Three Questions for President Michael Hengartner and Deputy President Gabriele Siegert

Michael Hengartner, why does UZH need new strategic principles?

Michael Hengartner: Our current strategic goals are over six years old, and the time period they cover is up to 2020. So it’s really time to renew them. UZH has over 25,000 students from all over the world, as well as around 9,000 staff working in a huge variety of roles and disciplines. Our strength lies in our diversity. The more diverse the UZH family is though, the more important it is to have core principles on which we all agree.

Gabriele Siegert, aren’t strategic principles just fancy words? Forgotten as soon as they’ve been written down?

Gabriele Siegert: No, not at all. Strategic principles are as indispensable as a ship’s compass at sea. UZH is obliged, within the conditions of its legal framework, to determine its own fate. In order to be able to navigate the future, we need suitable instruments on board. We cannot afford to sail uncharted waters without a navigation system.

Besides research, teaching, learning and academic career development, what else does the draft paper focus on?

Michael Hengartner: There is a focus on international networking, research collaboration with third parties, and UZH’s responsibilities toward society. Emphasis is also placed on fostering a culture of positive interpersonal relationships within UZH, including in relation to leadership and management. We recognize that equal opportunities, diversity and sustainability bring added value to university life.

The One Health approach is also given a high profile. Why is it important?

Gabriele Siegert: It takes into account the systemic connections between humans, animals, the environment and health. UZH’s specific strengths are that it is a comprehensive university offering a wide range of subjects and also has outstanding human and veterinary medicine facilities. The One Health approach enables us to make the best use of those strengths.

Who was involved in drawing up the strategic principles?

Michael Hengartner: It was clearly important to involve a broad range of stakeholders, as the purpose of the paper is to act as a cohesive guide for the whole UZH community. The Extended Executive Board of the University therefore took the initial lead and set up a working group including representatives from the faculties, the representative bodies and the Gender Equality Commission. In addition, the Executive Board of the University was represented by the Director of Finances and Human Resources Stefan Schnyder and Deputy President Gabriele Siegert, who chaired the working group.

Gabriele Siegert: We were able to work very well together – I’m very grateful to all the members of the working group for their efforts thanks to which we made quick progress.  Now I’m looking forward to hearing the results of the consultation.

Full interview

The consultation on the draft strategic principles is open until 21 January 2019. Professors and members of all the representative bodies (VSUZH, VAUZ, PDV and VIP) are invited to take part via their faculties and representative bodies.

The consultation documents are available online.