New Chancellor: Jan Gerken

7 questions for Jan Gerken

What did you particularly like about the University of Erfurt?

People and places – I met a lot of interesting people at the University of Erfurt who I came to really appreciate and, as chancellor, I also had the opportunity to work on exciting concepts for the university’s future with a lot of them.

The campus concept at the University of Erfurt is also special – with the ‘historical’ campus in Gotha and the main site in Erfurt. In terms of construction and structural developments, we worked with both the state and local communities to develop new construction concepts. This was a huge task and a great challenge, but it was also exciting and interesting.

What expertise and experience will you bring to your new function as chancellor at the University of Stuttgart?

I have more than 20 years of experience in professional university management. I held a number of different administrative positions at the universities of Hannover, Düsseldorf and Erfurt and during that time I also managed various large university projects. Most recently, I was employed as chancellor at the University of Erfurt, where a key focus of my work was on constructional and technical infrastructure and on digitalization; in addition to other operational areas, such as university finances and personal. Thanks to my participation in various chancellor task forces at the national level I have been able to develop an extensive network of contacts relevant to these fields.

What is the most exciting aspect of this new challenge?

I would like to be part of making the University of Stuttgart even greater in the future; I would like to help to implement the plans and ideas and I am certain I will be able to make good use of my expertise and experience as chancellor at the University of Stuttgart. Furthermore, working in one of Germany’s most diverse academic environments is, in itself, very exciting. 

What will you do in the first 90 days?

The first 90 days will primarily be a learning phase. I want to get to know the University of Stuttgart, its culture and, of course, the people that make it special. That means, I will be asking questions, listening, observing. I want to build trust and establish a network.

What priorities will you be setting for your time as chancellor?

Communication is a fundamental component of success and I believe in establishing a culture of encouragement and opportunities. I would like establish a sustainable, modern form of management. The topics of “the digitalization of administration – administration 4.0” and “structural/technical infrastructure” are, of course, of paramount importance.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to read and I collect Franco-Belgian comics, such as The Adventures of Tintin, Spirou & Fantasio etc. I also draw occasionally. I am a passionate runner and sometimes run half marathons or take part in mountain runs, e.g. the Rennsteiglauf in Thuringian Forest. I am looking forward to discovering what the city and region have to offer.

Are you already familiar with the city and the surrounding region? If so, what do you like the most?

No not really, I haven’t yet had time to explore. I have spent a few weekends in Stuttgart – but apart from a few inner-city areas and Vaihingen, I don’t know the region very well, but I am hoping to change that as soon as possible.

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