New President at FAU

After thirteen years as President of FAU, Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske handed over to Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger. (Image: Kurt Fuchs)

Joachim Hornegger replaces Karl-Dieter Grüske as the President of FAU

FAU celebrated the official appointment of Professor Dr. Joachim Hornegger as its new President and the retirement of Professor Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske with a ceremony attended by over 800 guests at the Audimax in Erlangen.

‘The most inspiring aspect of universitas in academia lies in its perpetual incompleteness and infinite forward-looking developments – even in fields which investigate the past,’ the new President of the University said in his inauguration speech. Professor Hornegger spoke on his intention to continue with existing initiatives including strategic reorganisation, construction plans and focusing on quality processes but also emphasised the importance of fostering an open and welcoming culture at FAU. ‘We need to encourage a welcoming culture for highly-qualified and talented individuals – from students to professors who wish to join us to everyone in technology and administration who makes FAU such a successful university. It is essential that we focus on our people.’

For FAU to be perceived as an attractive and welcoming university, Professor Hornegger emphasised the necessity of support from state and regional policy. ‘It’s often the surrounding image and culture of a university location which decides whether people stay or go.’

After the opening address spoken by Prof. Dr. Christoph Korbmacher, Vice President for International Affairs, the Bavarian Minister of Education, Science and the Arts, Dr. Ludwig Spaenle, paid tribute to the successful history of Professor Grüske’s leadership of FAU. ‘During Professor Grüske’s presidency, FAU has become an important research university in Europe and established an outstanding reputation in many fields in the global research community.’

In his opening remarks, Joachim Herrmann, Bavarian Minister of the Interior, commended Professor Grüske’s efforts to underpin interdisciplinary collaboration and networking at the university with strategic building measures to encourage high-profile research institutions to locate within close proximity to the university. The Bavarian Minister of the Interior stated that ‘Professor Grüske led FAU to becoming a university with an excellent research profile’.

Carolin Kister, speaker of the Students’ Representatives,reflected on positive co-operation with the former President of FAU. ‘Overall, we often shared common goals with Professor Grüske despite minor differences.’ Ms Kister welcomed Professor Hornegger as a team player and summarised important issues which students wish to see on future agendas.

In a humorous laudatory, Professor Johanna Haberer, former Vice President for Teaching and Learning, summarised Professors Grüske’s activities in twelve fairytale images and remarked ‘In the general chaos that a university president has to deal with, between research and reforms, local policy and politics, support and criticism, rankings and accreditation, tuition fees, excellence initiatives, performance allowances and internationalisation, student protests, commissions, associations and networking, Professor Grüske never lost the focus of turning a provincial and traditional university into a first-class research location which is appreciated by students, doctoral candidates, scientists and researchers from all over the world and a university which Minister’s also enjoy returning to to open a new research institution.’

In his parting speech, Professor Grüske reminisced over his thirteen-year term of office. ‘The only constant during this time was change’, Professor Grüske remarked and thanked his colleagues for their support during his office. ‘The increase in students from 20,000 to almost 40,000, a rise in third-party funding from 77 million to 180 million euros per year, more comprehensive examinations thanks to the Bologna Reform, an investment of 440 million euros in university buildings and 767 million euros in Universitätsklinikum Erlangen during my office – all of which were undertaken with hardly any increases in staff – are a testament to the hard work of everyone who took part in these successes at FAU.’

Professor Grüske’s humorous and anecdotal address was underpinned with experiences representing some of the most important milestones from his term of office, including targeted strategies, internationalisation, the academic environment, and construction and renovation work. In closing, Professor Grüske handed the chain of office to his successor with the parting words: ‘The presentation of the chain of office to the 154th incumbent symbolises a change of leadership which I feel is a positive step for the university and I undertake this last official act with great pleasure.’ He handed over the podium to his successor with a cheerful parting.

Rebecca Kunzelmann (vocals), Ulrich Nehls (piano), Prof Dr. Christoph Safferling (vocals) and FAU Director of Music, Prof. Dr Konrad Klek (piano) provided the musical accompaniment for the ceremony. The light show was designed by Andreas Hauslaib and Matthias Rex produced a film of commemorative speeches from many of Professor Grüske’s contemporaries.

On 28 November 2014, the University Council accepted the recommendation of the Presidential Appointment Committee and elected Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger unanimously as the successor of Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske. Professor Hornegger, a 47-year-old computer scientist, will serve a term of office of six years according to the Bavarian Higher Education Act. On 1 October 2011, Professor Hornegger was elected as Vice President for Research at FAU. Professor Hornegger has a wealth of experience in the management of academic affairs. In 2003, he was appointed as a professor of computer science at the Faculty of Engineering at FAU and from 2009 until 2011 he was speaker of the Department of Computer Science and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Engineering.

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