Irmgard Förster elected Vice Rector for Equal Opportunities and Diversity

University management reaches gender parity for the first time

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The future Rectorate, from left: Provost Holger Gottschalk, Maren Bennewitz, Klaus Sandmann, Annette Scheersoi, Rector Michael Hoch, Irmgard Förster, Birgit Münch and Andreas Zimmer. Photo: Gregor Hübl/Uni Bonn

The Electoral Assembly of the University of Bonn has elected four female and zwo male vice rectors who will take office in May 2021. The Assembly, consisting of members of the Senate and the University Council, convened online due to the pandemic. Voting took place by postal ballot.

Following the re-election of Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Hoch for a second term of four years in October 2020, the Assembly has now confirmed the vice rectors Professor Hoch had originally proposed. This completes his team for the second term starting in April. Two additional areas of responsibility have been created and the Vice Rectorates have been redefined. For the first time, the Rectorate of the University of Bonn maintains gender parity: Bonn is the second University of Excellence in Germany to have equal participation of women and men in its principal governing body.

The newly elected vice rectors are:

  • Vice Rector for Digitalization and Information Management: Prof. Dr. Maren Bennewitz (47), Professor for Humanoid Robots, Institute for Computer Science
  • Vice Rector for Equal Opportunities and Diversity: Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster (59), Professor for Immunology and Environment, Life & Medical Sciences (LIMES) Institute
  • Vice Rector for International Affairs: Prof. Dr. Birgit Münch (45), Professor for Art History, Institute of Art History
  • Vice Rector for Studies, Teaching and University Development: Prof. Dr. Klaus Sandmann (59), Professor for Financial Market Economics, Institute of Financial Market Economics and Statistics
  • Vice Rector for Sustainability: Prof. Dr. Annette Scheersoi (48), Professor for Didactics of Biology, Nees Institute for Plant Biodiversity
  • Vice Rector for Research and Early Career Researchers: Prof. Dr. Andreas Zimmer (61), Professor of Molecular Psychiatry, Institute for Molecular Psychiatry

The vice rectors fill their role in part-time and form the Rectorate together with Rector Michael Hoch and Provost Holger Gottschalk. Rector Michael Hoch, Vice Rector Maren Bennewitz and Vice Rectors Klaus Sandmann and Andreas Zimmer will begin their second terms in May.

Rector Michael Hoch was pleased that the Assembly followed his proposals with a vast majority: "With their decision, the members of the Senate and the University Council are giving me and my team the support we need for the tasks ahead. Together with the students, researchers, professors and technical and administrative staff, we want to secure the University of Bonn’s status as a location for excellent research and teaching into the future and drive further developments, not least with regard to ongoing internationalization. This particularly applies to the topics of equal opportunity and diversity, sustainability and digitalization."

Prof. Irmgard Förster has been Professor of Immunology and Environment since 2012. She was the first and until 2017 the only female professor at the LIMES Institute and has been committed to recruiting and promoting outstanding female scientists at all career levels from the very beginning. With this in mind, a committee for the advancement of women - the Women in Science (WiS) committee - was founded in 2013 to improve the perspectives of women in science and gradually move from awareness to implementation of measures. In an interview, she explains her career and the opportunities and challenges for women in science.

Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster
LIMES Institute
Immunology and Environment