Technische Universität Berlin

The Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin

The president of Technische Universität Berlin Professor Christian Thomsen regularly shares his thoughts on the current situation in a letter to all University staff.

Bulletin no. 24 / Committee elections – Postal ballot – Thank you to everyone making the elections possible

Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin, no. 24

Berlin, 25 November 2021

Contents

  • Committee elections – Postal ballot – Thank you to everyone making the elections possible

To
All TU Berlin staff

Dear TU Members,
Today, I would like to take the opportunity to remind you of the committee elections at TU Berlin, which will be taking place from 7 until 9 December 2021. Despite the current situation, the elections will be going ahead as ballot box elections on campus. Many of you are working tirelessly to help get everything ready.

I was delighted to see that 80 members of our university responded to our call for election assistants. I would like to express my sincerest thanks to all of you! This is an example of how we can all help shape life at TU Berlin.

I would also like to draw your attention to the option to vote via postal ballot. More than 1000 members of the University have already applied to do so and you still have until 30 November to register for the relevant documents via the TU Portal. Take advantage of this offer! 

You can find everything you need to know about the committee elections online.

A new addition to our election website are the manifestos of the lists standing for election to the Academic Senate and the Extended Academic Senate. We will also shortly publish the addresses of the polling stations.

I would like to thank everybody involved, in the Election Office or the faculties, the members of the Motivation und Wahlen working group, and the candidates themselves, for helping make these elections possible.

Find about the elections, take part in the vote, and help shape the future of TU Berlin!

As always, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with me 

atfeedback@uni.tu-berlin.de 

 

Many thanks and stay healthy!

Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Bulletin no. 23 / Discussion of the amendment to the Berlin Higher Education Act regarding permanent positions for postdocs

Berlin, 5 November 2021

 

Contents

  • Discussion of the amendment to the Berlin Higher Education Act regarding permanent positions for postdocs

 

To
All staff

Dear Members of TU Berlin,

The most recent amendment to the Berlin Higher Education Act (BerlHG) obliges universities, under Section 110, to offer post-doctoral researchers paid from state funds a follow-up guarantee of a permanent position at the time of hiring.

This amendment is intended to end the ongoing temporary employment of researchers in response to the national debate surrounding #IchbinHanna. Universities, on the other hand, argue that a postdoc is the continuation of a researcher's academic training with the aim of obtaining a Habilitation or equivalent scientific achievements to formally fulfill the prerequisites for a professorship. This qualification goal forms the legal basis for temporary contracts, which is regulated at national level in the act on temporary employment in higher education (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz).

But how did this fraught situation regarding permanent contracts in the German science system arise? Nobody wishes to deny young researchers a permanent contract in academia and neither does the pejorative wording in the Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s #IchbinHanna film, which talks about "clogging up" the science system, fairly reflect the reality of the lives of young researchers. The reason is another one. I have elaborated on this in an article published today (5 November 2021) in the online version of the Tagesspiegel's science and education section.

I would like to briefly state what I would like to see happen.

I am convinced that we need to protest and at the same time take action. It is the young academics themselves who will end up bearing the brunt of any kind of unwanted gridlock. We cannot allow this to happen. We have to reach an agreement with Berlin's politicians in order to correct unclear formulations in the law and preserve our capacity to act. We also have to fight for more money, particularly in the next round of higher education agreement negotiations. We need the support of everyone for this. And we need to search for other solutions in this difficult situation. I outlined one possible solution in my article for the Tagesspiegel and there are doubtless other solutions available.

We will update you on developments and will be inviting anyone interested to discuss this topic again at a TU Berlin forum.

We will continue to give our full attention to this issue!

As always, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with me at  feedback@uni.tu-berlin.de 

Many thanks and stay healthy!

Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Bulletin no. 22 / Additional vacation day for all TU staff in recognition of efforts

Berlin, 29 October 2021

Contents

  • Additional vacation day for all TU staff in recognition of efforts

To
All staff

Dear Members of TU Berlin,

We are now in our fourth semester under pandemic conditions. We have all had to contend with difficult circumstances and will continue to face restrictions when working, researching, and teaching for many weeks to come. Overall, our ability to work has been hugely impacted and we have had to take on many new tasks as well. Nevertheless, TU Berlin has been able to continue its operations thanks to your commitment and dedication.

