Press Portal

Sabine Kunst sets three major goals

Prof Dr.-Ing. Dr Sabine Kunst is the new president of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU). The HU is now led by a woman – the second woman in the 206-year history of the university. Kunst announced three major goals for her presidency in her inauguration speech.
Sabine Kunst

Sabine Kunst, HU's new president
Figure: Stephan Röhl

Around 400 university members and guests from the spheres of science and politics attended the ceremony in the main auditorium on 11th May as Prof Dr.-Ing. Dr Sabine Kunst, former minister of science for Brandenburg, symbolically accepted the golden chain of office from her predecessor, Prof Dr Jan-Hendrik Olbertz.

The speakers welcomed the new president of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU), while also recognising the dedication of Jan-Hendrik Olbertz, who was in office since 2010.

Berlin’s governing mayor Michael Müller emphasised that Olbertz had substantially helped shape the positive image of Berlin as a cosmopolitan and future-facing city through his work and commitment for the HU. He may look back at his achievements at the university with great confidence and pride. Sabine Kunst may further build upon this excellent development in recent years and continue to drive it forwards. Müller gave her his unreserved support for the university’s continued success in the excellence initiative.

A presidency distinguished by the excellence initiative

Berlin’s senator for science Sandra Scheeres also highlighted the faculty reform as a special credit to Jan-Hendrik Olbertz, in addition to the excellence status of the HU. He also succeeded in expanding the reputation of the HU internationally. The senator added that Olbertz had always been emphatically and determinedly committed to the university, for which she expressed her thanks.

Scheeres considers Sabine Kunst to be a successor with exactly the right qualifications for the presidency: management experience in academia as well as in an international and political context. She was hence delighted to hear about her candidacy and thanked the Board of Trustees for the success of the selection process.

The Chair of the Board of Trustees Prof Dr Rolf Emmermann recalled the ‘brilliant interview’ with Prof Olbertz – much like a lecture on the university’s mission statement and its potential. Tireless commitment, great passion and excellent ideas were said to have characterised his presidency. “From the perspective of the Board of Trustees, it was a highly successful term of office,” Emmermann summarises.

Olbertz: “I enjoyed being president”

As was the case with Jan-Hendrik Olbertz, Sabine Kunst’s term of office will also be characterised by the excellence initiative. Here it will be important to consolidate what has already been achieved and establish the excellence status for the long term. Other important areas of work are said to include a coordinated structure plan, household and finance planning as well as the reform of central administration. “You are determined and decisive,” noted Rolf Emmermann to Sabine Kunst: “You will bring the university further forwards.”

“The Humboldt-Universität has the power and obligation to show what it can accomplish,” affirmed Prof Dr Günter Stock, chairman of the executive board of the Einstein Foundation Berlin, in his speech. Stock added that concerted action within the university is also essential for this, as this would further increase the positive effect of the university. He wished Mrs Kunst every success in her new position.

Kunst: Define milestones and individual steps


Jan-Hendrik Olbertz (l.) gives back the
golden chain of office to Michael Seadle
Figure: Stephan Röhl

Jan-Hendrik Olbertz sincerely congratulated Mrs Kunst on her presidency. His rather personal reflection on his term of office made it clear that he took difficulty in leaving the position. “It would be wrong to say I’m relieved; I enjoyed being president,” he said. Having vision, approving change and creating something new – these have shaped him as a person, including during his term in office. Yet this credo was not shared in the critical areas for him. Overall, however, he had had an ‘excellent time’ at the university, for which he is thankful.

The new president Sabine Kunst announced three goals for the coming years: firstly, Humboldt-Universität should remain as appealing for young people. She intends to commit to positive study conditions, excellent teaching and facilities. Secondly, Kunst seeks to promote research efforts as they are the ‘drivers of innovation in society’. The excellence initiative and the development of research partnerships are essential components of this objective. HU's contribution may help develop Berlin into a German hub of science. Thirdly, the university has to further develop its governance. It needs a sustainable structure that in turn necessitates a participatory climate.

Kunst sees an overarching consensus in the will of everyone to successfully shape the future of the university. She believes it is now important to define the milestones and individual steps together.

Additional information

Photos for the press as a free download
Press release on the inauguration

Press contact

Hans-Christoph Keller
Head of Press and Public Relations

Phone: 030 2093-2946