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Press Release No. 31 | 18 June 2010
Peter Funke Is New DFG Vice President

Münster Professor of Ancient History Succeeds Frankfurt Early Modern History Expert Luise Schorn-Schütte / Samwer, Scholz-Reiter, Schüth and Wagner Confirmed for Second Term of Office in Executive Committee 

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has a new vice president: on 7 July 2010, Münster professor of ancient history, Peter Funke, was selected by the DFG’s General Assembly in Berlin to join the Executive Committee of Germany’s central research funding organisation. In doing so, Funke will take over the role of vice president in the area of the humanities from the Frankfurt expert on early modern history, Professor Luise Schorn-Schütte, who is stepping down from office at the end of her 6-year term. 

In his new role, Funke aims to get involved in the discussion on “the future of the humanities and social sciences, their position in the research landscape and in their reinforcement, particularly in the area of basic research.” Internationality, too, is an issue of special interest for the new vice president. He is particularly concerned with multilingualism in the humanities and social sciences, as well as what are known as the Kleine Fächer (lesser subjects), whose autonomy is being placed under increasing pressure through higher education policy and whose internationally leading position is, therefore, threatened. 

DFG President Matthias Kleiner welcomed the new vice president as a “renowned scientist and an outstanding authority on the DFG”. Funke has made a name for himself as a champion of scientific self-government in the most diverse roles. “Even outside circles of experts as well, Peter Funke has a great deal to say on science’s role and responsibilities, and on those of the humanities in particular”, Kleiner emphasised. “We are pleased to have been able to win this experienced and respected person for the Executive Committee.” 

Peter Funke is a professor of ancient history and Director of the Institute of Ancient History and the Institute of Epigraphy at the Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster, where he also heads the Research Centre for Historical Geography of Ancient Greece. Born in Rheine in 1950, Funke studied history and German philology in Münster from 1969 to 1974. From there, he transferred to the University of Cologne, where he achieved his doctorate in 1978 and his habilitation in 1985. The ancient history expert held his first professorship at the University of Siegen before being appointed to the Münster position in 1988. 

In his research, Funke is concerned primarily with the history of the Greek states, from the Mycenaean era to the Roman period, as well as with the study of the historical geography and regions of the ancient world. He also focuses on ancient constitutional history and on the relationship between religion and power throughout antiquity. In the latter case, for example, Funke performs research on the role of cults and sanctuaries in ancient treaties. This work is carried out within the framework of the Münster Religion and Politics Cluster of Excellence, a programme funded by the Excellence Initiative. 

Parallel to his research work, Peter Funke has been involved in scientific self-government for many years, as well as in research and scholarship funding. Among his other roles, Funke has served as Vice-Chancellor of Studies and Student Affairs at the University of Münster, and as Chairman of the Joint Educational Reform Commission for North Rhine-Westphalia and the New Media in Higher Education working group of the German Rectors’ Conference. Since 1993, Funke has held the position of DFG Liaison Officer for the Cusanus scholarship body, whose advisory council he also heads. From 2004 to 2008, he led the Association of German Historians, a group that brings together science, politics and society at their conferences (Historikertage). 

Within the DFG, Funke served as a review specialist for ancient history and as Vice Chairman of the Classical Studies Review Committee from 1996 to 2004. He then assumed the role of coordinator of the Ancient Cultures Review Board, in which he served from 2004-2005. Since 1995, he has also maintained close contact with researchers of all disciplines in his capacity as DFG Liaison Officer at the University of Münster. Finally, Funke has also been a member of the DFG Senate and Joint Committee and of the Senate Committee on Strategic Planning since 2005. 

Within the DFG Executive Committee, Funke succeeds Luise Schorn-Schütte, who leaves office in Berlin. DFG President Kleiner paid tribute to the early modern history expert, who stepped down after six years in office. Schorn-Schütte has maintained a close relationship with the DFG since being awarded her own habilitation fellowship more than 20 years ago, and has been involved with the organisation in multiple capacities. “You have helped to shape the fortune of the DFG”, Kleiner stated, and highlighted Schorn-Schütte’s “clear and perspicuous thinking, love of expressive accuracy, and sensitivity for linguistic correctness”. She has, Kleiner continued, driven and enriched a number of important debates, both inside and outside the DFG, including those revolving around German as a language of science and appropriate options for funding the humanities and social sciences through the Excellence Initiative. 

In addition to electing Funke as the new vice president, the meeting in Berlin also re-elected four members of the ten-strong DFG Executive Committee for a second three-year term. These include physicist Professor Konrad Samwer, who, during his first term in office, focused primarily on the topics of Europe and the DFG Senate Commissions; engineering scientist Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter, who has headed the Senate Committee on Strategic Planning since 2007; chemist Professor Ferdi Schüth, who has brought a great deal of impetus to his role as head of the working group responsible for formulating and implementing the DFG’s highly regarded Research-Oriented Standards on Gender Equality; and IT specialist Professor Dorothea Wagner, who has focused her activities primarily on the areas of promoting young scientific researchers and knowledge transfer. 

As well as President Matthias Kleiner, who was re-elected last year for a second term in office which will run until 2012, the new Vice President Peter Funke and the four re-elected vice presidents, the Executive Committee also includes additional Vice Presidents Professor Elisabeth Knust (developmental genetics), Professor Jürgen Schölmerich (clinical/internal medicine), and Professor Christine Windbichler (law). The President of the Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Science and Humanities in Germany (Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft), Dr. Arend Oetker, is a permanent guest. The Executive Committee is responsible for managing the DFG’s day-to-day business, which is conducted by the DFG’s Head Office under the supervision of Secretary-General Dorothee Dzwonnek.

Further Information

Detailed information on the members of the DFG Executive Committee, as well as print-ready photos, are available from: