After provisionally holding the position for a whole year, in December Dr. Martin Mehrtens was officially appointed to an eight-year period of office as the University of Bremen’s new Director of Finances and Administration. On 20 November the Academic Senate voted to approve the recommendation made by the Rector, Prof. Bernd Scholz-Reiter, to appoint Martin Mehrtens to the post. In a secret ballot, seventeen AS members voted in favor: There were four abstentions and nobody voted against the proposal. Mehrtens succeeds Gerd-Rüdiger Kück. After holding the position for 21 years, in December 2012 Kück accepted the post of State Councilor to Bremen’s Senator for Education and Science.
Mehrtens is no newcomer to the University of Bremen. He has led the Department for Organization, HR Development, IT and Central Services since 1989. His name is connected with the development and implementation of contract management and the organizational development of the University, as well as the targeted expansion of IT structures and strategic HR development. Martin Mehrtens was also instrumental in implementing policies of gender mainstreaming, combining career with family life, and proactive environmental management.
The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved funding of a further transregional Collaborative Research Center at the University of Bremen. CRC/TR 136 “Function oriented manufacturing on the basis of characteristic process signatures” is a cooperation between the University of Bremen, the RWTH Aachen, and Oklahoma State University. The CRC/TR, which will be funded in an amount of 9.7 million euros for the first four years, commences activities on 1 April 2014. This will then mean that the University of Bremen hosts a total of four Collaborative Research Centers (two of them transregional CRCs).
Protests at job cuts Employees and students of the University unite in a week-long protest at the 130 forthcoming job cuts in the area of research and the administrative and technical levels. They carried out peaceful protests on the campus and in the city. Although extra funding has been made available for research via the Excellence Initiative, the University’s basic finances have been totally inadequate for years. The following weeks saw further actions, such as demonstrations in the main city square and a 24-hour lecture. The Rector of the University, Prof. Bernd Scholz-Reiter welcomed the protests: “It’s important that the politicians hear opinions from all sides involved. Creative protest from many different sides is often the most effective form.”
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The visit of Science Senator, Eva Quante-Brandt, to the Academic Senate (AS) was accompanied by peaceful student protests. Main topics on the agenda were the Report of the Science Council and the forthcoming job cuts. This gave rise to a discussion on the University of Bremen’s basic public financing.
According to Quante-Brandt: “The expert opinion of the Science Council affirms that Bremen has a strong and research intensive university which is particularly deserving of support. Notwithstanding, the Science Council also points out that there is a need to strengthen the humanities and to focus on priorities.” The report clearly blames underfunding as the cause of many of the University’s apparent weaknesses. Commenting on the report, the Rector of the University, Prof. Scholl-Reiter, stressed there must be a significant increase of state funding.