Press Release No. 65 | 13 December 2012
DFG Says Farewell to Matthias Kleiner
Ceremony in Berlin for Outgoing President / Successful Advocate and Ambassador for German Research at Home and Abroad and Socially Engaged Researcher
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has bid farewell to its president, Prof. Matthias Kleiner, at a ceremony held at the Humboldt Carré in Berlin. At the event, which was attended by 200 invited guests, prominent representatives of the scientific community and politics paid tribute to Kleiner as a successful advocate and ambassador for German research at home and abroad and a socially engaged scientist. Kleiner, the first engineer to hold the top position within the DFG, will end his six-year tenure on 31 December. He returns to TU Dortmund University, where he is professor of metal forming technology. His successor is medieval Germanist Prof. Peter Strohschneider, from Munich, who was elected at the DFG's General Assembly in July.
In her welcome address, DFG Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek underlined the nature and character of the DFG as the central self-governing organisation for German research and, to quote her own words, "a reliable partner to those who want to carry out high-level research in Germany" - describing the framework for Matthias Kleiner's presidency.
Speaking on behalf of the universities - the DFG's core members and the heart of the research system - Prof. Horst Hippler, the President of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK), outlined the numerous research policy initiatives and funding developments that have taken place in the DFG during Kleiner's time in office, to which he gave his personal support and drive: from improved funding opportunities for young researchers and pioneering high-risk research to the "Quality over Quantity" initiative designed to stem the flood of publications and the DFG's research-focused equality standards. Through the implementation of the Excellence Initiative and his successful campaigning for its continuation and expansion, Kleiner has earned lasting recognition with regard to the German university and research system, Hippler stated.
Prof. Annette Schavan, Federal Minister for Education and Research, paid tribute to Kleiner's achievements as an ambassador for Germany as a location for research and innovation. "You regarded this as your responsibility, indeed your vocation, one which you pursued with tremendous conviction," said the minister. With his consistent commitment at the European and international level, she continued, Kleiner not only increased Germany's standing in research and research policy, but also raised the profile of research and research policy in Germany. In conclusion, the minister also thanked Kleiner for the "amiable manner" with which he fulfilled his role and engaged in dialogue with political representatives.
The Minister of Science for Lower Saxony, Prof. Johanna Wanka, also emphasised the outgoing president's commitment to the Europeanisation and internationalisation of the German research landscape, as well as his "sensitivity to the issues faced by universities". He already possessed both these qualities when he took office, said Prof. Wanka, and in both fields he energetically and successfully represented the interests of research in general and universities in particular.
Schavan and Wanka also applauded Kleiner's social engagement, making special mention of his work as Chairman of the Ethics Commission on Energy Transition set up by the federal government. "Matthias Kleiner is a researcher who cares deeply about the community," said Schavan.
Speaking on behalf of the European and international research organisations, as well as personally, Prof. Pär Omling, the President of the European Science Foundation and former President of the Swedish Research Council, praised Kleiner's commitment to the expansion of the European research landscape.
The future DFG President Peter Strohschneider underlined Kleiner's "understanding of the interests of science in general" and thanked him for the "friendliness, friendship and fairness" with which he carried out his office and paved the way for his successor.
Kleiner responded to these tributes with personal thanks of his own: to his wife and three children, members of the political sphere, the academic and scientific communities, research organisations, and, not least, the DFG and the researchers who work for and with the DFG as applicants, reviewers and committee members, and finally the staff at the DFG Head Office and Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek. "The office of DFG President is the best the research world has to offer," he said by way of conclusion. "It is an enormous privilege to have served in this role."