Prof. Dr. Walter Rosenthal, Präsident der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, auf dem Balkon des Präsidialamtes der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. Foto: Jens Meyer/Universität Jena

Professor Dr Walter Rosenthal, President of Friedrich Schiller University Jena, is “University Manager of the Year 2022”. With this award, the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT and the CHE Centre for Higher Education honour leaders of higher education institutions (HEIs) in Germany who have shaped the development of their university in a special way and initiated positive change processes. This year, special attention was paid to the extent to which sustainability is embedded in the university strategy, and how it is implemented at the HEI.

Physician and pharmacologist Walter Rosenthal has been President of Friedrich Schiller University Jena since October 2014. Rosenthal was already nominated for the award in 2020.

The University of Jena has existed for more than 450 years, making it one of the oldest universities in Germany. Rosenthal initiated the necessary change processes at the very start of his presidency. For one thing, he focused on innovative profile lines in research to ensure the success of the university’s participation in the Excellence Strategy. For another, he drove the university’s structural development in line with its ever-growing importance in the region. He achieved both objectives superbly.

Walter Rosenthal and the jury : Dr. Norbert Sack, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sabine Kunst, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Radtke, Marion Schmidt, Prof. Dr. med. Simone Fulda, Prof. Dr. Frank Ziegele, Prof. Dr. Sascha Spoun, Prof. Dr. Walter Rosenthal, Martin Spiewak (Credit: Kevin Fuchs for DIE ZEIT)

The jury considers the University of Jena to be very well positioned, stating: “Walter Rosenthal gets a lot of encouragement for his objectives and their implementation at the university, while always remaining a man of integrity, humility and authenticity.” The jury commented: “The realignment of the university and the concentration on key topics for the future, which he initiated, enable the entire region to benefit from the successful development of the university under his leadership.” “Walter Rosenthal has put the University of Jena on the map,” the jury agreed.

In his laudatory speech, Professor Dr Sascha Spoun, President of the Leuphana University Lüneburg and University Manager of the Year 2021, emphasised: “Where there is tradition, there is complacency; where there is fear of change, there is a lack of self-confidence. Anyone who succeeds in transforming a venerable university, steeped in tradition, from complacency to self-confidence has achieved the ultimate in university management. This is exactly what this year’s award winner, Walter Rosenthal, has managed to do in an exemplary manner.”

Rosenthal declared sustainability a top priority. A Declaration of Principles on Sustainability was adopted unanimously by the Senate in 2021. The new Green Office is where the university’s sustainability projects are interlinked and driven forward. Rosenthal comes in for high praise from his colleagues at the university as an initiator, as well as for his strong commitment to the strategic positioning on sustainability: “Walter Rosenthal stands for an attitude that understands sustainability as a key issue for the future, and incorporates it into as many decisions as possible in research, teaching and administration,” his colleagues noted.

Besides Professor Dr Walter Rosenthal, the following managers were nominated for the award:
Professor Dr Gabriele Gien, President of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
Professor Dr Thomas F. Hofmann, President of the Technical University of Munich
Professor Dr Bernd Kriegesmann, President of the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences
Professor Dr-Ing Dieter Leonhard, President of the University of Applied Sciences in Saarbrücken
Professor Dr Susanne Menzel-Riedl, President of Osnabrück University

“All of the nominees emphasise in their understanding of leadership how important it is to have open communication and to involve all members of the university in their efforts to successfully manage and drive forward their HEI. In their own individual ways, each of them has accomplished this in a most impressive way. The nominees feel that they – and their universities – have a strong responsibility for ensuring a sustainable future, promoting the issue of sustainability with great personal commitment in an exemplary manner,” stated Professor Dr Frank Ziegele, Executive Director of CHE and a member of the jury.

The “University Manager of the Year” award was launched in 2008; it has been offered jointly by the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT and the CHE Centre for Higher Education since 2013.

The nominees are presented in short portraits here.

The nominations and the University Manager of the Year were decided by a jury of experts.

Information on the University Manager of the Year project