Part-time Vice Rectors for University Culture and for Internationalisation and Sustainability elected

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Melanie Arndt and Sylvia Paletschek. Photo: Patrick Seeger
Melanie Arndt and Sylvia Paletschek. Photo: Patrick Seeger

The University of Freiburg Senate has elected Sylvia Paletschek as Vice Rector for University Culture for a second term. The Freiburg historian Melanie Arndt succeeds Daniela Kleinschmit, Vice Rector for Internationalisation and Sustainability, who chose not to run for the post again. The new term begins on 1 April 2024.

"I would like to sincerely thank Sylvia Paletschek and Daniela Kleinschmit for their outstanding commitment over the past three years and congratulate Melanie Arndt and Sylvia Paletschek on their election. The diverse fields of action from the Vice Rectorates University Culture and Internationalisation and Sustainability are among the cornerstones of the overall strategic direction at the University of Freiburg," says Rector Kerstin Krieglstein. "The areas of university culture, internationalisation and sustainability will be even more strongly reflected in our core tasks in the coming years and will further strengthen the development of the University as a place of research, learning and societal dialogue aligned with an innovative future."

Equitable, inclusive, anti-discriminatory

Sylvia Paletschek has been Professor of 19th and 20th Century History at the Department of History at the University of Freiburg since 2001. Her research interests include the University’s history and history of science, women’s and gender history and historical culture. Vice Rector Paletschek is responsible for the areas of academic staff development, equality and diversity, which are important activities for cultural change at the University.

The milestones of her first term of office include the development of a new mission statement for the University of Freiburg and the creation of an equality plan for the years 2024-2028. In addition, Paletschek has already initiated various projects and plans that are to be realised during her second term of office. These include a contact point for discrimination and abuse of power, management guidelines and a management programme to professionalise the management and support culture at the University of Freiburg, as well as a framework concept for the further development of career prospects for mid-level academic staff.

"My goal is to develop the University of Freiburg into an equal-opportunity, inclusive and anti-discriminatory university with attractive career, study and working conditions. This requires a cultural change, but also structural changes. Initiating these and implementing them in dialogue with the faculties, the various committees, departments and status groups at the University is both an incentive and motivation for my second term of office," says Sylvia Paletschek.

"My goal is to continue working together to find ways to make our University even more sustainable and international."

Melanie Arndt has been Chair for Economic, Social and Environmental History at the University of Freiburg since April 2020. She has led several international research projects and, as part of her research on environmental history, investigates the interactions between societies and nature. The social and economic dimensions of sustainability are also an integral part of her research, currently focussing in particular on the history of energy and heat supply.

"I have very big shoes to fill and I am very grateful to be able to build on the important work of my predecessor. An impressive amount has happened in the area of sustainability in particular during my last term of office, as evidenced not least by our university’s exceptionally good performance in the QS World University Ranking: Sustainability 2024 ," says Melanie Arndt. "My goal is to continue working together to find ways to make our university even more sustainable and international. At the same time, I see it as our task to continue working with non-university partners to provide impetus that reaches far into our societies. It is particularly important to me to further promote the internationalisation of the University of Freiburg."

Melanie Arndt succeeds Daniela Kleinschmit, who has been Professor of Forest and Environmental Policy at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Freiburg since 2014. In future, Daniela Kleinschmit will be devoting more time to her research projects. "I will also be taking over the presidency of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations - IUFRO in mid-2024," says Kleinschmit. "In this role, I will also benefit from the valuable experience I have gained over the past three years as Vice Rector."

During her time in office, Kleinschmit played a leading role in initiating and driving forward the establishment of the Sustainability Innovation Campus in collaboration with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Other milestones included the formation of a university-wide sustainability council, which develops cross-cutting goals and measures for the University in the area of sustainability and serves as a permanent platform for dialogue. She also established the Young Academy for Sustainability Research and drove forward the development of the " Sustainability Certificate " degree programme. In the area of internationalisation, Kleinschmit launched a new strategy, existing university partnerships were adjusted and new partnerships were targeted.

The Senate elects the part-time Vice Rectors from among the full-time professors at the University of Freiburg by a majority of its voting members based on the Rector’s recommendation. The election takes place at the end of the first term of office. The next term of office begins on 1 April 2024 and normally lasts three years, but always ends with the term of office of the Rector in accordance with legal requirements.