Dies academicus a pleasure to attend
Excitement was in the air. That was palpable for Theresia Bauer. There was a special reason why Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Science, Research and the Arts attended last Friday’s Dies academicus at the University of Konstanz. “Every beginning contains a magic of its own”, she stated, quoting Hermann Hesse, as she inducted Professor Dr Kerstin Krieglstein to the office of university rector. Kerstin Krieglstein expressed her pleasure, in turn, at being able to celebrate her first Dies academicus in Konstanz.
The minister further mentioned that Kerstin Krieglstein is the third woman to lead a university in Baden-Württemberg. She considered Krieglstein to be the kind of leader who “is confident enough to calmly listen to others before making a measured decision” and then worked with great determination and authority to develop broadly-supported, sustainable solutions.
Bauer described the University of Konstanz’s latest success in the German Excellence Strategy as “superb”. In this context, she honoured the “excellent” contributions of Professor Dr Ulrich Rüdiger, predecessor to Kerstin Krieglstein. “We are proud of the University of Konstanz and its success”, said the minister. To recapitulate: On 27 September, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Council of Science and Humanities announced that two of the Clusters of Excellence approved for funding through the German Excellence Strategy were from the University of Konstanz. This means that the university is still in the race for University of Excellence status.
Kerstin Krieglstein took a moment to reflect on the 27th of September and thank all the researchers involved for their “exceptional success”. She mentioned that the University of Konstanz is one of only six German universities to have received funding through the Excellence programme since 2007. Her main motivation for applying to become the university’s rector was its uniqueness. Kerstin Krieglstein came to Konstanz from the University of Freiburg, which is located in the same federal state. It is both a privilege and a challenge to work in a state “with a clear commitment to research and teaching”, stated the rector.
Students underscored the importance of teaching at the beginning of the Dies academicus by using the minister’s visit as an opportunity to protest against tuition fees for students from countries outside the EU, amongst other things. “Access to education is extremely important”, Theresia Bauer agreed with the students. Opinions could potentially differ on how to provide such access. “I am interested in a discussion”, she added.
Before students and researchers were presented their awards, a guest from Berlin came to the podium: Dr Guido Heinen proved himself to be both a sharp-witted and amusing speaker, as he spoke on the relationship between science and politics. As Director of the Research Services Division of the German Bundestag, he was able to provide insight into the scientific research and analysis provided to members of the Bundestag. A keen sense of fun with research and teaching became evident when the short films honouring the university’s laureates and their work were presented. The films were produced by Andreas Urra from the university’s Communication, Information, Media Centre (KIM).
Both the films and their protagonists contributed to the enjoyable programme at this year’s Dies academicus. Both presenters and the audience really enjoyed themselves, and the celebratory nature of the event was also highlighted by the chamber ensemble “Campus”.