Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Århus University - the first 80 years

Århus University, where I work, celebrates its 80th birthday this months. Back in the 1920s several Danish towns in Jutland were competing for the right to host the country's second university. Århus triumphed, and in September 1928 the first 64 students began their studies under the guidance of 5 permanent lecturers.
The first year conditions were somewhat rough. The university had no buildings yet, so teaching took place in rented rooms, and the budget was a very modest 33000 DKK, provided by the town council. Later the city of Århus and the Danish government agreed that the state would be financing the administration of the university, while the municipality was responsible for raising funds for building expenses.

The building of the university campus began in the 1930's, and to a large extent was financed by private donations. The uniform yellow brick buildings, designed by the local architects Kay Fisker, C.F. Møller and Povl Stegmann, are gathered in and around the picturesque University Park. The hills, ponds and old trees of the park provide a very atmospheric backdrop to academic work. (Click on the pictures for larger size.)

Currently the university has 35 000 students and 8500 staff, and its annual budget is 4,5 milliard DKK. Among its students were Queen Margrethe II, who studied political science and archaeology, and her son, crown prince Frederik, who got his MA here in political science.

I work at the Linguistics department in one of the old buildings at the northern edge of the park:

Our department in the evening:

My office, which I share with a young Polish linguist. My desk is the one in the foreground:

My 'roommate' Kamila:

The university's central building, with the Main Hall. Our building is right behind, on the right:

The Main Hall:

The view from my window, overlooking the University Park:

In the first picture: the University's logo. For further details on the history of Århus University see here.

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