New Vice President People, Andreas Hirsch, talks about his experience of leadership in service of our FAU.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch
Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch, Lehrstuhl für Organische Chemie II und Vizepräsident People. (Bild: FAU/Giulia Iannicelli)

Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch, Chair of Organic Chemistry II has recently been appointed as Vice President People. In his new position, Andreas Hirsch is responsible for the development of academic and administrative staff. In our interview, he explains his plans for his term of office and which tasks he intends to tackle.

Professor Hirsch, you have several leadership roles at FAU: you are speaker of a collaborative research center and a graduate school, research coordinator for a cluster, director of two institutes and now Vice President People. How do you still manage to find time for research and teaching?

That is a very good question that I also asked myself when the President offered me the role of Vice President. Initially, I was wary of taking on too much, as the range of tasks is very broad indeed. However, I plan to organize my time so that I can focus entirely on my research and managing the Chair of Organic Chemistry II for at least two days a week. In any case, I am delighted and honored to accept the office of Vice President and serve our university community and I am also looking forward to the challenges that the position entails.

You have been particularly successful in attracting third-party funding, having already received two ERC Advanced Grants, which is a rare occurrence. How do you intend to use this expertise in your new role as Vice President People?

When researchers apply for funding, it is essential that they make reference to the university environment and cross-sectional tasks such as equal opportunities, internationalization and promoting young researchers. These are important factors in being successful in competitive funding applications. As a researcher, I have followed these structural aspects of the university intensely. Now as a Vice President, I can contribute my experience in these areas and represent cross-sectional tasks from the perspective of active researchers and applicants. I would also like to add that in recent years, FAU has made a great deal of progress in managing cross-sectional tasks thanks to the commitment of many talented heads of department.

Which tasks do you plan to take on during your term of office?

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Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch, Vice President People and Chair of Organic Chemistry II at FAU. (Image: FAU/Giulia Iannicelli)

One of my tasks that falls in the area of People is promoting the interests of young researchers. Excellence in promoting young researchers is one of the most important investments that we can make in the future of our university. We need to put a great deal of effort and energy into attracting outstanding talent to FAU. A further important task is increasing the number of female professors at FAU. We have a representative number of female students but there is still room for improvement at higher qualification levels. Throughout the university, we need to create an atmosphere that motivates and supports women who make the decision to set out on an academic career. We need even more successful role models who can inspire young women to follow in their footsteps. Internationalization is another key area – meaning the visibility of our university in other countries and the quality of international networks that are capable of attracting outstanding international researchers to FAU. Through transcending borders, we can promote scientific exchange and establish further partnerships in other countries. The development of administrative staff is also an important priority for us and falls under my remit as Vice President People. Working together and offering career perspectives is of fundamental importance for the development of our university.

Does your new role include any aspects that you didn’t expect?

Yes, there have been some aspects in my role that I wasn’t quite expecting. I have become a member of several internal and external working groups by virtue of my office in People, which also have a broad public impact. One example is a working group in the area of migration in Middle Franconia and to which the mayor of Nuremberg also belongs. I was not expecting to be immediately involved in areas that also have a wider impact on society. However, this area is connected with an important question and challenge for the future: What do people think of FAU outside the university and how can we improve our contribution to society?


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In the current issue of alexander, you will find fascinating articles on yield losses in energy markets for renewable energies and why this is happening, on artificial tissue made of spider silk, on theater culture in the 17th century, on the third mission of education, on the university hacking group FAUST and the Squirrels, an eSports group, as well as interviews with the new Vice President People Prof. Andreas Hirsch and the new FAU Ambassador Günther Weiss.

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