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The board: Bech Nielsen will continue as rector

Brian Bech Nielsen has been reappointed as rector beginning in August 2022. Following a months-long appointment process, the appointment committee made a unanimous decision to re-appoint the current rector for a five-year term ending in 2027.

Photo of Rector Brian Bech Nielsen
Photo: Lars Kruse

The University Board has decided to re-appoint Bech Nielsen to lead Aarhus University for a new term. 

“Out of a strong field of highly qualified applicants, the appointment committee unanimously agreed that Brian Bech Nielsen is the best candidate to chart the course for Aarhus University for the coming five years,” stated Chair of the Board Connie Hedegaard, who chaired the appointment committee.

“Our task was to select the best rector for AU. That’s what we’ve done, and that’s Brian Bech Nielsen.”

“Brian is simply a highly competent rector. He’s ambitious on behalf of the university and on behalf of its research activities, he has many years of leadership experience and he’s also highly respected. Not least thanks to his stellar character,” Hedegaard said.

Rector in a rapidly changing world

“Under the leadership of Brian Bech Nielsen, AU has achieved a strong position in the Danish university landscape. Our finances are well-managed; clear strategic objectives have been established, including within the humanities and social sciences, among them the engineering initiative and major interdisciplinary initiatives; and there is a stronger focus on bringing knowledge into play to the benefit of our society, for example through an increased focus on entrepreneurship and external collaboration.”

Brian Bech Nielsen will begin his final five-year term as rector in a time marked by rapid developments in the role and mission of universities in Danish society.  

“There are many political agendas and demands on academia. We saw it with the degree programme relocation agenda, and now the government’s reform commission has proposed structural reforms of university degree programmes. In this context, there is a need for a rector with deep insight into and ideas about how Danish universities can realise national demands and objectives for education and research without compromising on the high quality that is the university’s raison d'être. And at the same time, AU must maintain and develop its strong position internationally, while continuing to contribute solutions to global challenges,” Hedegaard said.

A privilege to chart the course for AU

“I’m very pleased that the board has decided to appoint me as rector for a new term. The senior management team have launched a number of strategic initiatives for the period through 2025, and I’m very much looking forward to realising them in the years to come,” Bech Nielsen said.

“It’s an enormous privilege to be entrusted with charting the course for the talented, dedicated staff and students at Aarhus University.  We have high ambitions at the university, and we have what it takes to make an even stronger mark on society – within research, education and collaboration.”

Over the coming months, Bech Nielsen will visit the faculties, departments/schools and other units at the university.

“I would very much like to discuss the challenges and opportunities the university faces with staff and students – and there will be ample opportunities for dialogue.”

Brian Bech Nielsen was born in 1957; he is married and has two adult daughters. He trained as a physicist at Aarhus University, where he held a variety of leadership positions, including department head and dean, before his appointment as rector in 2013.

In addition to the chair and deputy chair of the board, the appointment committee was comprised of two board members elected by staff and one student member. The appointment committee nominated Brian Bech Nielsen as rector to the board, which approved the board’s nomination at a meeting on 7 April.