The Executive Board would like to thank you and recognize your efforts by granting an additional vacation day to all staff employed at TU Berlin prior to 1 October 2021.

This special leave with pay can be taken through 31 March 2022 and requested as usual. Leave can be requested using the usual forms (quick access 152691 for civil servants and 152692 for staff covered by collective agreements) and should include the note "Sonderurlaub Corona."  Requests for leave which have already been submitted remain unaffected.

I hope you will be able to take advantage of this offer to enjoy some well-earned rest.

As always, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with me at feedback@uni.tu-berlin.de 

Many thanks and stay healthy!

Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Bulletin, no. 21 / Invitation to the TU Forum and the Future Congress

Berlin, 18 October 2021

To
All staff at TU Berlin

Contents

  • Invitation to the TU Forum and the Future Congress

 

Dear Members of TU Berlin,

I would like to begin by wishing you a good start to the lecture period on behalf of the Executive Board. This is now our fourth semester under pandemic conditions, and all of you without exception continue to contribute a great deal of energy, perseverance and creativity to make everything work as well as possible and enable classes to go ahead for our more than 33,000 students. Your efforts as a team are without precedent. I would like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to you all.

We can all see I think that TU Berlin is changing and that it needs to do so. The TU Berlin/Staff Council agreement on mobile working is an example of this as is the reorganization process taking place in our personnel department. In periods of change, information and communication as well as the ability to listen to and value each other are of immense importance.

This is why I have started my "Cup of tea with..." tour of the University. Over the next weeks, I will be visiting 12 teams to listen to staff discuss important topics, problems and possible solutions. In light of the positive feedback and experiences, I will be continuing my tour in 2022.

We will also be initiating two further internal events in the winter semester to help us stay well informed, communicate with each other, and move our University forward together.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to both events.

 

TU Forum on 26 October 2021

Members of the Executive Board will be discussing a selection of topics important to us all in our daily working lives as well as presenting its plans for the future and answering your questions. If the format proves a success, we will look to hold the event again in the future.

The TU Forum will take place in digital format and focus on the following topics:

Light at the end of the tunnel? What exactly are the next steps for the personnel department and what have we achieved so far?

A regulation and its consequences - what will happen to our postdocs following the new amendment to the Berlin State Higher Education Act?

The TU Forum will take place via Webex on 26 October 2021 from 10:00 until 11:00.

You can find further details and the link for the event at https://www.tu.berlin/go33750/

 

Future Congress on 11 and 12 November 2021

We need the input of all our members to create a university for the future! This is why we would like to invite you all to attend our future congress "Shaping the New Normal & Re-Thinking our University” on 11 and 12 November 2021. We aim to explore together concepts and ideas during in-depth dialogue groups, a bar camp on current restructuring processes, as well as various networking opportunities. Your initiative is required and encouraged! We would like to financially support the implementation of the best, most feasible, most visionary and most creative ideas

You will receive an invitation to the event shortly.

I would like to ask all supervisors to allow staff wishing to attend to take part in both events, unless their presence is otherwise urgently required. Thank you!

Once again, I would like to wish you all a good start to the lecture period on behalf of all my colleagues on the Executive Board.

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with me at feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de 

Many thanks and stay healthy!
Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen, President of Technische Universität Berlin

Bulletin, no. 20 / Organizational Development in Human Resources (II T)

Berlin, 17 September 2021

Content

  • Organizational Development in Human Resources (II T)

 

To
All staff at TU Berlin

 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen and Members of TU Berlin,

Today I would like to inform you of the status of our project Organizational Development II-T (Human Resources) as well as ask for your personal support.

The project has been underway since the end of July 2021 with help from the external consulting agency meHRsalz. Our greatest aim is to optimize our personnel procedures. To achieve this, we are closely examining processes, structures, IT systems, as well as collaboration within teams and with others at TU Berlin. Everything is being closely assessed without exception.

During the first weeks, we drew up a blunt actual state analysis with meHRsalz. Our own staff members played an integral role in this process, which, while extremely complex, is often freeing.

In addition to the impacts of the coronavirus and restricted IT operations, numerous additional factors were identified which have contributed to the critical situation in Department II. These include staff and IT resources as well as the management culture.

To be clear: We first need to restore each team's ability to work before we can take on greater changes. We are applying all our resources to this effort. This is a further sign of the gravity of the situation, as well as our will to tackle the problems genuinely and from the root with external support.

We require not only objective, professional action but also empathy for the affected staff as well as time to actively listen to each other. I will also be taking time to listen.

 

What have we determined thus far?

For the duration of the project, there will be an organizational change in Human Resources (II T): We have established a central office for incoming mail. This office is also responsible for centrally managing all requests. All important information about this central office can be found in the vice president of administration's letter to employees of 17 September 2021.

All requests, both new and previously unprocessed, will be centrally assessed there and then assigned to staff in the Human Resources teams. The prioritization previously determined together with the faculty service centers will be discontinued. Effective immediately, all requests must be sent through the central office.

Numerous vacancies have rendered the teams unable to work. As a result, this developed solution is the only feasible approach. A centralized system will also help us gain a better understanding of the scope of requests which remain to be processed.

This central office will be staffed by additional employees. The Central Procurement Office has offered its support and is providing five staff members during this beginning phase. Thank you for your invaluable support. We will also be hiring temporary staff for a short time.

The vice president of administration will provide further details in his letter.

 

We need your help!

In order to work through the backlog of outstanding requests, Human Resources requires support from the TU Berlin community. One such example is the support provided by Faculty VII Economics and Management: Anne Bamberg, an experienced team administrative officer will be helping to work through personnel requests in Team 1. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Professor Jan Kratzer, Professor Sören Salomon, and Professor Katrin Talke, who have agreed to release Anne Bamberg from her faculty duties four days a week. Many thanks also to her colleagues who will be assuming her original responsibilities in the meantime. Many other units, such as the Travel Expenses Office, are also offering their support.

However, we require even more helping hands. We are searching for staff members who are interested in human resources and preferably are familiar with keeping personnel files as well as with personnel procedures and requests. If your unit is able to temporarily release staff members from their primary duties (at least 3 days/week for at least 3 months), please contact the head of the Executive Office, Isabel Teusch (isabel.teusch(at)tu-berlin.de). She will organize all further contact.

Please help us as TU Berlin but more importantly your colleagues in the Human Resources teams. We need you!

I invite you to continue to share your thoughts and ideas with me at feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de 

Many thanks and stay healthy!

Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Bulletin, no. 19 / Reorganization of Human Resources Processes

Dear Colleagues,

Today I would like to tell you about our plans for Department II – Human Resources and Legal Affairs. As you know, the work of our human resources teams is very important for the University and includes key processes such as job postings, hiring staff, and paying salaries. Staff working in these teams as well as in Organizational Management are highly committed to their work, which involves very considerable challenges.

Switching our admin procedures to SAP has proven, and in some cases continues to be, a difficult task for the entire Central University Administration. Introducing SAP places a particular burden on staff directly involved in the process as well as those colleagues required to take on some of their work as a result. Everyone affected has to learn new programs and procedures and this takes time.

Then there is the issue of reduced capacity - also very probably attributable to the difficulties faced by our administration. This is the result of staff turnover, sickness, and a shortage of suitably qualified staff, the latter a widespread problem in the administrative departments of public service.

We are also aware that there is a need to simplify, streamline, and expedite our administrative processes and procedures.                                                                             

It was against this background that we were then hit by the Coronavirus pandemic and later by the fallout from the criminal hacker attack on our IT infrastructure, which brought the work of many units within the Central University Administration to a near standstill.

This leads us to two conclusions:

Firstly, we have a duty to our colleagues and the University to find a solution for this difficult situation. Secondly, we have to develop a modern human resources department for the long term. In concrete terms, this is a matter of working through backlogs and reorganizing processes.

Our first priority is to restore complete working capacity and reduce backlogs in human resources so as to enable and ensure effective research and teaching in the coming winter semester. We also want to reduce the workload of our human resources teams, facilitate a structured reduction of backlogs, increase job satisfaction, reduce staff turnover, and fill vacant positions.

To make a start, we began by deciding what our priorities are. Most important are the payment of salaries (staff in human resources and Campus Management have worked tirelessly to achieve this), extending contracts which are about to expire, and essential hirings. However, this only represents an ad hoc solution.

