AU thanked Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen

People thronged the University Main Hall as employees, students and collaborators from the past eight years said farewell to the outgoing Rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen. Read quotes from the speeches and see the photos from the farewell reception

Michael Christiansen, Chairman of the Aarhus University Board


“When you were appointed, the job advertisement stated that we were looking for candidates with a university background and a global perspective. A visionary with the courage to challenge tradition and the organisation, while maintaining deep respect for the university and its role. And then you walked through the door. A man from West Jutland with an international vision. And you threw yourself fearlessly into the assignment. Your drive has been your conviction that if we all join forces, this university and this country can interact with the world in a whole new way and make a real difference.”

“There have been irritations and frustrations, but I’m sure that these problems will soon be dealt with, allowing us to harvest the fruits of your magnificent labours. You will go down in history as the man who put Aarhus University on the global map.”

Uffe Toudal Pedersen, departementschef for Ministeriet for Forskning, Innovation og Videregående Uddannelser

”Du har et meget gennemgående træk: Udsyn. Du har om nogen forstået, at universitetet ikke må lukke sig om sig selv, men at universiteterne er til for samfundet – for at gøre os alle sammen klogere. Vi har i ministeriet lært dig at kende som en retskaffen og direkte mand, og vi glæder os til at fortsætte samarbejdet med dig omkring flere ting, som for eksempel universitetssamarbejdet i Kina og vores indsats på det arktiske område.”


Bent Hansen, Chairman of Danish Regions and Chairman of the Regional Council in Central Denmark Region

“Your input has been immense! You have international experience and global vision, and we have benefited greatly from this in our regional partnership. You have brought perspective to the table and helped to ensure that Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital were named the Danish Centre for Particle Therapy shortly before Christmas. In partnership with you and Aarhus University, we have also set ourselves the goal of establishing university clinics at every hospital in the region. This expanded agreement is sure to generate even better results in relation to our overarching goal: to improve the health of the population.”

Jens Oddershede, formand for Danske Universiteter og rektor for SDU

”Kære Lauritz. Jeg kender dig som venlig, jovial og ligefrem – og så er du altid klar med en frisk bemærkning. Men bag ved gemmer der sig en jernvilje: Du véd, hvad du vil. Og jeg kom til at tænke på vores 200-års fødselar Søren Kierkegaard og citatet: At vove er at tabe fodfæstet for en stund. Ikke at vove er at miste sig selv.
For Lauritz, du har truffet en lang række svære beslutninger, som jeg er sikker på vil gavne Aarhus Universitet på langt sigt – selv om det betyder, at man i en kort stund taber fodfæstet.
Du har ikke været upåvirket af den kritik, der har været, og kritikken har ikke været forgæves. Men når støvet har lagt sig, så vil man sige, at Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen lagde den nødvendige kurs”.


Jacob Bundsgaard, Mayor of the City of Aarhus

“Aarhus University has never been stronger than it is today – and that is largely your doing. Your attitude is that the university belongs to society, and in that spirit you have created room for Aarhus University to manoeuvre in close symbiosis with the city. We are each other’s prerequisites. With you at the helm, Aarhus University has made giant leaps over the past eight years and now has a truly international perspective. And this has also become the city’s perspective. As we all know, Aarhus is to be the European City of Culture in 2017 – we have moved up into a whole new league. You are leaving us with a world class university, for which the city will be eternally grateful to you.”

Ditlev Engel, President and CEO of Vestas

“Aarhus University now ranks among the top 100 universities in the world. This is extremely important to a company such as ours, which is why we have chosen to locate our head office here. Aarhus University and Vestas share a number of important traits. We are both dependent on being able to attract international talents. And in this regard, Lauritz, you have thoroughly understood the importance of facilitating the exchange of knowledge between the university and the business community. For which, you have my heartfelt I thanks!”

Aase Pedersen, Joint Union Representative

“During your time at AU, more has happened here than ever before in the university’s history. We were well aware that something was going to happen when you were appointed – we just didn’t know it would be so big. It was courageous of you to start by implementing an administrative change process followed by an academic one, and when you did you made sure that the union representatives were engaged from day one. It was important to you that we received the information before anyone else.
On behalf of the union representatives for the technical and administrative staff and for the members of the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations, I would like to thank you for always turning up when we asked for a meeting. We really appreciate the fact that you always came to our meetings yourself rather than send a deputy. Your commitment and your belief that we can get things done have rubbed off on us. On occasion, our words may have fallen on partially deaf ears. But in those cases we simply repeated the message again and again. It was anything but dull to work at Aarhus University while you were at the helm. History will surely remember your name.”

Uffe Toudal Pedersen, Permanent Secretary in the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education

“You have a defining characteristic: vision. You have understood that the university must not close up around itself, but that the universities are there for society – to make us all more knowledgeable. We at the ministry have got to know you as an upright and straight-talking man, and we look forward to continuing to work with you on a number of issues, such as our university partnership in China and our work in the Arctic.”

Per Dalbjerg, Chairman of the Student Council

“The Student Council would like to thank you for the past eight years. You wanted what’s best for Aarhus University – as do we. We agreed on the goal, even though we may not always have agreed on the path to follow. But we have always been able to sit down and have coffee together in an environment where the talk flowed freely – and we developed something of a tradition for regular coffee meetings.”

Brian Bech Nielsen, newly appointed Rector of Aarhus University, Dean at Science and Technology

“A fire burns in Lauritz’s breast, and Aarhus University is the fuel that feeds the flame. The university is in Lauritz’s DNA. Lauritz, you are a remarkably knowledgeable and inquisitive person and a true visionary. At the same time, you thrive on discussions about strategy and visions, and you are skilled at living in the present. You originally hail from the island of Fanø, from where you have drawn your desire for adventure and love of the sea. And your motto: ‘If you want to chart a course, start off by finding out where you are ...’ This is something we have heard on more than one occasion. You have a fiery temper, too, but I always remember how hard it is to start a fire without striking sparks ... And Lauritz, on behalf of the entire senior management team, I want to thank you for your wholehearted efforts for and unswerving commitment to Aarhus University.”

Lauritz B-Holm-Nielsen, rektor på Aarhus Universitet

”For mig er det en helt speciel dag. Det er snart 48 år siden, jeg startede som studerende ved AU. Det var et stort privilegium at være studerende, medarbejder, leder og ambassadør for AU. Men højdepunktet var, da daværende bestyrelsesformand Jens Bigum ringede og sagde, at bestyrelsen havde valgt mig som ny rektor. Jeg vil gerne sige tak til alle, jeg har mødt på min vej: Medarbejdere, studerende, samarbejdspartnere, ledelseskolleger, Folketing, regering og søsteruniversiteter. Det har været nogle fantastiske år, der har været båret af kærligheden til universitetet. Og min allerstørste tak går til Helle, min kone, der med sin dybe indsigt i AU nok har været min skarpeste og mest loyale kritiker. Til sidst vil jeg ønske held og lykke til Brian med verdens bedste job!”