Michael O. Hengartner began his term as President of swissuniversities at the start of 2016. During his first term of office, he worked to ensure that all Swiss higher education institutions speak with one voice. Up until 2014, the umbrella organizations of the universities, the universities of applied sciences, and the universities of teacher education were separate entities. United under swissuniversities, the institutions quickly cultivated a clearer understanding for each other and their various concerns, and can now develop joint projects and perspectives. Michael O. Hengartner plans to continue this work: In his second term, he aims to further strengthen mutual trust among the institutions as well as the joint projects they conduct. Hengartner says,
“We want the institutions and their researchers to play a greater role in the political sphere. Policymakers and society alike expect higher education institutions to provide answers to today’s pressing questions, for instance: digitalization. But topics such as the issues surrounding open science also present major challenges to higher education institutions.”
About the person
Michael O. Hengartner was elected President of the University of Zurich in 2014. A Swiss-Canadian dual citizen, Hengartner was born in St. Gallen in 1966 and grew up in Québec. He studied biochemistry at the Université Laval and earned his PhD in 1994 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the lab of Nobel Laureate Robert Horvitz. He led a research group at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the US before being appointed professor at the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences of the University of Zurich, in 2001. He was Dean of the Faculty of Science of the University of Zurich from 2009 to 2014.
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