I still get goosebumps every time I go in the Main Hall

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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.

2018.09.28 | Miriam Brems

For Birgit Svenningsen, the atmosphere in the Main Hall is something truly special, especially at the annual celebration, when the university’s traditions are honoured with the choir singing in the gallery and the rector in his chain of office. 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.

Birgit Svenningsen, executive secretary to the rector, employed at AU since 1983 (Faculty of Theology), employed in the central administration since 1985.

Why are you still here?

“Because I’ve been given a chance to try my hand at a lot of different jobs here over the years, and so I don’t feel that I’ve had the same responsibilities for 35 years. Among other things, in addition to my normal job, I’ve been ‘on loan’ to the Information Office (now AU Events and Communication Support, ed.), and I’ve handled the holiday allowance foundation. So I feel as if I’ve been at a lot of different workplaces, even though all of it’s been under the AU umbrella. But what it’s also about is that over time, you also develop a veneration for the old buildings with their yellow bricks. The university gets under your skin –  you start to feel it’s part of your identity. When I introduce myself outside AU, I don’t say I work in the Rector's Office first off. I say that I work at Aarhus University. I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”

What’s your favorite spot at AU?

“It’s the Main Hall. I still get goosebumps every time I go in there. It’s incredibly beautiful, with high ceilings and a view of the park. I like the good atmosphere at the annual celebration in particular, when the rector is standing at the lectern wearing the chain of office, and the choir is singing up there in the gallery. It just doesn’t get much lovelier, and at the same time there’s this really special ceremonial atmosphere where you can sense the pride in being part of AU. But I also really enjoy a walk down to Dale’s Café (on Høegh-Guldbergs Gade, ed.), where I sometimes eat lunch with my co-workers who work in the park. Right now, it’s particularly nice to see the students lie in the grass and enjoy the park. I think it’s wonderful that it can be as beautiful as it is now, but it can also be used, for example when the students hold their Regatta, when the whole place gets transformed into mud and partying.”

What is your birthday wish for AU?

“What’s most important to me is for AU to preserve the solid roots we have, and to hold on to our traditions in a time when society is undergoing massive changes. I like that we hold on to our our dolphin seal, that the rector wears the old chain of office at the annual celebration, for example, and that AU still has a high ceiling (Danish figure of speech meaning ‘a tolerant and broad-minded culture’, ed.), – not just in the Main Hall. But at the same time, we have to keep on developing and keeping up with the times at AU. We can’t rest on our laurels – we have to dare to set the agenda, to the benefit of employees and students alike. And that’s what’s made AU an exciting place to work for all these years.”

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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Revised 19.10.2018