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Academic wind turbine noise expert fired for lack of industry sponsors  

Credit:  Emil Rottbøll - 2. juni 2014 - information.dk ~~

Kritisk professor fyret for at give underskud

[Pleading economic pressure, Aalborg University fired a critical wind turbine noise professor for his bad ‘revenue-generating performance’. The academic unions believe that reason to be contrary to freedom of research. (See English translation by Peter Skeel Hjorth below.)]

Den 63-årige professor i akustik Henrik Møller er internationalt anerkendt inden for sit fag. Alligevel var det ham, valget faldt på, da hans institut på Aalborg Universitet skulle fyre en forsker i Akustik-sektionen på grund af universitetets økonomiske problemer.

I Henrik Møllers opsigelse forklarer ledelsen, at man har udvalgt Akustik-sektionen på grund af dens »ubalance« mellem indtægter og udgifter og dens »vigende omsætning på eksterne projekter«. På samme måde har ledelsen lagt hovedvægt på at sammenligne de syv ansatte i Akustik-sektionen ud fra de indtægter, de skaffer instituttet. Og det er her, at Henrik Møller er blevet fundet for let:

»Ud fra en samlet betragtning på baggrund af udvælgelseskriterierne, herunder konkret vedr. indtægtsskabende performance, er du derfor den medarbejder som bedst kan undværes,« står der i opsigelsen.

Som ekspert i lavfrekvent støj har Henrik Møller flere gange kritiseret både vindmølleindustrien og Miljøstyrelsen for at fejlinformere om den støj, vindmøller udsender. Derfor har blandt andet Landsforeningen Naboer til Kæmpevindmøller over for Jyllands-Posten betvivlet motiverne for, at valget netop faldt på ham.

Indtil opsigelsen har Henrik Møller intet hørt om, at han ikke skabte nok indtægter til instituttet. Han kritiserer, at hans arbejdsindsats alene er vurderet på områder, som er økonomisk målbare.

»Det er jo ikke normalt på et universitet, at man kigger på, om det kan svare sig at have en forsker ansat. Min ansættelse har aldrig afhængt af ekstern finansiering,« siger Henrik Møller.

Han mener, at det strider mod den fri forskning, hvis man som forsker skal være rentabel.

»Som forsker skal man beskæftige sig med det inden for ens fag, man finder mest relevant. Ikke med det, der er penge i,« siger Henrik Møller.

Strider mod loven

Universiteterne er i stigende grad afhængige af ekstern finansiering, og derfor har fagforeninger i årevis været opmærksomme på, om det også bliver brugt som fyringsgrundlag.

I et notat fra 2011 konkluderer blandt andre Ingeniørforeningen, Djøf og Dansk Magisterforening, at det er usagligt at afskedige forskere på grund af manglende indhentning af forskningsmidler.

Dels strider det mod Universitetsloven, som angiver universiteternes formål til at være forskning og uddannelse og ikke indtægtsgivende virksomhed.

Dels afhænger det af udefrakommende faktorer i samfundet, som den ansatte ingen indflydelse har på.

»Det må i sagens natur være omstændigheder, som beror på den ansattes forhold, og ikke hvorvidt den enkeltes/faggruppens forskningsområde er i høj kurs i det omgivende samfund. Dette ville stride fundamentalt mod grundlæggende principper om forskningsfrihed‚« skriver fagforeningerne.

Ingeniørforeningen, som Henrik Møller er medlem af, har dog ikke ønsket at udtale sig på nuværende tidspunkt i den konkrete sag.

Formand for Dansk Magisterforening Ingrid Stage kalder det en ubehagelig tendens, hvis professorer nu kan blive fyret for manglende ekstern finansiering.

»Der kan jo være mange årsager til, at man ikke har ekstern finansiering. Det er ikke nødvendigvis, fordi der ingen fremtid er i forskningen. På den måde overlader man risikovilligheden til at satse og finde nye områder til eksterne firmaer i stedet for at tage den på sig som universitet,« siger Ingrid Stage.

På det Teknisk-Naturvidenskabelige Fakultet, hvor Henrik Møller kommer fra, overstiger de eksterne midler i væsentlig grad de basisbevillinger, der kommer direkte til universitetet fra Finansloven, siger dekan Eskild Holm Nielsen. Alligevel mener han ikke, det er en trussel mod forskningsfriheden at prioritere efter de eksterne penge.

