The new president is extending a greeting to our university’s alumni

There are only a few days that decisively shape a scientist’s path of life. One such day for me was the 30th of September 2019 at the official ceremony in the Main Auditorium, when Professor Wolfgang A. Herrmann put the TUM President’s golden Chain of Office around my neck. I was overcome by a moment of great joy, but at the same time by awe.

Joy, because it is a real privilege to work as the new president of your alma mater together with the people who are decisive for the success of TUM – the students, the scientists, the science support staff, the emeriti, alumni, patrons, supporters and friends. I would like to listen to what they have to say and learn what moves them, what drives them and what their goals are, and use their various talents, motivations and experience to bring TUM to new heights together! Concurrently a feeling of awe came over me at the handover, because an immense task is lying ahead of me and also because this reality is so far away from my childhood dream of becoming an archaeologist. I wanted to become an archaeologist because it fascinated me to search for buried, undiscovered buildings and objects and reconstruct the lifestyles of earlier cultures through them. Now on the other hand it is up to me, as President-in-Office, to shape the future.

A constant willingness to change is characterising TUM

Right now the conditions for my start as President of TUM are perfect. The university has never been in a better position than today. Building on its reform concept for higher education policy, TUM was able to demonstrate its capacity for renewal in the Excellence Initiative (2006 – 2018). Scientific excellence with a strong theoretical foundation, as well as brand-building and trans-disciplinary collaborative research characterise the profile of TUM just as much as its international nature at home and its global presence:

  • 30 percent of TUM’s students and 40 percent of our tenure track professors are from abroad
  • numerous international visiting scientists have already contributed to the research at TUM. Building on the success of TUM Asia Pte. Ltd. (2002) and TUM CREATE (2010) in Singapore, with liaison offices in Brussels, Cairo, Mumbai, Beijing, San Francisco and São Paulo TUM is now based on four continents and maintains contact with its alumni, partners and friends.

The entrepreneurial mindset has become firmly anchored in the university community. It stands for a constant willingness to change and has laid the foundations for previously unthinkable structural reforms. These have now started to bear fruit:

  • Our students are among the best educated in the world, ranked sixth framed by Stanford and Princeton
  • more than 100 of the renowned ERC grants have been awarded to TUM in the last 10 years
  • with a success rate of 90 percent, we are more successful than ever before in applying for DFG Collaborative Research Centres (SFBs) (+ 50 percent in 5 years)
  • with 70 to 80 high-tech start-ups p.a., TUM is the most successful German entrepreneurial university and now has the potential to become the leading launch pad for new companies in Europe.

As the only technical university in Germany TUM has been awarded the title ‘University of Excellence’ for the third time in a row just a few months ago. ‘Your TUM’ is now one of the strongest research universities in Europe – something we can all be proud of!

Successful, cosmopolitan and diverse

Father to the idea and a powerful engine behind these successes was Professor Wolfgang A. Herrmann. In a close relationship of trust with him, I had the pleasure of helping to shape TUM over the last ten years in the role of Managing Vice President for Research and Innovation. During his 24-year presidency, Wolfgang A. Herrmann’s profound understanding of science, his limitless curiosity, as well as his cosmopolitan mindset have become a part of the entire university culture. As a foresighted university leader, entrepreneurial thinker and skilful politician, he has repeatedly critically questioned conventional practices, envisioned the future and set the course in order to venture into previously unthinkable directions. To this end, he relied on a distinctive culture of appreciation, seeing the talents in the TUM Family as the most important source of sustainable value creation. With that Wolfgang A. Herrmann has made TUM more successful, more cosmopolitan and more diverse.

Alumni are enriching the TUM Family

Like you, I am an Alumni of TUM. And I am proud to be a part of the international network formed by our 81,000 alumni. Numerous generations of students and researchers have become valuable brand ambassadors for our university on all continents. They carry the knowledge they have acquired at TUM into the vast worlds of science, business, politics and society. As ‘global citizens’, they frequently make a difference in society with their intellect, responsibility and cosmopolitan outlook. And they are enriching our TUM Family by passing on their different talents, ways of thinking and experiences to the next generation – this makes us all proud and motivates us every day to reflect on the future with foresight.

Into the future with a strong TUM

We live in times of change. We are experiencing exponential technological leaps, structural economic changes, social paradigm shifts and rapidly changing global labour markets – right now the future needs a strong TUM and its alumni more than ever before. TUM’s energetic people and the open-mindedness of the university community encourage necessary further developments with which we want to align TUM to the challenges of our time within the framework of our TUM AGENDA 2030 (more on p. 12). This is why I am asking for your active support! Let us use the potential of our alma mater together in order to reach the echelon of a world-class university.

Celebrating the university family

Even though, as a result of digitalisation, the world increasingly seems like a village, the personal interaction of the people at our university is and remains an invaluable asset. For me, TUM’s Advent Concerts are one of the most beautiful and lasting moments of the year. For the 11th time, we are once more gathering our global university family at this year’s Advent Concert in December in order to bring the year to a close together, to refresh old friendships and to make new ones – across disciplines, cultures and continents. This year on this festive occasion it is my pleasure to welcome you as President for the first time. I am already looking forward to this, as well as to honouring our renowned visiting scientists as TUM Ambassadors and to presenting our distinguished golden and silver jubilarians with their diploma and doctorate certificates as a sign of our appreciation. I am full of expectation for you personally and for your varying life stories! As a member of the TUM Family you can look forward to feeling the close connection and strength of our university community, which is makes ‘Your TUM’ so special.

Opening up new spheres of activity

I am delighted that I can now start, and tackle my new assignment. This involves gauging the rapidly changing world anew every day and letting the people of TUM become co-creators of these changes themselves. In doing so, we will be able to prepare our students for a successful future and to produce influential researchers and leaders. In doing so, we will open up new spheres of activity and future-oriented fields of innovation in order to shape the future in cooperation with society and make human coexistence more sustainable and better. In doing so, the future will be: T U M !