There is much in the works
University President Prof. Stefan Leible and Provost Dr. Nicole Kaiser discuss the past years in an interview, as well as what lies ahead for the University of Bayreuth in the future.
What has changed at the University of Bayreuth in the more than two years of the pandemic?
Prof. Stefan Leible: The universities including the University of Bayreuth quickly moved into digital teaching. I think that overall - even if it was challenging for everyone - we got through the time well. Even if, as a campus university, we did of course miss campus life a lot.
We're glad that we'll all be back on campus for the summer semester, and that we'll be able to meet each other again and have more interaction. It was a good decision that we went back to in-person teaching. Digital enrichment will remain, however, and will be constantly developed.
Dr. Nicole Kaiser: Of course, despite the pandemic, we were also intensively focused on the high-tech agenda. We are getting a lot of new professorships and new staff. We opened a satellite campus in Kulmbach. And our growth and the fact that we now have several locations away from the main campus is a change that, if you look at the history of the University of Bayreuth, has never been seen before in recent decades.
What has changed on campus?
Leible: There has been new life since we started the summer semester by having face-to-face lectures. You can see that not only in the students, but also in the administrative staff and the teaching staff. In addition, many new professors have been appointed, for example through the High-Tech Agenda, which has led to a great deal of growth at the University of Bayreuth. So it is of course all the more vexing that we have to cut jobs at the same time due to a change in the allocation of funds within Bavaria. However, I am convinced that we will find good solutions together.
Kaiser: The High-Tech Agenda in particular presents us with very special challenges. The new posts have to be housed somewhere. That means we have many new rentals, such as in the British American Tobacco building, where we have housed the Bavarian Battery Centre since 1 January, or in Kulmbach. There we have rented extensively on the former spinning mill site, for example in the "Fritz" shopping centre or in the former administration building. In autumn we will also acquire more space above the bus station.
How are the construction projects progressing?
Kaiser: Things are progressing very well with regard to the planning of the African Studies building and the building that will house Entrepreneurship & Innovation. These are the two construction projects that will take place in the next few years and, according to current plans, will be completed in the next three to four years.
In addition to these two projects, there are of course many others. You have certainly all noticed the sewer renovation in the past few months. And at the moment, for example, our building management system is also being renewed. Even if these measures are less visible, they are just as important.
One of the big projects that always occupies the campus is the new cafeteria building, which is currently progressing a little more slowly as the other projects are keeping us extremely busy. But we are confident that things will pick up again next year.
Do you have a good or rather an unsettling feeling when you see all that is coming up?
Leible: We know that these are challenging times, not only for the University of Bayreuth, but for our society as a whole - coronavirus, climate crisis, war in Ukraine, etc. But it would be bad if we said we couldn't cope. We will tackle things together with the staff in Bayreuth, Kulmbach and Thurnau. And we will do so in such a way that we always keep the reins of action in our hands.
Kaiser: And we can be sure that we and all those involved will not get bored any time soon.