»Hovedparten af de konkurrenceudsatte midler er til fri forskning. Man skal bare overbevise andre om, at ens ideer til fri forskning har en tilstrækkelig kvalitet og nytteværdi,« siger Eskild Holm Nielsen.

Samtidig er han uenig i, at det ligger uden for kravene til en professor at hente forskningsmidler ind.

»Professorer er netop ansat til at udvikle et område. Det kan du ikke uden at hente eksterne midler hjem,« siger Eskild Holm Nielsen.

(((( o ))))

Critical professor fired for giving deficit

An economically pressed Aalborg University has fired a critical wind turbine professor for his bad ‘revenue generating performance’. The academic unions believe that the dismissal criterion conflicts with academic freedom.

The 63-year-old professor of acoustics Henrik Møller is internationally recognized in his field. Yet he was the one chosen when his department at Aalborg University had to fire a researcher in the Acoustics section because of the university’s financial problems.

The management explains in Henrik Møller’s dismissal letter that they have selected the Acoustics section because of its »imbalance« between income and expenses and its »declining revenues of external projects«. In the same way, the management has put an emphasis on comparing the seven employees of the Acoustics section from the revenue they provide the department. And this is where Henrik Møller has been found deficient:

»From an overall consideration based on the selection criteria, comprising specifically revenue generating performance, you are thus the employee that can best be omitted,« it says in the letter.

As an expert in low-frequency noise, Henrik Møller has repeatedly criticized both the wind industry and the Environmental Protection Agency for misinformation about the noise that wind turbines emit. Therefore, among others, the National Association of Neighbors of Giant Wind Turbines has questioned the motives that the choice just fell on him to Jyllands-Posten.

Before the notice of dismissal, Henrik Møller had not heard any word that he did not create enough revenue for the department. He criticizes that his performance is assessed solely on areas that are economically measurable.

»It’s not normal at a university that you look at whether it is worthwhile to have a researcher employed. My employment has never depended on external financing,« says Henrik Møller.

He thinks it conflicts with freedom of research if the individual researcher must be profitable.

»As a researcher you must work with the subjects in your field which you find most relevant. Not what gains the most money,« says Henrik Møller.

Conflicts the law

Universities are increasingly dependent on external financing, and therefore unions have for years been aware of its possible use as a firing argument.

In a note from 2011 concludes, among others, the Danish Society of Engineers, DJØF and the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs that it is unreasonable to dismiss researchers due to lack of acquisition of research funding.

For one thing it is contrary to the University Act, which specifies the university purposes to be research and education and not profit-making activity.

For another it depends on external factors in society that the employee has no influence on.

»It must of course be based on the employee’s circumstances, and not whether the individual’s or the research group’s area is in great demand in the community. This would be fundamentally against the basic principles of academic freedom,« write the unions.

The Danish Society of Engineers, of which Henrik Møller is a member, has chosen not to comment at this stage of the case.

Chairman of the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs, Ingrid Stage, called it a disagreeable trend, if professors can now be fired for lack of external financing.

»There may well be many reasons for not having external funding. This is not necessarily because there is no future in the research. In this way you leave the willingness to risk and find new areas to external companies instead of assuming this task as a university,« says Ingrid Stage.

At the Faculty of Engineering and Science, where Henrik Møller comes from, the external funding significantly exceeds the basic funding that comes directly to the university from the Finance Act, says Dean Eskild Holm Nielsen. Still he does not think it poses a threat to academic freedom to prioritize according to the external money.

»The majority of the funding subject to competition is for independent research. You just have to convince others that your ideas for independent research have sufficient quality and utility value,« says Eskild Holm Nielsen.

At the same time he disagrees that it is beyond the requirements for a professor to retrieve research funding. »Professors are exactly appointed to develop an area. You cannot do this without attracting external funding,« says Eskild Holm Nielsen.

—translation by Peter Skeel Hjorth

(((( o ))))

Fyret støj-professor valgt ud blandt 200 forskere

Emil Rottbøll – 3. juni 2014 – information.dk

[Less than a year before Aalborg University fired critical noise professor Henrik Møller, it granted tenure to two other researchers in the small acoustics section. It turned out only afterwards that we could not afford so many employees, pleads the Dean. Other than three researchers at an abandoned research section in Esbjerg, Møller is the only one, out of nearly 200 scientists at the Institute, who has lost his job. (See English translation by Peter Skeel Hjorth below.)]

