New bamberger university president: “university ensures quality of life”

For kai fischbach, the otto-friedrich-universitat bamberg is a familiar place. Already in 2012 he accepted the call to the chair for business informatics, especially social networks. After eight years, it will now become the 1. October took over the office of president from godehard ruppert. In an interview, the 47-year-old reveals how the university is to develop further and why the city of bamberg will benefit from it.

What does the university of bamberg mean to you??

Fischbach: for me it is a very special place, characterized by a friendly and collegial atmosphere. At the same time, world-renowned, excellent and remarkably interdisciplinary research takes place here. The university stands for a cosmopolitan and diverse society, has a clear, independent profile and has an exciting, diverse range of courses on offer.

How will the university change under you as president??

The university of bamberg is very well positioned and has many unique selling points. We want to preserve the core and essence of the university and build on that foundation to develop a strong, sustainable approach to future challenges. For this to succeed, it will take courage to change and innovate.

In the coming years, demographic change, globalization and increasing competition among universities will significantly increase the competition for funding, students and staff. In addition, it is important that we continue to make a contribution to society in the future, for example when it comes to teacher training, digitization, the future of work or educational research. Last but not least, I am concerned about maintaining the diversity of the disciplines. Especially in the so-called "small disciplines excellent research is carried out, which makes our offer unique.

Your office is located on erba island, but the university is spread across many buildings, all over town. Would you rather have it summarized on a rough campus?

I was not interested in a campus university. It is very good to have a university in the city. This provides quality of life and creates connections. Our students make bamberg a young city. At the same time, many listed buildings are being preserved by the university. It contributes to the preservation of the world’s cultural heritage, which we can further strengthen through our research and expertise in the field of heritage studies.

If you include employees, civil servants and students, the university in bamberg has 14,500 members. Have we reached the limits of our growth??

What is still possible in terms of space must be seen of course. The university itself can certainly grow. Among other things, the upcoming expansion of the faculty of information systems and applied informatics (WIAI) offers a major opportunity here. Thanks to the success in the AI competition and an additional program to expand the number of study places, we expect 19 new professorships in the coming years, from which not only the faculty, but also the study program of the entire university will benefit considerably. In addition, we have once again achieved top positions in the CHE ranking, which will further increase the attractiveness of the location for students.

In your experience, how do the people of bamberg feel about the university??

I think they are very proud of their university. This was expressed by over 80 percent of bamberg residents in both of the city’s citizen surveys.

How the city benefits?

Many of the employees and students stay here and start families because they feel comfortable here. This will keep specialists in the region, and some of them will start their own businesses with the help of the university.

This coarse population group also has a strong impact on the bamberg housing market. However, students regularly complain that they cannot find affordable housing.

This is not a problem in the usual way at the moment because of the corona pandemic. Otherwise, we are working very constructively and responsibly with the city and the student union to provide affordable housing.

In corona times, even the university is still far from normal operation. When will there be regular lectures again??

No one can give a serious answer at the moment, because it is not clear how the pandemic will develop. However, we are endeavoring to hold more presentations in the winter semester 20/21, which will be supplemented by an online offering. The ministry has recently created a helpful framework for this purpose. We are well prepared for any situation. Colleagues see the new situation as an opportunity to develop modern teaching and learning concepts, and the computing center is doing an excellent job of providing the infrastructure.

The university is not only an important economic factor, but also provides many cultural impulses. Will it stay that way?

We want to maintain this special strength of the university and continue to demand it, among other things by creating further meeting places, such as a "house of science". We want to meet the people of bamberg in many ways, whether through the hegel weeks with their 30-year tradition or the numerous cooperations with schools in the region.

The questions were asked by stefan fobel.

Computer scientists and networkers

Kai fischbach’s six-year term as president of the otto friedrich university begins on 1 january 2009. October 2020. He has held the chair for business informatics, in particular social networks, for eight years. In bamberg, he took on a variety of tasks in the university’s self-administration: as dean and chairman of the doctoral committee of the faculty of business informatics and applied informatics, chairman of the senate, deputy chairman of the university council, and also member of the academic advisory board of the language center. He is a trusted lecturer of the bavarian elite academy and a member of the board of the german society for network research.

Kai fischbach studied mathematics and social sciences at the university of siegen and received his doctorate from the otto beisheim graduate school (WHU). He worked as a research assistant at both universities and at the university of poland. Twice he was a visiting scholar in the USA.

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