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Big Red Vikings: Heilmann Scholarship reunion brings together Denmark's economic leaders

Flemming and Judy Heilmann, center, surrounded by past and present Heilmann Scholars and faculty from the University of Copenhagen, at the May 24 reunion and awards ceremony in Copenhagen, Denmark. The program is administered by Professor Peter Erling Nilesen, director of studies for the University of Copenhagen's Department of Economics, visible at far left. Photo: Sarah Hale.

On May 24, U.S. Ambassador Laurie Fulton hosted the 15th reunion of Flemming and Judy Heilmann Scholarship recipients at her Copenhagen residence. Established by the Heilmanns, the scholarship is awarded once a year to a visiting research student from Denmark who is enrolled at Cornell and studying free market and entrepreneurial economics.

The event was abuzz with more than 50 attendees, including the Heilmanns and 25 past scholars and runners-up. Also present were distinguished guests including Peter Dyvig and Michael Mørch (former Danish ambassadors to the U.S.), Marie Mønsted (the head of the Fulbright Commission in Denmark) and delegates from Copenhagen University Peter Erling Nielsen (director of studies of the Department of Economics) and Niels Thygesen (professor of economics emeritus). Sarah Hale, associate dean for student services at the Graduate School, represented Cornell.

At the end of the evening, Fulton presented the scholarship to the latest recipient, Camilla Ringsted, followed by a speech from Flemming Heilmann. To the crowd's delight, Judy Heilmann presented Ringsted with a Big Red sweatshirt.

Camilla Ringsted, the latest (and 15th) recipient of the Heilmann Scholarship, received a Cornell sweatshirt presented by Judy Heilmann at a reception at the Copenhagen home of Ambassador Laurie Fulton on May 24. Also visible at back right is Kasper Lorenzen, the first recipient of the Heilmann Scholarship. Photo: Sarah Hale.

A graduate student at Copenhagen University's Economic Institute, Ringsted is teaching microeconomics at the university while pursuing her master's degree. She is excited to deepen her research into market risk assessment and reduction through statistics and mathematical finance. "Enrolling at Cornell makes it possible to increase my focus, as the statistics department, the Department of Economics, and the engineering school all offer related seminars as well as courses which can be combined in a way that would not be possible at Copenhagen University," she said in an interview.

Apart from celebrating Ringsted's scholarship, the evening also honored the Heilmanns, who through their philanthropy strengthen ties between Denmark and the United States and promote a greater understanding of capitalist economics. Flemming Heilmann stated that "the free market system, both nationally and internationally, with its open flow of international trade, labor and capital, are the sine qua non of global economic health and sustainable development."

"Cyclical swings or extraordinary convulsions in the markets do not invalidate the free market truism in the long term, so we continue to believe in the value and benefits of this program," he added.

Despite turbulence in the global economy, the scholarship endowment's payout has increased over its 15 years. "Thanks to the Cornell Foundation's excellent stewardship of the 1995 endowment, the value of the annual award has steadily increased from $10,000 in 1996 to today's peak of $20,000," Flemming Heilmann said. "Meanwhile, Cornell consistently gives our scholars invaluable access to some of the planet's very finest minds and teachers in the relevant fields of economics and finance."

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