A senior UiB official returns to her roots
The Department of Comparative Politics has a new professor, but she’s no junior staffer. Until recently she was the University of Bergen’s second-in-command.
Anne Lise Fimreite joined the department in August following a four-year term as UiB’s elected deputy rector.
In that job, she jokes, “you’re a walking disappointment. All people want the rector to come to their events,” but instead, they only get his deputy.
In reality, Fimreite’s accomplishments as deputy rector are noteworthy.
She played a key role in developing the university’s new six-year research strategy, “Ocean, life, society,” a process she says was contentious yet highly collaborative – “a very interesting experience.”
Then there were the many committees she led: the research committee, the committee for research ethics, the various ad hoc panels at the university and national levels.
And of course, there was the time she became “godmother” to a submarine. Fimreite presided over the 2015 launch of Norway’s new underwater research vessel, the Ægir 6000, which was christened when it smashed a beer bottle using its automated arm.
But after years in university governance, Fimreite was ready to return to her roots.
“I am a professor, and want to be a professor,” she says. “To be away too long would mean a shift in career that I was not ready for. Coming back now means many active years before retirement.”
Fimreite is an expert on municipal and regional governance, and is currently preparing a paper on Norwegian local government reform.
She also focuses on homeland security, which was the subject of her best-known book. Organisering, samfunnssikkerhet og krisehåndtering, co-edited with Peter Lango, Per Lægreid and Lise Hellebø Rykkja, came out just months before the 2011 terror attack in Oslo and Utøya.
And of course, she’s interested in Nordic politics. Next term she will teach SAMPOL 120, Scandinavian Politics and Government.
Indeed, Fimreite says her dream project is to study Scandinavian politics through literature. “There is so much politics to be learned from literature,” she says. “This has become a hobby for me. No wonder, my dad was a librarian, so I more or less grew up in a library.”
Fimreite earned her doctorate at UiB in 1996, examining school reforms in Norway and England.
She then worked at NSD – the Norwegian Centre for Research Data – and at the respected social-science think tank the Rokkan Centre.
In 2001, she joined SAMPOL’s sister-department, Administration and Organization Theory, eventually serving as its deputy chair. In 2009 she became the vice-dean of research for UiB’s Faculty of Social Sciences, before moving on to rector’s office in 2013.
A Bergenser nearly all her life, Fimreite still resides in the same part of town where she grew up, Laksevåg, an old working-class district where she says she feels very much at home.
In her rare free moments, she spends time with family and friends, and reads – most recently, Roy Jacobsen’s Helgeland trilogy: “Really interesting,” she says, “if you want to understand Norway and the relationship between the centre and periphery.”