The Executive Board of the University is reorganizing itself. The remits of the Offices of the Vice President are being optimized, the deans are given more responsibility, the faculties are more directly included in the decision-making processes of UZH, and a number of procedures are being simplified. These measures free up capacity in the Executive Board of the University that can be used for the strategic management and development of UZH. Overall, this reform increases UZH’s ability to act.
UZH’s new governance model is the fruit of several years of development work. An initial proposal for reform was submitted for consultation in 2014. On this basis, a follow-up project with the involvement of the deans was launched in 2015. The organizational model that emerged from this project was approved by the Board of the University in early 2018 and is set to be implemented gradually between 1 August 2018 and 2020.
The most striking change to the previous structure relates to the remits and names of the Offices of the Vice Presidents. Previously, the Vice Presidents were the representatives of the faculties in the Executive Board of the University. In the future, however, they will be released from their functions as “stand-in” deans, since the latter will now themselves be able to represent selected interests of their faculties in the Executive Board of the University. The Vice Presidents can thus focus on university-wide matters falling within their areas of responsibility. Special attention was given to scope and relevance in the allocation of tasks.
The role of Deputy President has been newly created and will be held by one of the Vice Presidents. This person will be responsible for diversity, sustainability, and quality management/evaluations at UZH in addition to their specific area of responsibility as Vice President.
To further professionalize the leadership of the faculties and the Executive Board of the University, the terms of office have also been increased from two to four years. The relevant roles, which are currently part-time, will be converted into full-time functions; however, individual solutions are to be made available to the deans.
Executive Board of the University now with seven members
The Executive Board of the University will be made up of five academic and two non-academic members. Besides the voting members, the meetings of the Executive Board of the University will continue to be attended by three participants in an advisory capacity: The Secretary General, the Head of Communications, as well as the General Counsel.
The future structure of the Executive Board of the University is as follows:
- The current Office of the Vice President for Arts and Social Sciences, headed up Gabriele Siegert, is renamed as the Office of the Vice President Education and Student Affairs, and is given a major overhaul in terms of its area of responsibility: The areas of teaching, student affairs, and continuing education are joined together, creating a thematically coherent unit.
- The current Office of the Vice President for Veterinary Medicine and Science, headed up by Michael Schaepman, is renamed as the Office of the Vice President Research, and will continue to be in charge of university-wide research, innovation, and career development.
- The current Office of the Vice President for Law and Economics, headed up by Christian Schwarzenegger, is renamed as the Office of the Vice President Faculty Affairs and Scientific Information, and is given an overhaul: Its Vice President will oversee all professorial appointments with the direct involvement of the relevant dean. Legal services and data protection, library services, IT, as well as the Digital Society Initiative will also be assigned to this unit.
- The Office of the Vice President Medicine, created as a temporary solution in August 2017 as a result of the splitting up of the former Office of the Vice President for Medicine and Science, will now be headed up by a Vice President Medicine. This unit has a special position compared with the three Offices of the Vice President inasmuch as it continues to directly represent the interests of a faculty within the Executive Board of the University. This is necessary due to the particularly complex environment of university medicine. The aim of this function is to ensure that the Faculty of Medicine, the University’s hospitals, the medicine-related areas of ETH Zurich, and other stakeholders in the health-care sector in the greater Zurich area step up their mutual cooperation and that the University Medicine Zurich (UMZH) network is bolstered further. The Board of the University has put forward professor of anesthesiology Beatrice Beck Schimmer as candidate for the role of Vice President Medicine.
- The new position of Director of Real Estate and Facility Management was already created at the beginning of the year, with real estate affairs being separated from the previous Division of Finances, Human Resources and Infrastructure. This means that there have been two non-academic members on the Executive Board of the University since January 2018: Stefan Schnyder as Director of Finances and Human Resources and Peter Bodmer as interim Director of Real Estate and Facility Management.
- The Executive Board of the University will continue to be headed up by the President. As mentioned, the new position of a deputy will now ease the workload of the President, meaning they will be able to increase their focus on strategy, external relations, and fundraising.
The renaming of the Offices of the Vice Presidents takes effect from 1 August 2018 onwards, while the other changes mentioned above will be realized gradually. During the two-year transition phase, the Vice Presidents will continue to act as the contacts for the faculties assigned to their role. The implementation of the new governance model is expected to be complete by the summer of 2020.
More management responsibility for the dean’s offices
The reform of the Executive Board of the University takes into account the culture and history of UZH. The current decision-making bodies – the Board of the University, the Senate, the Extended Executive Board of the University, the Executive Board of the University, and the seven faculties – will remain in place, as will the autonomy of the faculties. In fact, their autonomy will even be increased: In the future, the deans will more often conclude business at the faculty level. As already mentioned, rather than the Vice Presidents, they will themselves represent the interests of their faculties in the Executive Board of the University.
To involve the faculties more closely in the strategic business of the Executive Board of the University, “strategic dialogues” will be organized whereby each faculty leadership will separately meet with the Executive Board of the University twice a year. Not all of the new roles and responsibilities of the deans have yet been determined precisely. Open questions will be addressed over the next two years in the course of implementing the structural reforms.
To professionalize the leadership of the faculties and the Executive Board of the University, the terms of office will be increased from two to four years and the relevant roles, which are currently part-time, will be converted into full-time functions. As a result, the next terms of office of the members of the Executive Board of the University will last from 1 August 2018 to 31 July 2022. With the exception of Christoph Hock, all of the previous academic members of the Executive Board of the University including President Michael Hengartner will stand for another term of office. Since they are up for re-election, the Board of the University has decided not to establish a search committee. The Extended Executive Board of the University agrees with this decision. The re-elections through the Board of the University will be decided by the Senate meeting of 9 April.
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