Dårlig økonomi var Aalborg Universitets begrundelse for, at det netop var i Akustik-sektionen, der skulle fyres en forsker, og for at valget netop faldt på den kritiske støj-professor Henrik Møller.

Men mindre end et år inden, Henrik Møller fik sin fyreseddel, fastansatte universitetet to nye lektorer i akustik.

Det bestyrker mistanken om, at der også ligger andre motiver bag fyringen af Henrik Møller end de økonomiske, mener kritikere. Ud fra Informations beskrivelse kalder næstformanden for Akademikerne, Ingrid Stage, sagen for mærkelig.

»Det ser helt besynderligt ud. Så kan man få den tanke, at økonomien bliver en bekvem begrundelse,« siger hun.

Det samme mener formanden for Landsforeningen Naboer til Kæmpevindmøller, Tone F. Brix-Hansen.

»Hele fyringen ser meget mystisk ud,« siger hun.

Henrik Møller er internationalt anerkendt for sin forskning i lavfrekvent støj, der flere gang har bragt ham på kollisionskurs med Vindmølleindustrien og Miljøstyrelsen, som han har anklaget for at lave bevidst fejlagtige beregningsmetoder for den støj, vindmøller udsender.

Det frygter Landsforeningen Naboer til Kæmpevindmøller har været medvirkende til, at valget netop er faldet på ham.

En ud af 200

Ud over tre forskere på en nedlagt forskningssektion i Esbjerg er Henrik Møller den eneste ud af knap 200 forskere på instituttet, der er blevet fyret.

I opsigelsen konstaterer ledelsen, at der er for mange ansatte i Akustik-sektionen i forhold til, hvor mange studerende der er, og hvor store indtægter de har fra eksterne projekter og publikationer. Alligevel er der siden maj sidste år fastansat to nye lektorer i Akustik-sektionen, hvorved sektionen gik fra fem til syv faste forskere.

Før nyansættelserne var det allerede kendt, at Aalborg Universitets resultat for 2012 var markant værre end forventet. I en mail dateret 13. marts 2013 skriver Henrik Møllers chef, dekan Eskild Holm Nielsen, til samtlige ansatte på det Teknisk-Naturvidenskabelige Fakultet, at fakultetet er sat under skærpet økonomisk tilsyn på grund af de alvorlige budgetoverskridelser, og at samtlige enheder skal gennemgå deres budgetter for at finde besparelser og nye indtægter. Samtidig bebuder dekanen totalt ansættelsesstop, hvor rektor skal give dispensation, hvis en ansættelse alligevel skal gennemføres.

Begrundelsen for at fortsætte de to ansættelser i Akustik-sektionen var, »at det var nødvendigt at bevare momentum i Akustik-sektionen« og »at der var presserende undervisningsopgaver, som skulle løses«, ligesom man var interesseret i de to kandidaters forskningsprofiler, forklarer dekan Eskild Holm Nielsen.

Det var først efterfølgende, efter en nærmere analyse, at man blev klar over, hvor meget man blev nødt til at spare på Institut for Elektroniske Systemer, hvor Akustik-sektionen indgår, siger han.

»Instituttet prøvede at lavede en satsning inden for området. Det viste sig så, at man ikke havde råd til det. Det er meget uheldigt og træls,« siger Eskild Holm Nielsen.

Han understreger samtidig, at han altid har værnet om Henrik Møllers ytringsfrihed.

»Folk må komme med de konspirationsteorier, de vil. Det kan jeg jo ikke sige noget til. Det er jo ligesom at bekæmpe vindmøller,« siger han.

Som dokumentation henviser han til en mailkorrespondance fra sommeren 2011, hvor Vindmølleindustrien beklagede sig til dekanen over en kronik, som Henrik Møller var med-underskriver på.

I en mail undrer Vindmølleindustrien sig over, at forskere fra Aalborg Universitet fremfører kritik i offentligheden, når universitetet netop er inviteret til en teknisk høring om samme senere på måneden.

