In publica commoda

The President’s speech on 28 September 2018 on the decision about the Excellence Cluster proposals

Dear colleagues,

I am delighted that all of you have come here today, because together we did everything to make the Cluster initiatives successful. My special thanks for this go to all those involved.

Despite my disappointment, allow me first of all to congratulate my colleagues from the Bioimaging Cluster initiative. We all wish you every success in your work.

Apart from this, it is a bitterly disappointing day for the University and the Campus, for the three other Cluster initiatives, for the Presidential Board and especially for me as President – a completely unexpected defeat in the competition for research Clusters.

In my opinion the unsuccessful Cluster applications are still very good, capturing exciting topics and having presented themselves excellently in the review process. I would therefore like to express my sincere thanks to the scientists from these initiatives, the coordinators and support staff, as well as the Faculties that supported the Cluster proposals so significantly. I would also like to thank the management and staff of the Research Department, who supported the initiatives with a very high level of professional and personal commitment, as well as Vice President Diederichsen, who played a decisive role in driving the Cluster process forward. My thanks also go to the Public Relations Department, the Campus Office and the Finance and Human Resources Departments as well as all other departments and staff units that supported the process.

Last but not least, our Campus Partners are very important discussion partners and I am grateful for our good working relationships and their support. I hope that the Campus does not lose its spirit.

Lower Saxony has received a total of six Clusters, which unfortunately does not include a single one from the humanities or social sciences.

We do not know the reasons for the rejection of our Cluster applications, and it will probably take a little while longer before we receive the reviewers’ reports. Nevertheless, we want to sit down with you and the Faculties soon in order to consider how best to go forward, and how we can support you. It is clear that you will continue to be the University's main focus areas for research and we will find ways to get funding together. I very much hope that all of you will continue to support this process.

It will certainly take some time to get over this shock, but I would also like to encourage you not to be down-hearted. You are all doing an excellent job and we shall continue as a 'very good' university, if not an excellent one, on a wonderful campus, as soon as possible. Then you will all continue to have further success, albeit not in this competition.

I have received many encouraging mails, for which I am very grateful. Many do not understand why such well-positioned research collaborations did not get through. I do not think any of us can understand that completely yet. A member of the Foundation Council recommends that after a brief licking of wounds, it is now important to carry out an honest and self-critical analysis, draw the right and courageous conclusions from it and then implement them vigorously. I am happy to support this and keen to meet the challenge.

Of course I will use the next days and weeks to talk with people and to plan how we can support your ideas now with less funding. You all know that the University and the Campus are very important to me. Even after this defeat and personal disappointment, I will not let the University down, and indeed I am very aware of my important responsibility in this situation. There are essential tasks that have to be fulfilled in the coming months – including the selection of a new Vice President for Finance and Human Resources, the conclusion of the target agreement with the state of Lower Saxony and the preparation of a solid new financial plan.

I am sure I can count on my Vice Presidents, whom I thank warmly for all their support.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my closest colleagues, who support me unconditionally, particularly in difficult times. Last but not least, I would not be able to accomplish the dual task I am currently performing if I did not have the professional and personal support of the Heads of the Legal, Finance and Human Resources Departments.

A member of the Senate yesterday gave a quote from Konrad Adenauer: "Falling is neither dangerous nor a disgrace. Staying still is both".

So let us stand together, prepare to shape the future together and put our plans into action.