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Retiring after 49 years

Jørgen B. Jespersen has walked the halls of Aarhus University and other governmental research institutions since 1974. First as a student and then later as a researcher, institute director, head of department, vice-dean, director and special adviser. He is retiring on 1 October after 49 years of work.

After 49 years, Jørgen B. Jespersen now chooses to retire from AU.
After 49 years, Jørgen B. Jespersen now chooses to retire from AU.

Jørgen B. Jespersen graduated from the Faculty of Science at Aarhus University with a degree in biology. He completed his biology studies with a research project on the potential role of insects as transmitters of diseases in grazing heifers. A field that has always interested him:

"I’ve always had an interest in this subject, and I’ve gained a lot of experience with pests over the years. I’ve worked with the biology, behaviour and importance of pests, as well as the chemical, biological and physical control of pests. And I've always had an interest in insecticide resistance and the environmental impact of pesticides and veterinary drugs," he says.

From student and employee at AU to working for a governmental research institution and back to AU

After the final examination for his Master’s degree in 1981, Jørgen B. Jespersen worked as a substitute assistant professor at AU and as a consultant at Bioconsult until 1983. He then worked at the former Danish National Institute of Pest Control as a researcher from 1983-1988, as an administrative officer from 1988 to 2003, and then as director from 2003-2004.

He was head of research at the Department of Plant Protection and Pest Management from 2005-2011, as well as vice-dean for education at the Department of Agricultural Sciences from 2009-2011. In 2011, Jørgen B. Jespersen became acting director of the Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture. In 2013, he took up a new position as special adviser to the dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, later renamed the Faculty of Technical Sciences and the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

"One of the things that stands out the most to me are all the talented and dedicated people I have met during my time at AU. It’s been a huge source of inspiration and a very rewarding element of my work to have experienced so many excellent collaborations with competent colleagues at the various academic environments. That has been a very privileged part of my career,” he emphasises and continues:

"I’ve been fortunate enough to be responsible for the academic, administrative and financial management of many national and international research projects. I’ve been an advisor to the WHO in connection with the establishment of national strategies to control flies in Morocco and Jordan and the development of new methods for controlling flies and mosquitoes in refugee camps in Sierra Leone in order to combat the spread of diarrhoea and malaria. It was a very exciting job," says Jørgen B. Jespersen.

Special adviser to two deans

Jørgen B. Jespersen is currently a special adviser to the deans of the Nat and Tech faculties, with a primary focus on the university's business initiative.  He has also been the day-to-day occupational health and safety manager at both faculties for a number of years.

"Jørgen is incredibly well-liked, and he will be missed at Tech. He is very talented and has been very result-oriented on behalf of AU for several years. His long-standing dedication to AU is impressive, and he’s always had a confident grip on his work, and a very thorough approach. All the while being a very pragmatic person and very pleasant colleague. He will be dearly missed by his colleagues at Tech. Not just for his many competencies, but also for his collegial nature and friendliness," says Eskild Holm Nielsen, dean at Tech.

Kristian Pedersen, who is dean at Nat and thus Jørgen B. Jespersen's second boss, also has kind words for the soon-to-be retiree:

"We all owe Jørgen a debt of gratitude. He has greatly contributed to improving collaboration with the business community and across the university. He’s also been an important part of developing a well-functioning occupational health and safety organisation here at AU. He’s made his mark on the university through an unobtrusive and qualified effort. Thank you for your hard work, Jørgen. And enjoy your well-deserved retirement."

Time for the family

After 49 years, Jørgen B. Jespersen has decided to retire from AU. To the question of what he’ll be spending his time on, he answers promptly:

"I don't want to speculate about that at all. Time will tell, but it’ll definitely be a combination of cultural, physical and social activities. I’ve actually just begun repainting my house - so that’s a start," he explains and concludes:

"I definitely think that a lot of my time will be dedicated to my family, my two daughters and my two grandchildren. I'm looking forward to it," concludes Jørgen B. Jespersen.

Jørgen B. Jespersen's retirement was marked by an internal event for the Nat and Tech faculties on 25 September.