Hertil svarer Eskild Holm Nielsen:

»Jeg er ked af, at Henrik Møller og co. vælger at gå ud med dette indlæg, når der er aftalt en teknisk høring. Det er ikke universitetets prioritering at vælge polemik, men forskerne har ytringsfrihed. Jeg troede faktisk, at jeg havde en fælles forståelse af, at akustik skulle bruge deres kræfter på den tekniske høring. Jeg har ikke haft lejlighed til at høre Henrik og co., hvorfor de har ageret, som de har. Vi vender tilbage.«

Henrik Møller har ikke ønsket at kommentere fyringssagen yderligere på nuværende tidspunkt.

(((( o ))))

Dismissed noise professor selected amongst 200 researchers

Less than a year before Aalborg University dismissed the critical noise Professor Henrik Møller, the University employed two other researchers in the small Acoustics section. It wasn’t found until afterwards that they could not afford as many employees, says the dean explanation.

Insufficient financial resources was Aalborg University’s justification that a researcher in the Acoustics section had to be fired, and that the choice fell exactly on the critical noise Professor Henrik Møller.

But less than a year before Henrik Møller received his dismissal notice, the university employed two new lecturers in acoustics.

This reinforces the suspicion that there are other motives behind the sacking of Henrik Møller than economic factors, critics believe. From Information’s description the Vice President of The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations, Ingrid Stage calls the case strange.

»It looks quite peculiar. One can easily get the idea that the lack of resources is a convenient justification,« “she says.

The chairman of the National Association Neighbors of Giant Wind Turbines, Tone F. Brix Hansen, is of the same opinion.

»The entire dismissal looks very mysterious,« she says.

Henrik Møller is internationally recognized for his research on low frequency noise that has repeatedly brought him on a collision course with the Danish Wind Industry Association and the Danish EPA, which he has accused of making knowingly incorrect calculation methods for the noise emitted by wind turbines.

The National Association Neighbors of Giant Windmills fears that this has been instrumental in the targeting of Møller.

One out of 200

Apart from three staff members in a closed research section in Esbjerg, Henrik Møller is the only one out of about 200 researchers at the institute, who has been fired.

In the dismissal letter, the management notes that there are too many staff members in the Acoustics section related to how many students there are, and how much income they gain from external projects and publications. Nevertheless, since May last year, two new associate professors have been employed, by which the section went from five to seven permanent researchers.

Before the new appointments, it was already known that Aalborg University’s result for 2012 was considerably worse than expected. In an email dated March 13, 2013, Henrik Møller’s superior, Dean Eskild Holm Nielsen, writes to all employees at the Faculty of Engineering and Science, that the Faculty has been put under enhanced economic surveillance because of the serious cost overruns, and that all units must examine their budgets to obtain cost savings and new revenues. At the same time, the Dean announces a full hiring freeze, where the Rector must grant special permission for any employment to take place anyway.

The reason to proceed with the two employments in the Acoustics section was »that it was necessary to maintain momentum in the Acoustics section« and »that there were urgent educational tasks to be solved,« just as there was an interest in the two candidates’ research profiles, explains Dean Eskild Holm Nielsen.

It was only later, after a detailed analysis, that we realized how much we had to save at the Department of Electronic Systems, where the Acoustics section belongs, he says.

»The institute tried to make a venture in the area. It turned out then that we could not afford it. It is very unfortunate and tiresome,« says Eskild Holm Nielsen.

He also stresses that he has always defended Henrik Møller’s right to freedom of speech.

»People may come up with the conspiracy theories they want. I cannot say anything to that. It’s like tilting at windmills,« he says.

As documentation he refers to an e-mail correspondence from the summer of 2011, when the Danish Wind Industry Association complained to the Dean about a feature article of which Henrik Møller was a co-author.

In an e-mail, the Danish Wind Industry Association wonders that researchers from Aalborg University put forward criticism in public, when the University has just been invited to a technical consultation on the same matter later that month.

To this, Eskild Holm Nielsen replies:

»I am sorry that Henrik Møller and his colleagues choose to bring out their message in public, when a technical consultation has been arranged. It is not the university’s priority to choose polemics, but scientists have the right to freedom of speech. I actually thought that I had a common understanding that they were to use their energy on the technical consultation. I have not had the opportunity to ask Henrik and his colleagues, why they have acted as they have. We will get back.«

Henrik Møller did not want to comment further on his case of dismissal at present.

—translation by Peter Skeel Hjorth

Source:  Emil Rottbøll - 2. juni 2014 - information.dk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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