FAU congratulates former president Grüske on his birthday

Karl-Dieter Grüske
Karl-Dieter Grüske (Image: FAU/Georg Pöhlein)

Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske celebrates 75th birthday

FAU President Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger was hoping to honour the 75th birthday of his predecessor Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske with a reception but the plans unfortunately had to be abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic. Grüske, an economist, served at FAU from 2002 to 2015, initially as rector and then as president from 2010. During his tenure, Grüske reformed the university structure and successfully accompanied two excellence initiatives. He also laid the groundwork for establishing the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL), the Max Planck Centre for Physics and Medicine (MPZPM) and the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nuremberg for Renewable Energies (HI ERN).

Prof. Dr Karl-Dieter Grüske was born in Erlangen on 11 December 1946. He studied economics in Erlangen, Nuremberg and Munich. From 1972 to 1988, he was assistant and Akademischer Oberrat to Prof. Horst Claus Recktenwald at the Institute of Public Finance of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at FAU, where he received his doctorate in 1978 with a dissertation on the redistributive effects of the public budget. For his habilitation thesis, he was awarded the FAU Habilitation Prize and the highly endowed Wolfgang Ritter Prize (Bremen) in 1986. After several stays abroad, among others at renowned universities in the USA, he moved to the Institute for Economy and Society at Wissenschaftszentrum Bonn as a scientific project manager in 1988. In 1991, he was appointed as the Chair of Public Finance at FAU.

At FAU, Prof. Grüske was involved in university politics from the very beginning: from 1994 to 1996, he was dean of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at FAU, from 1996 to 2000, he was a member of the Senate and from 2000 to 2002, he served as pro-rector before finally becoming rector and later president of FAU In March 2015, he handed over to his successor, Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger.

From structural reform to system accreditation

Grüske developed a new mission statement and defined overarching research priorities for FAU. A new Higher Education Act at the beginning of his term marked the transition from a subordinate to an autonomous university. Grüske used the provisions allowing the university greater autonomy to achieve one of his greatest successes, which certainly include the structural reform that he pushed through persistently and against considerable resistance: in the end, the former eleven faculties became today’s five faculties and their departments, enabling clear structures for quick decisions. He also championed internationalisation, for example by bringing the Bavarian University Centre for Latin America to FAU. Under his leadership, the Emerging Fields Initiative was also founded at FAU – an FAU-internal funding line that supports original interdisciplinary projects with a high risk. In teaching and education, Grüske guided the complex introduction of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes at FAU. His work also led to FAU becoming one of the few universities in Germany that is entitled to award the seal of the Accreditation Council to its degree programmes itself after an internal procedure. During his tenure, the number of students at FAU increased from 21,000 to almost 40,000. With the introduction of tenure track procedures and junior professorships, he promoted the next generation of young researchers. In the FAU 2030 vision, Grüske focused on expansion and renovation, including early negotiations with Siemens on the Himbeerpalast building.

Beyond FAU

Prof. Grüske also devoted himself intensively to higher education policy beyond FAU. For example, he was chairman of Universität Bayern e.V. from 2009 to 2011, and vice president of the Virtual University of Bavaria (vhb) from 2002 to 2016. From 2008 to 2014 he was elected Vice President for Research of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) and in 2008 he was appointed Honorary Professor of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing, China. The Centre for Higher Education Development (CHE) nominated him three times as ‘Higher Education Manager of the Year’.

In 2010, the Federal President of Germany awarded Prof. Grüske the Order of Merit for his services. In 2015, he was honoured with the Bavarian Constitutional Medal, and in 2016 with the Schöller Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Dr. Theo and Friedel Schöller Foundation.

Recognised expert

Due to his vast knowledge and experience, Prof. Grüske was and is a valued member of numerous committees. In 1993, he was appointed as a member of the Advisory Council for Family Affairs at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth, of which he was a member until 2010. During the years 1993 to 2006, he served as chairman of the Society for the Advancement of Research in Public Finance. From 1997 to 2000, he was a member of the Advisory Council for Administrative Reform of the Hessian Ministries and Universities; he has also been involved in several other committees for university reforms and a member of the standing committees for economics and education economics in the German Economic Association. From 1999 to 2003, he also acted as a member of the Advisory Council of the German Institute for Youth in Munich. From 2002 to 2014, he was a member of the Board of Directors of Sparkasse Erlangen. From 2008 to 2019, he served as chairman of the Advisory Board for Research Migration at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. From 2008 to 2014 he was a member of the Senate of the DFG, and from 2012 to 2015 he was a member of the Board of Trustees of the DAAD.

Following retirement, Grüske continues to be active as a member of the board of the German-Chinese Society of Anti Aging and Biomedicine International – GABMI based in Beijing, as a supervisory board member of a software startup, as an advisory board member of the FAU University Association and as a member of the Advisory Board of the Foundation for the Promotion of the HRK; since 2018, he has served as chairman of the HRK Foundation Advisory Board.

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