Email from Rector: Social Distancing - digital solidarity and cooperation

April 17, 2020

Email from Rector Prof. Wolfram Ressel to students at the University of Stuttgart to mark the start of the summer semester 2020

Dear students,

As is the case every spring, we have all been looking forward to the start of the summer semester: finally all together again on our Stadtmitte and Vaihingen campuses, sharing new knowledge and learning - be it through teaching, research or knowledge transfer. But this year, this academic enjoyment of deciding "for knowledge", as the campaign slogan for the German Research Foundation (DFG) so succinctly put it at its 100-year anniversary, is overshadowed by the threat of the pandemic. The start of the summer semester is not only joyful, it is also unusual, difficult and even a little surreal.

But we are ready to begin the summer semester nonetheless, albeit with digital teaching, and this semester will not be lost – neither for you as students, nor for your teachers, and not for wider society, who need our help, commitment and expertise in this time of crisis.

University teaching will begin digitally on Monday April 20, and, as Rector, I am delighted to be able to welcome you to the new summer semester. You can be sure that the university will ensure that, despite the difficult situation, this semester will be a positive experience, both personally and professionally.

First and foremost, I would like to ask, for epidemiological reasons, that you don’t come to Stuttgart if you have internet access to teaching materials from your home address. We do not yet know when normal teaching will resume – in whatever form. We do know, however, that there will be no return to normal teaching during the summer semester 2020.

You lecturers have been working very hard to prepare digital formats for lectures. Please read our corona webpage, in particular the FAQ pages on “studying and teaching” and “examinations”. Detailed information about the organization of online teaching can be found on C@MPUS, on our teaching platform ILIAS and on the relevant study program webpages. You can also contact your study program manager; these are listed on the academic counseling webpage.

Dear students and colleagues, I would also like to speak to you personally about social distancing, which is why I will be releasing a video message on Monday. To view the video, please visit our homepage, which is updated by University Communications daily, and click on the slider.

I am looking forward to the summer semester 2020 and to your creative cooperation, with the aim that we don’t experience this time as only difficult, but also as an opportunity to gain something positive from this challenge!

Showing solidarity together – over the past few weeks, we have experienced how all members of the university have come together in this time of crisis, working to find solutions for the problems that we are facing in the summer semester. I am very thankful that so much commitment and energy has been mobilized to put our expertise to good use in wider society in these challenging times.

One very special example of our university’s solidarity is that our student council has created a corona helper pool [de], and that several hundred students are now involved in this. This solidarity is very important – both in Europe and across the world.

In Germany we are lucky to have excellent medical care and the economic prerequisites to tackle this crisis, which makes it even more important to spare a thought for the students and teachers at our partner universities and to continue our collaborative work and support even during the corona crisis. I was delighted that scientists here at the university have developed protective masks to send to our partner university in Bergamo – one of the regions worst affected by the pandemic. This medical support is also being supported by musical offerings: the university choir, led by our new musical director Mihály Zeke, will be sending musical digital greetings to our partner university - and nothing less than Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi‘s Nabucco.

I am delighted that we can offer our students digital teaching during the summer semester. All will be well in the end – even if not everything works 100 percent perfectly. Our friends in Bergamo sent us a positive message, despite their troubles: “Andrà tutto bene!”

I wish you all a successful summer semester, we will all make the best of it!

Best regards
Wolfram Ressel
Rector at the University of Stuttgart

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