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Chancellor Dr Johann Peter Schäfer retires at official farewell ceremony

Official celebration in the Audimax / Rector Burckhart comments, “The region knows this chancellor. He fulfilled an active and responsible role.”

On Wednesday afternoon the Audimax at the University of Siegen resembled a busy central station. About 300 guests had accepted the invitation for the official ceremony to mark the retirement of Chancellor Dr Johann Peter Schäfer after his 20 years in office. Rector Prof. Dr Holger Burckhart noted that start of a new chapter was associated with nostalgia and new perspectives. Prof. Schäfer took office in 1992 / 1993 during challenging times. He worked not merely to defend, but also to expand Siegen as an academic location. According to Rector Burckhart, “Today we have a modern and in many areas also highly motivated university as well as an updated campus management system.” Prof. Schäfer showed considerable social commitment to the region far beyond the university, “The region knows this chancellor. He fulfilled an active and responsible role.”

Dr Lambert Verveld, Secretary General of the University of Groningen and Chairman of HUMANE, emphasized that the outgoing Chancellor focused on three aims for HUMANE: enhancing the profile and putting the University of Siegen on the map, making the German university system comprehensible on an international level and establishing links between Siegen and German and international universities that were beneficial for Siegen. Dr Rainer Ambrosy as deputy national spokesman for German university chancellors attended to “wish a highly esteemed colleague a happy retirement.” The departing chancellor had created the right infrastructure and the economic and staffing conditions for a modern university. In addition, he was involved in overseeing the transition of the chancellor’s office from a professional administrative role to a university managerial position.

In the opinion of the head of the district authority, Paul Breuer, Prof. Schäfer stood for continuity. He represented the university in the city and region, and 20 years ago he already held the ambition for Siegen to call itself a university town. Angelika Flohren, as deputy mayoress of Siegen, and acknowledging the chancellor said, “I cannot really imagine the University of Siegen without you.” Prof. Schäfer had succeeded in establishing a stable foundation at the university for ongoing development. According to deputy mayoress Flohren, “Your successor takes over a significant legacy.” The Dean’s spokesman Prof. Dr Volker Wulf honoured the chancellor’s diplomatic as well as managerial and financial skill. In the context of her ceremonial lecture entitled “…ein Stück von mir”, Dr Elisabeth Freismuth (Section Head of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research) presented an overview of the development of administrative management from the perspective of Alpine countries.

Dr Johann Peter Schäfer had the last word, “I have plenty to thank the university, city and local people for.” He experienced highs and lows at the University of Siegen. It was important for him to be there for the university, to put the institution on an financially sound footing and to contribute to making the university attractive for researchers, lecturers and students. Prof. Martin Herchenröder, University Musical Director Ute Debus, the orchestra of the University of Siegen as well as soloists Louisa Hadem (violin) and Christoph Sobanski (piano) provided musical accompaniment.
The best pictures of the official farewell reception for the Chancellor in the Audimax are available here.