Anne Borg resigns as rector, Tor Grande takes over

Anne Borg has resigned as the rector of NTNU and is stepping down with immediate effect. The board has appointed Tor Grande as the new acting rector. Grande has been Prorector for research at the university since 2021.

Bilde av Tor Grande tatt på campus Gløshaugen. Bak ser du store grå universitetsbygg.
Tor Grande Foto: Thor Nielsen/NTNU

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It was during an extraordinary board meeting on Friday morning that Anne Borg announced her intention to resign.

Borg had to explain her handling of the debate that began with an opinion piece she wrote in Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on the 5th of December.

Resignation was announced during the meeting

She announced her resignation during the public part of the board meeting. Borg stated: “My integrity and honesty have been called into question. This is a doubt I cannot live with as a rector. The rector of NTNU must possess significant authority and legitimacy, both internally and externally. For me, the best interests of NTNU are what matter.”

Her announcement came during a part of the digital meeting that was streamed openly on the internet, a stream that was followed by many employees and students at the university. She resigned as rector with immediate effect, one and a half years before her term would have ended.

Chairman Remi Eriksen thanked Anne Borg for her efforts and significant commitment to NTNU during her four years as rector. Borg was also praised and thanked by other board members.

Tor Grande Takes Over

In the closed part of the meeting, the board unanimously decided to appoint Tor Grande (60) as the new acting rector. He will function as the acting leader until a recruitment process is completed, and a permanent rector is in place.

Tor Grande comes from Trondheim. He is a professor of chemistry, specialising in material chemistry.

He has worked at NTH/NTNU since 1994 and has also been a postdoctoral fellow at Arizona State University in the USA. Since 2021, he has been part of NTNU’s top leadership as the prorector for research and dissemination.

Statement on Freedom of Speech

The board also gave a statement saying that Anne Borg’s article in Dagens Næringsliv was critic-worthy because it could be perceived to limit academic freedom of speech (See below).

The board emphasised the importance of NTNU employees without doubt have the feeling full freedom of speech. They encouraged academic staff to participate in public discourse, even on controversial topics.

You can read Rector Anne Borg’s speech to the board here (In Norwegian)

Here you can read the entire board resolution:

Interim appointment:

  1. The board notes that the rector has apologised for the ambiguity that has arisen about freedom of speech and academic freedom at NTNU, and the importance of NTNU’s integrity, as well as the proper handling of its employees.
  1. The board notes that the rector herself has chosen to resign due to the circumstances.
  1. The board expresses gratitude to Anne Borg for her substantial contributions to NTNU during her tenure as rector.
  1. The board has determined that the chairman will serve as the recommending authority for the appointment of a new interim rector at NTNU.
  1. Tor Grande is appointed, as recommended by the board chairman, as rector at NTNU from 15.12.2023, and until the appointment of a new rector and new term.
  1. The board chairman is given the authority to enter an employment contract with the acting rector and make practical clarifications around this.
  1. The board asks the acting rector to return with a case for the board meeting on 22.01.2024 about the process for recruiting a new rector for a new fixed-term position. The case must include a proposal for the announcement text and assessments related to dispensation from the main rule that the rector’s fixed term should be four years, and how the recruitment process can be expedited.

Regarding rector’s article in Dagens Næringsliv on December 5, 2023

Based on the situation that has arisen after rector’s article in Dagens Næringsliv on the 5th  of December, 2023, titled “The green shift benefits from a healthy culture of expression,” and the subsequent debate in the media:

8. The board believes that the article in Dagens Næringsliv on 5th December by the rector was critic-worthy because it could be perceived as limiting academic freedom of speech. It is also objectionable that the rector publicly reprimanded her own employees through the article. Furthermore, the contact with NHO and Norsk Industri prior to the article in Dagens Næringsliv could create ambiguity about NTNU’s independence.

9. The board emphasises the importance of NTNU employees and students to feel that they have full freedom of speech. Scientific staff are encouraged to participate in public discourse even on controversial topics. When scientific staff speak publicly, they are expressing their own views, not those of NTNU. This is a crucial aspect of academic freedom.

10. It is further emphasized by the board that NTNU is responsible for safeguarding academic freedom independently of external interests, and this commitment is secured within collaboration agreements. The board calls for a comprehensive assessment of existing relevant agreements to ensure the continuity of academic freedom and NTNU’s autonomy

11. The board requests that a case be presented on how academic freedom is safeguarded at NTNU and how the conclusions of the Kierulf Committee’s report are implemented at NTNU.

Media contact: Jan Erik Kaarø