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Robert Petersen 1928 - 2021


It is with great sadness that we have received the news of Robert Petersen's passing.

Ilisimatusarfik and Greenland have lost a giant.

We have lost a giant, because Robert Petersen's work was enormous - and he was a pioneer in most.

Robert was the first Inuit researcher to do international research - and he was the first Greenlandic professor of what was then called Eskimology at the University of Copenhagen.

Robert was also Ilisimatusarfik's first rector - from 1987 until his retirement in 1995.

Robert took the lead, spearheading and helping to found what we know today as Ilisimatusarfik.

From the very beginning, he placed great emphasis on Ilisimatusarfik striving to be an international university - and in this way, Robert has been crucial to Ilisimatusarfik and to Ilisimatusarfik's cohesion in Greenlandic society.

Robert's work was also enormous, versatile, and broad, because he had so much knowledge and so many skills.

Many of the projects and developments that Robert initiated as rector of Ilisimatusarfik are still valid today - from the way he organized education and research in his time to the interdisciplinary teaching and research.

In this way, Robert has also had a crucial impact on higher education and research in Greenland - and the rest of us have been fortunate to be able to build on his great work and foundation.

Everything Robert did was for the good of Ilisimatusarfik and Greenland - and without Robert, Ilisimatusarfik would not be the university it is today.

Ilisimatusarfik and Greenland owe Robert a debt of gratitude.

That is why Ilisimatusarfik awarded Robert with an honorary doctorate in 2010 - again as the first.

To be considered for an honorary doctorate at Ilisimatusarfik, you must have made a substantial and significant contribution at an international level.

If anyone, Robert did just that.

No one above - no one next to.

With the passing of Robert Petersen, Ilisimatusarfik and Greenland have lost a giant.


On 25 October, the flags fly at half-mast at Ilisimatusarfik to honor Robert Petersen.

In respect of Robert Petersen's memory.


On behalf of Ilisimatusarfik;

Rector Gitte Adler Reimer & the board at Ilisimatusarfik

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