Skip to main content
Annual University Celebration

Speech by the Chair of the Board of Directors 2022

Dear Minister, Board, staff and students.
Dear guests and collaboration partners.

It is no secret that my time as Chair at SDU is about to run out.

After almost eight years on the Board and four years as Chair, it is time - according to the Universities Act - to take my leave of SDU's Board.

That is why my speech today is about time. The good times we have had together. The results we have achieved together. And of course the future out there on the horizon.

Time is a strange thing. We talk constantly about time, even though we don't really know what it consists of. Science has come to the conclusion that time is so fundamental to us that it is completely impossible to define.

Yet we humans can certainly figure out how to use it. To the extent, so most people will probably agree with me, that time has become our most scarce resource.

So what characterises our time together at SDU?

For me, it has been a great pleasure. It has been a time of development - both for SDU and for me - and I have been extremely happy in my time as Chair and member of the Board. I have seen it as an honour - of which I am sincerely proud.

From the beginning, I have been incredibly impressed by this fantastic institution spread across five campuses in Southern Denmark. Filled with thousands of talented people and knowledge in all its diversity - of course our Robot success - but examples such as design researchers developing games for inmates and their children in the country's prisons - which I visited in Kolding - and the innovative medical education programme in Esbjerg.

I also got the feeling that we, as a Board and university management, were holding a slightly rough diamond in our hands. A diamond that would really be able to unfold its impressive facets with the right cutting.

So that's what we have focused on in our years at SDU. Polishing the facets of SDU so that the University can truly catch the sunlight for many years to come - and pass it on to the surrounding community.

The time I have to speak doesn't extend to listing all the things we have achieved together. So let me mention just a few of the great headlines:

Next year, New Sund opens, connecting SDU with New OUH. It will be unique on Danish soil, and will create a fantastic framework for research, education and innovation in the field of health.

The government's relocation of education programmes has put a spotlight on ensuring quality education across the country. An agenda that SDU has been working on for several decades and will continue to work on in the coming years, with the launch of a new law education programme in Esbjerg and a new MSc programme in Slagelse.

SDU's new climate centre recently threw open its doors and will ensure that the University contributes to a more sustainable society.

COVID-19 stole our time for over two years, but SDU stood together and handled it all incredibly professionally and inventively. Thank you for that.

Since 2019, we have been working strategically to contribute to sustainable development using the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Always through free, independent and critical research and education.

The 50th anniversary of SDU was celebrated in 2016 with pomp, splendour and 11,000 pieces of cake.

In other words, my time at the SDU has flown. We have achieved a great deal and I hope it has made a difference. But I'll let posterity be the judge of that.

Now, we are standing on the threshold of the future. And equally great tasks lie ahead.

Fortunately, we have an excellent university with the best qualifications for solving them.

Although I'm probably best known for being the Chair of OB, I have often thought of SDU as another super league team. A dream team in which everyone gets on the field and solves their tasks with the utmost skill. SDU has had success with this - continuously and consistently - and probably also slightly better than OB.

It has been a great pleasure to be your Chair. And I would like to thank both the Rectorate, the Executive Board, the Board of Directors, staff - VIP and TAP - and the students for a good time and good collaboration over the years.

I would like to thank my Deputy Chair and skilled wingman Ralf Hemmingsen for a superb collaboration. And a big thank you goes to former Rector Henrik Dam - we were a good team for the first 3 years of my time as Chair - current Rector Jens Ringsmose - you have made a great start in your first year - and Pro-Rector Helle Waagepetersen and University Director Thomas Buchvald for leading SDU with great diligence, skill and rectitude. I'm going to miss you and our collaboration.

And I would just like to stop time for a moment, and - here at the end - sneak in a couple of pieces of advice for those of you who will lead SDU in the future:

Hold on to the virtues of the University, the excellent research and quality education, and don't forget to connect it with the surrounding community.

Keep up the good work with sustainability, in which we have really hit on something. Regardless of where the world community moves in the coming years, the world sustainability goals will be extremely relevant.

And take great care of all of our SDU.

Finally, I want to extend huge congratulations to this year's Honorary Doctors and prizewinners, whom we have also gathered to celebrate today.

Thank you so much for your time, and a very warm welcome to the Annual Celebration 2022.

Last Updated 03.11.2022