“AU is a little like Hotel California. Once you’re here, it’s hard to get away”

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Same procedure as last year...? No, because unlike Miss Sophie in Dinner for One, AU doesn’t turn 90 every year. Omnibus is celebrating the university’s 90th with a series of short interviews with employees about their relationship to the university.

2018.09.17 | Miriam Brems

Susanne Bødker on top of the IT City on Åbogade. There’s a view of the city from this meeting room. But her office window faces a grey wall, so she still misses her old office on Ny Munkegade with a view of the Port of Aarhus. Even though it’s been 20-25 years since she moved. Photo: Ida Marie Jensen.

AU’s 90th

  • “In the hope that that the scientific and scholarly research which shall take place here may take place in spirit and truth, I hereby inaugurate Aarhus University.”
  • King Christian X inaugurated the first university in Jutland with these words, on 11 September 1933. The very university where you work – or study: Aarhus University.
  • Omnibus is celebrating AU’s 90th birthday with a series of short interviews: we asked AU employees to answer three questions about their relationship to the university. And about their birthday wishes for the guest of honor.
  • Together with university historian Palle Lykke, we’ve also delved into the archives to find photos from the first nine decades at AU. They’re accompanied by a short text by Palle that illuminates the high points (and low points) documented by the photographer’s lens over the years.
  • And we’ve asked the photographers from AU Photo to revisit the same spots to show you what they look like today. The anniversary series ‘AU’s 90th’ will run throughout the autumn.

Susanne Bødker, professor of computer science, dr.scient. Member of the AU Board, one of two representatives for academic staff. Started studying math and computer science at AU in 1975 and has been employed here since 1983.

Why are you still here?

“I think the university is a little like Hotel California. Once you’re here, it can be hard to get away. I’ve always liked being at AU, and I thrive in Aarhus. The older you get, the more you get tangled up in all kinds of stuff. I have PhD students, I’m working on research projects, and I sit on the university board. These are long-term commitments. At the same time, as a researcher you have good opportunities to take a sabbatical where you travel to another university for a period. I’ve done that along the way, and I’ve visited the university in Limerick in Ireland and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, among others. Travelling gives you breathing room, and it’s exciting to see how things are done elsewhere. First and foremost, it gives you inspiration. And I also think it’s interesting to live in another country temporarily, for a few months, because you get a lot closer to the locals than when you travel as a tourist.”

What’s your favorite spot at AU?

“I have two. One of them is the balcony at the top of the physics building, where you can look out over the whole city. It’s so lovely there, except that you’re always a little afraid you’ll get locked out. There are stories that circulate about students who’ve had to spend entire weekends on the balcony, but I don’t know if it’s true. Another good place is the view from the Main Hall or the Sun Courtyard in front of the Main Hall, where you have a view of the park. Back in the day, we (the Department of Computer Science, ed.) were located on Ny Munkegade, where I had a view of the harbor. I miss that up here (on Åbogade, ed.) I’m the only one who has a little bit of green in my view, because there’s a single tree. I’ve missed that view all these years – and that’s 20-25 years ago by now.

What is your birthday wish for AU?

“My wish is maybe a little political. I wish that the national political winds would change, so that the politicians would realize that it’s worth investing in the universities instead of cutting back every year. In some ways of course, the processes we’ve been through at AU in the past few years have resulted in a better and more efficient organisation. But you get to a point where the two percent cutbacks we have to make each year just hurt. It affects the quality of the degree programmes and of the research we can do. We can’t keep educating more and better graduates while we have to make cutbacks at the same time, and if we have fewer people teaching, there will also be less time for research.

AU’s 90th

  • “In the hope that that the scientific and scholarly research which shall take place here may take place in spirit and truth, I hereby inaugurate Aarhus University.”
  • King Christian X inaugurated the first university in Jutland with these words, on 11 September 1933. The very university where you work – or study: Aarhus University.
  • Omnibus is celebrating AU’s 90th birthday with a series of short interviews: we asked AU employees to answer three questions about their relationship to the university. And about their birthday wishes for the guest of honor.
  • Together with university historian Palle Lykke, we’ve also delved into the archives to find photos from the first nine decades at AU. They’re accompanied by a short text by Palle that illuminates the high points (and low points) documented by the photographer’s lens over the years.
  • And we’ve asked the photographers from AU Photo to revisit the same spots to show you what they look like today. The anniversary series ‘AU’s 90th’ will run throughout the autumn.
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