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Michael Hengartner Appointed as President of the ETH Board

Michael Hengartner will step down as President of the University of Zurich next year. The Swiss Federal Council today appointed him as President of the ETH Board.


Michael Hengartner, President of UZH


UZH President Michael Hengartner has today been appointed as the new President of the ETH Board. This choice was proposed by Guy Parmelin, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research. Michael Hengartner will take over from Fritz Schiesser, who resigned from his role at the end of April 2019. He will take up his new position as President of the ETH Board on 1 February 2020.

“Being appointed President of the ETH Board is an immense honor,” says Michael Hengartner. “I look forward to devoting myself to promoting the ETH Domain and Switzerland as a hub of education and research in this new role.”

Michael Hengartner has been President of UZH since February 2014. He completed his doctoral degree in 1994 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Nobel laureate H. Robert Horvitz. Following this, he led a research group at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the US until 2001. He was appointed professor at the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences of UZH 19 years ago, and served as dean of the Faculty of Science from 2009 to 2014. In addition, Michael Hengartner has been President of swissuniversities, the umbrella organization for all higher education institutions in Switzerland, since 2016. 

“Saying goodbye to the University of Zurich will be very difficult,” says Michael Hengartner. “Being president of the largest university of Switzerland is a great privilege and the past six years in this office have been a tremendously intense, inspiring and educational time for me.” 

During his period in office, many large-scale projects have taken shape. His focus has been on creating ties for UZH at the local, national and international level, building UZH’s profile as a center of competence for digital change, planning the modernization of the university’s infrastructure, and strengthening its management and leadership structures.

Zurich government councilor Silvia Steiner regrets that Michael Hengartner has decided to resign as President of UZH: “Michael Hengartner is an excellent president, who has run the University of Zurich with great expertise, passion and imagination. I deeply regret that he is resigning, but at the same time I am glad that as the new President of the ETH Board he will continue working for the Swiss education system.”

Michael Hengartner will step down as President of UZH on 31 January 2020. The process to find a successor will be launched by the Board of the University.