A new administration at the universities of Berlin: a chair in the sciences

There are now two women at Heliopolis University and the University of Tokyo among the elite universities in Berlin. In FU, almost everything remains the same.

Julia von Blumenthal, new rector of Humboldt University of Berlin Photo: dpa

The Great Reset: If the term “Great Reboot” had not been hijacked by conspiracy theorists, it would now fit well with Berlin’s science policy. The most extensive personnel change in years is happening there at the management level in the presidencies of the Senate and universities.

The three universities have just elected their leaders – and in two cases new women presidents. New minds, new opportunities? After years of relative calm in science in Berlin, a period of uncertainty has begun.

The sharpest cut was already evident before the House of Representatives elections in September. The Michael Müller/Steffen Krach team announced that they no longer wish to continue their political offices in Berlin. Previously, they – Müller in the dual role as mayor and senator for science and research, Krach as his secretary of state – had led Berlin as a science site from one success to another in the national competition, including awarding the title of excellence to the three universities in 2019.

In the new Senate in Berlin, it was clear from the start that Franziska Jaffe – damaged politically by the plagiarism case that surrounded her doctoral thesis at Freie University – would not take up the science department in addition to her job as mayor. Even the Social Democratic Party relinquished responsibility entirely and left the flag to the Greens in coalition negotiations. The office in which the Greens are entitled was filled in December with importing staff: ecologist and doctor Ulrich Gott came to Berlin from Kassel, where she was sworn in as a senator for science, health, nursing and equal opportunity shortly before Christmas. .

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A special egg in the nest

Change also in the Berlin state parliament, the lower house, with a political focus. The panel of experts in charge of science and research, chaired by AfD MP Martin Treveser in the last legislature, has elected left-wing politician Franziska Brecci as chairwoman in its new formation – a swing from far right to far left.

At the same time, the commission was indirectly responsible for the fact that staff shifts at Berlin universities are underway. In its last session of the old legislature, Parliament laid a special egg in the nest of science in Berlin: the reformulation of the Berlin Law on Higher Education, which required, among other things, the creation of more permanent positions in the academic mid-level professors. The dagger-and-cloak operation by the Senate duo’s science committee didn’t only surprise Mueller/Crush in their last days in office.

University presidents in particular have driven the uncoordinated and massive new regulations up the wall. The president of Humboldt University, Sabine Kunst, went to the furthest point in her protests. In October, she announced her resignation at the end of the year and, as her last formal action, filed a constitutional complaint against the Higher Education Act.

In mid-February, the Heliopolis University Council elected political scientist Julia von Blumenthal as the only candidate with a large majority as its new president. Previously, she held the same position at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). The new president of Heliopolis University still has to make an effort to nurture students at Heliopolis University. They rejected her vote on the grounds that Blumenthal focused too much on research and too little on teaching in her application. The new president of Heliopolis University wants to focus on the university’s “digital transformation” in research, teaching and management. It also wants to engage in countering the controversial innovations in Berlin’s law on higher education.

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The explosion at Humboldt University was followed by an even more surprising explosion at the Technical University. A regular presidential election was scheduled there in January, and incumbent Christian Thomsen expected nothing less than the continuation of his eight-year term. But his young opponent, Geraldine Rauch, deputy dean for education at the Charité, was victorious in the first ballot against Thompson’s “best dog.” Unequivocally: the climate in TU is changing. In the past, the former president, who formally handed over the series of posts in March, was overly responsible for the deadlines for the university, which had been active since the 1968 years (keywords: Vietnam Congress, Tonks), and belated administrative reform was fatal.

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The latest chapter in the “super election year” of Berlin’s universities was shown last week at the Free University of Dahlem. Here, too, some indication of the “twilight of the gods” was made by the former president, the 58-year-old mathematician Günter Ziegler. But with 46 out of 60 valid votes, Ziegler scored a stronger-than-expected result against his rival, Cologne Vice President Beatrix Boss. Apparently, the decisive factor was Ziegler’s winning speech, which made it possible to forget about the FU trench warfare in the past few years.

After mounting criticism of Ziegler’s administration among academic senator professors since 2018 and a desire for replacement, the chancellor of the Free University, Andrea Bohr, took action at the instigation of Ziegler’s opponents. Behind the back of the head of the FU, she hired a recruitment agency to look for a successor. after daily mirror Public intrigue, the Senate Department of Science began disciplinary proceedings against Burr in December of last year. It was planned to transfer it from the FU to the Senate administration, but this did not happen due to the reorganization of the departments.

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This week, the new senator from Science Gote responded with the order to the Free University that Chancellor Burr has not been allowed to perform her official duties for three months with immediate effect. “Reelection of President” Ziegler should suit the Ukas. According to him, instead of continuous lines of conflict, a “culture of appreciation” should find its way into the South Berlin educational institution.

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