Lars Qvistgaard '89
2021 Recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award for Professional Achievement
Lars Qvistgaard traveled to Waukesha as an international student in the 1980s, seeking an education at Carroll which he credits now for the large impact it had on both his professional career and private life.
His Carroll experience helped shape and refine his insights and interest for modern politics and political institutions. It also provided him the opportunity to meet the love of his life, Ellen Weber-Qvistgaard ‘90, which has led to raising three wonderful children together.
At Carroll, he was the first president of the International Student Organization, member of Amnesty International, History Club and served on Homecoming court his senior year. He was recognized with honors from Delta Sigma Nu and was awarded the History Department Award. Qvistgaard graduated from Carroll in 1989 with a bachelor of arts degree in history and political science.
Today, Qvistgaard is the president of Akademikerne: The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations, an umbrella organization for 27 member organizations offering services to professional and managerial staff who graduated from universities and other higher educational institutions. They serve over 431,000 members which equals about 1/5 of the Danish labor force.
Overall, Qvistgaard views his mission and job as working for the community to ensure students and workers earn a decent living. Unlike in the United States, professional associations and unions throughout Scandinavia are central and play an integral role in regulating the labor market and many other areas of politics related to the welfare state. All postsecondary education is managed through publicly governed institutions, which includes eight public universities. Likewise, students at these institutions are offered stipends that to a large degree, cover living costs and study supplies. Nearly half of all people with a college degree and beyond are organized in a professional association.
All these associations are members of Akademikerne of which Qvistgaard is the elected president. During his presidency, the association has managed to increase the number of member organizations, adding a total of nearly 35,000 extra members. Qvistgaard is widely known as a highly influential player in relation to the Danish government regarding educational policy and is regarded as one of the top 10 of political organizational influencers in Denmark.
A very central part of Akademikerne is to negotiate collective agreements for all public employees with a tertiary degree, as well as all legislation regarding students, faculty and content of the education at the Danish colleges and universities. Qvistgaard is responsible for negotiating tri-partite agreements between the Danish government, the Danish Employer Organizations and the labor organizations. The content of these agreements has in later years addressed the integration of refugees and how to finance and improve lifelong learning in the Danish workforce. In the last year, the Danish government has had a high degree of consultation with high level labor representatives, in regards to the handling of the Covid-crisis, in which Qvistgaard has been a participant.
One of his most notable achievements was to lay the groundwork for legislation which gives the same control and sanctions to psychological occupational hazards as with physical hazards, serving as an advocate for those with stress, depression, job strain, etc. Supported by strong evidence from a plethora of meticulous longitudinal studies, a link between the psychosocial work environment and consequences on employees’ physical health is significant, including increased risks for hypertension and heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders, gastro-intestinal disorders, and impaired immuno-competence.
Prior to his role current role at Akademikerne, Qvistgaard worked for the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Food, Fisheries and Agriculture overseeing the finances and provided the guidance and support on merging all administrative functions for all national agencies and departments into the Agency for Governmental Administration.
Qvistgaard is a member of the board of directors of ATP Lifelong Pension, which is the largest pension fund in Denmark managing assets of more than 800 billion Danish Kroner (DKR). The pension fund is an important supplement to public pensions for the whole work force in Denmark assuring a certain degree of welfare for all. He is also a board member of LD pensions managing more than 20 billion DKR, and vice chairman on the board of directors of Lån and Spar Bank, a midsize Danish bank.
Qvistgaard also serves as member of the Danish Government’s Advisory Council on Occupational Hazards, Advisory Council on Labor Policy, Trade Union Advisory Committee and Economic Council contributing to independent council on sustainability and soundness of public finances in Denmark. He is also an active volunteer having served as president of the school board at Balsmoseskolen and currently serves as president of Scherffenberg-Møller Foundation, providing stipends to students in high school and college.
He is a member of the executive committee of the Council of Nordic Trade Unions and a member of The Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD. In 2019, he was selected for Kraks Blå Bog, equivalent of Marquis Who’s Who in the USA.
Qvistgaard earned a Master of Law from Copenhagen University in 1995 and a Master of Public Governance from Copenhagen Business School in 2015. Interestingly, he is also an annual participant to the Danish Queen Margrethe’s New Year Reception.