Interview on the change of office in the Vice Rectorate for Diversity and International Affairs

On October 1, 2021, Prof. Dr. Silke Wieprecht became a member of the Rectorate with re-sponsibility for the Vice Rectorate of Diversity and International Affairs. She is a professor and Head of Department at the Institute for Modelling Hydraulic and Environmental Systems (IWS) in the faculty Civil and Environmental Engineering and has taken over the role from Prof. Monilola Olayioye.

Three questions for Prof. Monilola Olayioye

For the first time, diversity was anchored at rectorate level. What special challenges did this bring with it?

The Vice Rectorate for Early Career Researchers and Diversity was special in that diversity had not previously been represented at the management level. Firstly, the appropriate structures for diversity management had to be established. This included the creation of a new senate committee, diversity commissions in the faculties and a new student council department. Incorporation in the committees is an important prerequisite for addressing diversity issues and implementing measures.

Prof. Monilola Olayioye

Which milestones has the University of Stuttgart achieved and what successes are you particularly proud of?

I am proud of the University of Stuttgart's first diversity concept. For me, a very important part of this was to involve all the people who were already active in the field of diversity and to set up a concept with which our university can identify. A further success is the Code of Conduct, which was developed transparently with the participation of representatives from across the university and was widely approved by the Senate in July 2021*). With the Code of Conduct we set are setting an example for respectful cooperation and an open, discrimination-free university culture. Lastly, I would like to mention Diversity Day, a new tradition at the University of Stuttgart, where a diverse and changing program provides an opportunity for all groups, regardless of status, to talk to each other about the topic of diversity.

*)The Code of Conduct will soon be printed and published on the university websites.

What would you like to pass on to your successor, Prof. Silke Wieprecht?

I think it is very positive that, from October 2021, the new structure of the Vice Rectorate 'Diversity and International Affairs' will give internationalization a higher priority. After all, we have a great many international students and researchers, and networking on an international level brings innovation to teaching and research.

And I hope that my successor is as enthusiastic about our diversity campaign as I am and will continue this office with the planned motto 'Diversity is fun'. I'm already looking forward to being involved in that!

Prof. Dr. Silke Wieprecht

Two questions for Prof. Silke Wieprecht

What are your goals and how will you get started?

My predecessor has already done an excellent job. I would like to pick up where she left off and continue to initiate projects and activities to promote the implementation of the diversity strategy. I am already in the process of gaining more insight into the topics and activities encompassed in the field of diversity and international affairs. To this end, I will be holding discussions with those responsible within the faculties and interest groups, in order to learn more about the needs and wishes of our employees, students and researchers and to follow up on these. On the way to becoming a university of excellence, both diversity and internationalization play a very important role. My goal is to strengthen our university, so that we are ready and well positioned as we progress forwards.

The Vice Rectorate has been restructured and the area of early career researchers has moved to the Vice Rectorate of Research. You are now Vice Rector for Diversity and Internationalization. What do you want to focus on in the area of international affairs?

I want to focus on making international research collaborations and partnerships that are already successful and strategically relevant even more successful, and to stimulate new partnerships. I believe it is necessary, for example, to make student mobility easier, to make shorter research stays possible, and to support joint master's and exchange programs for doctoral students. Additional mobility offers for employees in administrative and technical roles also offer new opportunities, because every area of the university should benefit from international flair and intercultural exchange!

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