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Aarhus University in Denmark Awards Meier Honorary Doctorate

Ken Meier walking with students

AU School of Public Affairs (SPA) Distinguished Professor Kenneth Meier recently accepted an honorary doctorate from Aarhus University in recognition of his contribution to the field of public administration and public policy.

“Ken is a true role model for young and established scholars,” said Thomas Pallesen, dean of the Aarhus University College of Business and Social Sciences at the ceremony Sept. 14 in Denmark. “The way he combines excellent research, talent development, and international collaboration is truly amazing.”

For nearly 15 years, Meier has collaborated with researchers at Aarhus and the Danish Center for Social Science Research in Copenhagen on a wide range of topics including K-12 education, government structural reorganizations, leadership training, gender and organizations.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” Meier said of the award from Aarhus. “I felt very honored. It’s a first-class university.”

Meier was one of four individuals honored at an event that celebrated the 90th anniversary of the institution. Denmark provides access to rich sources of data that allow scholars to look at the short- and long-term impacts of government initiatives, says Meier.

“It’s an interesting place to do research because their government actually cares whether programs work and they invest money in determining how to make programs work better,” Meier said.

At the ceremony, a video produced by SPA on Meier’s career was shown. He explained how he uses an apprenticeship model in his teaching, working on projects with students to produce knowledge and help them become successful scholars. He’s proud of the fact that no student of his has been denied tenure at a university since 1982. 

“He is extremely generous with his students. He invests in them and socializes them as to how it is to be an academic,” said SPA Dean Vicky Wilkins. “He really has trained a generation of scholars and trained us to be better at our craft.”

Meier has been recognized as one of the most productive international political scientists, publishing articles in 96 high impact journals from 1990 to 2013. He has been president of the Public Management Research Association and editor of the American Journal of Political Science. On film, he talked about his dedication for the field.

“There are thousands of interesting questions we don’t know the answer to,” Meier said. “That’s what drives me -- seeing these puzzles, how programs don’t work as well as they should and what one can do about that. It’s my passion.”

Adds Wilkins: “It is truly a game changer for us to have him in the School of Public Affairs.”