneers of sustainable science, on which we ought to be pinning our hopes in the future.«
The Teacher of the Year award, as elected by students and staff, went to Jan H. Christensen of the Department of Basic Sciences and Environment, for inspiring and exceptional teaching. The award was true to tradition presented in the form of a clay owl and a prize of DKK 25,000.
»My standpoint is that all students are geniuses until proven otherwise.« said Christensen to our Danish sister-site Universitetsavisen.
The Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies (ToRS) was presented with the first ever International Study Environment Award, for their international activities and for improving international relations.
It was a very happy-looking Marie Højlund Roesgaard of ToRS that received the DKK 100,000 award on behalf of the department.
The entire Commemoration was interspersed with choir song in both Danish and Swedish, as well as English , and the Ceremony itself ended in an exit to another round of a Robin Hood fanfare, to the reception where drinks and canapés worth an article in their own right awaited the guests.