Sharing knowledge

The TUM Senior Excellence Faculty also organizes scientific events, such as the
The TUM Senior Excellence Faculty also organizes scientific events, such as the Africa Symposium in November 2018 in Garching in cooperation with the TUM School of Governance. Image: Uli Benz / TUM

As a TUM Emerita or Emeritus of Excellence, selected retired scientists play an active role in the life of the university. They see themselves as TUM ambassadors, sharing their wealth of experience to benefit others.

"I spent many years exploring how knowledge can be communicated and I want to share this experience with others," says Kristina Reiss. The professor of mathematical didactics officially retired in April 2021. However: "As long as I feel that I can make a difference, I will keep working." She supervises doctoral and postdoctoral candidates, organizes continuing education seminars for teachers and recently published continuing education materials in statistics in three languages in cooperation with the nonprofit foundation Siemens Stiftung. TUM President Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann appointed Prof. Reiss as an Emerita of Excellence in 2021 along with four other colleagues.

The idea of inviting retired scientists, with their strengths and talents, to play an active role in the development of TUM originally came from the former TUM president Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, who once summed up the profile as follows: "The TUM Emeriti of Excellence concept is based on several criteria: first-class scientific achievement at the international level, combined with an extensive track record for outstanding academic teaching and strong engagement extending beyond their field and benefiting the university as a whole." From his point of view they are "dedicated ambassadors of a modern university". The honorary title of TUM Emerita or Emeritus of Excellence has been awarded annually since 2006. The TUM Senior Excellence Faculty now has 77 members, including the President Emeritus.

TUM Emeriti of Excellence work on a voluntary basis to support the development and consolidation of research institutes and serve as mentors for gifted students and young researchers. They are members of faculty appointment committees and, with their worldwide contacts, promote the internationalization of the university. Some members continue to conduct research, procure third-party funding and make important contributions to leading-edge research - for example Prof. Andrzej Buras , who in 2020 received the Max Planck Medal, Germany’s most prestigious award in theoretical physics.

The TUM Emeriti of Excellence also organize symposia in the TUM Forum Sustainability series. These events address current issues in the sciences and society and facilitate the networking of groups with different professional competencies. The emeriti create discussion spaces and share the results with the general public.

They also contribute their expertise, experience and scientific reputation by taking on strategically important functions, for example Prof. Angelika Görg as the first Vice President Compliance at TUM, Prof. Arnulf Melzer as the representative of the president for fundraising, and Prof. Michael Molls as the director of the TUM Institute for Advanced Study (TUM-IAS) and spokesman of the TUM Senior Excellence Faculty.

At Prof. Molls’ initiative, the volume "Science, Reason & Responsibility" was created in the summer of 2020. It is intended as food for thought for the post-pandemic era. "The objective of the TUM Senior Excellence Faculty is to collect a diverse range of specialized perspectives from the standpoint of scientific responsibility and thus to contribute to a sustainably viable future," says Prof. Molls. The symposia, which have been held on a regular basis since 2016, are also committed to an interdisciplinary approach and promoting intergenerational dialog. For example, at the symposium on the circular economy, working groups of emeriti and private-sector experts were flanked by student groups from the Chair of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Systems. "The event brought together young people and seasoned professionals who were able to benefit from each others’ experiences," says Prof. Molls.

This sense of community and the institutional support from the project team, as experienced by the TUM Senior Excellence Faculty at TUM, is highly appreciated by Kristina Reiss: "A community can set goals that may be a bit beyond the reach of individuals. Together you always achieve more."