Siri Beier Jensen reappointed as head of the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health

Her name is well-known, but many of the tasks in the position are new. Siri Beier Jensen has been reappointed as the head of the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, and for the next six years, she will lead the department's research, education, and further development.

[Translate to English:] Portræt af institutleder Siri Beier Jensen, der står i klinikken på Institut for Odontologi og Oral Sundhed på Aarhus Universitet
Photo: Simon Fischel, AU Health

Siri Beier Jensen believes that term appointments are beneficial for all parties. Having a set end date for the appointment allows everyone to pause and reflect on whether they are still the right fit for the job, if they have the vision and drive, or if a change is needed.

Her own term as head of the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health ends with the month of July - and she will start again on August 1, 2024. She applied for the advertised position as head of the department, and the selection committee unanimously agreed that Siri Beier Jensen should continue to lead the department for the next six years, which includes three dental programs, 300 employees, 700 students, and 36,000 annual patient visits.

"I am very much looking forward to the new tasks the department faces. We have succeeded in many internal matters, so now we are ready to look ahead, move to the next phase, and further develop the department with a clear impact on society," says Siri Beier Jensen, emphasizing:

"I am most excited about continuing to work with the incredibly talented employees at the department and in the administrative units that support it. We have an excellent and committed team at all levels. With their core expertise in mind, employees and leaders at the department tackle tasks with knowledge, insight, and expertise. That really motivates me," says Siri Beier Jensen.

"A good work environment is not a given. It's a gift when it succeeds."

The first eight years with Siri Beier Jensen as head of the department have included significant internal transformation processes. The first was the merger between the Department of Dentistry and the School of Dental Assistants, Hygienists, and Clinical Dental Technicians, commonly abbreviated as SKT, to the current Department of Dentistry and Oral Health.

"The merger was not just an organisational fusion; it was also very much about the entire workplace culture. Today, we have the right people in the right positions in all functions of the department, and we work together in a completely different way than we did years ago. It brings positive energy to the entire department," says Siri Beier Jensen, elaborating:

"A healthy work environment and a good work culture are not a given. It's a gift when it succeeds. The department is in a good place right now, and looking back, it's probably the change in culture I am most proud of."

"We can soon reap the benefits, but not rest on our laurels."

The merger also marked the beginning of a restructuring of the department's programmes for dentists, dental hygienists, and clinical dental technicians. The curricula for all three programs have been revised so that the otherwise solid educational silos with orofacial kinship are instead thought of with synergy, knowledge sharing, and optimized collaboration in the orofacial team.

"Our skilled and dedicated students in all three programs are curious about each other's expertise, and they have been asking for greater knowledge of each other's areas of expertise for years so they could function as a team," says Siri Beier Jensen.

Outside of Denmark, this unique educational model is known as "The Aarhus Model of Dental Education."

"We have made all the drawings, built the model, and worked hard to rethink our programmess. And when I say 'we', much of the credit goes to the employees who skillfully have carried out the enormous work of revising the curricula," says Siri Beier Jensen, continuing:

"We are close to reaping the benefits of the great effort, but we cannot yet rest on our laurels. There is still much proactive and complex work to be done in the implementation, and I want to follow through and bring the Aarhus model into play for the benefit of society."

The first graduates from the new curricula of the three programs will emerge in the summer of 2026, winter of 2027, and summer of 2027, respectively.

The research environments need better conditions

Those who know and have worked with Siri Beier Jensen will often have heard her use the expression "keep your nose to the grindstone and move forward." This is also how she thinks about the tasks she now must solve as head of the department to advance the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health.

One of the upcoming tasks involves strengthening the dental research areas, recruiting scientific staff, creating good career development opportunities, and a sense of belonging for the department's skilled teachers and researchers.

"We have been understaffed in some of the dental fields. That’s too vulnerable. The next important task is therefore to consolidate the research environments so we can continue to deliver research-based education and have good conditions for the research-based development of dentistry. This is really important to me," explains Siri Beier Jensen.

We need to be better at highlighting our value

With more stability internally and many of the transformation processes well underway, Siri Beier Jensen now feels she can spend more time highlighting the department's place and value in health sciences and as a contributor to the healthcare system.

"We are an important part of the whole, and our expertise contributes to health promotion, disease control, and holistic treatment in the population. We need to get even better at sharing this with the outside world, preferably in increased interaction with other health professions," says Siri Beier Jensen, explaining:

"We need to bring our knowledge into play even more and make our influence felt wherever it is relevant and can make a difference - scientifically, qualifying for political decision-making and in the population. This is a task that I will spend even more energy on in the coming years."

In 2023, the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health received a special grant of DKK 625 million from the Ministry of Education and Research to increase the enrollment from 85 to 100 dental students per year over a four-year period to address the shortage of dentists in Denmark. The grant expires in 2030.

"It is important that we maintain political focus and secure the best possible financial framework for dental education and research in Denmark. I will be fighting for our expertise and the work we do," asserts Siri Beier Jensen.

The most important task is still the opportunities for the employees

The vision of increasing focus on the department's position in the world does not, according to Siri Beier Jensen, take her attention away from the internal aspects:

"My most important task as head of the department is to get the right people in the right positions, to ensure they have the framework to develop and thrive, and to listen to their professional insights and solutions. This is the core of my leadership and the recipe for a strong Department of Dentistry and Oral Health. I look forward to the development over the next six years. I’m sure it will be great."


Head of Department Siri Beier Jensen
Aarhus University, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health
Mobile: (+45) 93 50 85 25