Berlin’s Senator for Science, Ulrike Gote, has entrusted Peter Frensch with performing the official business of the President of the Humboldt-Universität on a temporary basis. Her decision accords with the recommendation from the HU’s Academic Council and Board of Governors.
This step became necessary due to the resignation of the incumbent, Prof. Dr-Ing. Dr Sabine Kunst, at the end of 2021. Peter Frensch will hold the office on a provisional basis until a successor to the outgoing president has been appointed. The election of the new president is scheduled for 15th February 2022.
"I am very thankful for the trust placed in me," says Frensch. "In view of the ongoing pandemic, the realignments in university policy at a federal and state level with respect to staffing and subject matter, and the turbulence surrounding the amended Berlin Higher Education Act, the Humboldt-Universität currently finds itself in not particularly calm waters. It is thus all the more important that we continue to work with commitment and without interruption on all the urgent tasks and challenges that are on the Humbolt-Universität’s agenda and which were decisively driven forward by the outgoing President."
The HU President’s Executive Council is paying particular attention to clarifying questions concerning the employment of young academics in posts funded by the university’s own budget, which was newly regulated in the Berlin Higher Education Act. The President’s Executive Council, headed by Peter Frensch, considers itself duty-bound to develop creative and long-term solutions together with the university’s governing bodies, faculties and departments that enable the law to be implemented in a sensible way.
"It’s about reliable framework conditions"
At the same time, the President’s Executive Council sees the need to have the legal certainty of the act clarified in Karlsruhe. "One must and can expect the management of a university to take such a step in order to avert any possible damage to those affected and the university - that is, when, as in this case, the legal status of an act that entails significant consequences for the university as a whole is unclear," says Peter Frensch. "Ultimately, it is about creating secure and reliable framework conditions for implementing the law, and, most notably, for the career paths of the next generation."
This is because, contrary to what the legislator intends, the career prospects of young academics have not become more secure with the entry into force of the controversial Section 110, but rather more insecure. The lack of appropriate framework conditions has meant that existing contracts with young academics for positions funded by university budgetary funds are not being renewed for the time being, and that new ones can only be concluded in a few cases.
Edelgard Bulmahn, Chair of the Board of Governors at the HU:
"Mr Frensch will continue to lead the Humboldt-Universität in the right direction, along the course it took during the term of office of Ms Kunst. We are delighted that he was able to take on this task at such short notice."
The other members of the President’s Executive Council are Dr Ludwig Kronthaler, Vice President for Finance, Human Resources and Operations, Christoph Schneider, Vice President for Research, and Niels Pinkwart, Vice President for Academic Affairs.
About Peter Frensch
Peter Frensch has been Professor of Psychology at the Humboldt-Universität since 1998. From 2009 to 2010, he was Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. He was subsequently Vice President for Research for ten years until 2021. During this time, he visibly advanced research at the Humboldt-Universität and improved the framework conditions for researchers, resulting in the HU’s position at the global forefront in many fields internationally.
His contribution towards and influence on the successes of the HU in the competitions of the federal and state governments - the Excellence Initiative and the Excellence Strategy - cannot be overestimated. The formative and integrative role his work had in the HU’s success in both competitions must be emphasised. This was particularly evident most recently when the application for the Berlin University Alliance was completed.
As a professor of psychology, Frensch’s areas of focus are the development of awareness of regularly occurring events in one’s environment, implicit learning and memory, the acquisition of cognitive skills, the role of language in behavioural regulation, and computer models of learning and knowledge representation. He received several prizes for teaching in the USA while an assistant and associate professor there from 1989 to 1998. From 2010 to 2012, Peter Frensch held the office of President of the German Psychological Society. He was President of the International Congress of Psychology that was held in Berlin in 2006.
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