To find a sustainable, long-term solution, we have now initiated a process working with meHRsalz, a company with SAP expertise specializing in human resources procedures, to develop and implement measures together with our human resources teams and Organizational Management.

We will also be calling on expertise from within the University: Heike Gempf will be joining the project from the University Library to work in the operative steering group. Her duties include actively supporting the daily work of the human resources teams.  Heike is familiar with the inner workings of the central administration as well as the perspective of the decentralized units. Pascal Koch will also join the operative steering group while continuing to head the human resources teams.

We have also convened an advisory board made up of members of the University. These include Professor Rüdiger Zarnekow representing the deans of the faculties, Christof Roesrath as representative of the faculty service centers, Michaela Müller-Klang as SAP project coordinator and representative of the University’s central institutes as well as Uta Gleim as director of the Executive Office and Stephanie Nickel in her function as chair of the Staff Council.

The project reports directly to the vice president for administration as do the participating units (IIT, II IT-OM) during the period of the project.

The project was launched on 23 July 2021 and is scheduled to run until 31 March 2022. I anticipate that we will achieve our key milestones by then. We need to introduce swift and tangible improvements.

Parallel to this, we are also seeking a qualified replacement for the head of Human Resources and Legal Affairs, Beate Niemann-Wieland. Beate has now left to take up a post elsewhere and I would like to extend my thanks to her for her many years’ hard work and commitment to the University.

It is important for me to inform you directly about the steps we are taking and I will keep you updated on developments.

I hope everyone involved will find the resolve, the courage to make changes, and the readiness to cooperate needed to take on this difficult but essential task. I would like to thank each of you individually and wish you every success!

You can also read an interview with vice president for administration Lars Oeverdieck at www.tu.berlin/go32512.

As always, I look forward to receiving your thoughts and suggestions at feedback@uni.tu-berlin.de.

Many thanks to you all and stay healthy!

Sincerely,
Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Berlin, 9 August 2021

 

Bulletin, no. 18 / Winter Semester 2021/2022

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Members of TU Berlin,

It is now time to turn out attention to winter semester 2021/2022 following the publication today of a paper outlining key points for studying and teaching https://www.lkrp-berlin.de/aktuelles/210730-eckpunkte-wintersemester-21-22/index.html by the Senate Chancellery and the Berlin universities.

After three online semesters, we finally have the chance to offer an in-person semester once again this fall, albeit with restrictions. The pre-requisites for this are a high rate of vaccination and a low rate of infection.

There are still many details to be decided, but the Berlin universities have already agreed on a vaccinated-recovered-tested rule for anyone wishing to attend in-person classes. This means that only persons who have either recovered from COVID, and/or been fully vaccinated, or who have a valid negative test will be able to attend classes on campus.

In addition to attending courses at the University, an in-person semester also provides students the chance to meet up with their peers and enjoy the campus as a place to study, teach, discuss, and spend time together again for the first time since March 2020. We owe our students the opportunity to return to proper student life at TU Berlin.  

However, not all classes will be held in lecture halls or seminar rooms. The videos produced in the last three semesters have proved an effective means of teaching for students and instructors and we will continue to use them in the future, particularly for courses with large lectures.

The TU Berlin Crisis Committee is currently discussing the exact conditions for studying on campus and how best to implement the vaccinated-recovered-tested rule. We will inform you in good time of its decisions.

What does this mean for us all?

All TU students, particularly first-semester students, need to be in Berlin so that they can attend classes on campus. This also includes our international students, who will need to make arrangements to arrive here in good time. 

I would also request teaching staff to prepare for the upcoming semester on the basis of the plans outlined here. 

It is also important to be aware that an in-person semester depends on there being no dramatic increase in infections in the fall and on as many students as possible being fully vaccinated by October. 

As you are probably aware, TU Berlin is continuing to work with Diagnotikum Berlin to offer appointments for first and second vaccination doses with a number of different vaccines and I would like to renew my call for all members of the University, staff and students, to vaccinate so that we can take a major step towards returning to normality.

Preparing for the winter semester will require a lot of hard work and I am aware that the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in places many demands on us. All of you who have contributed over the last months to making the impossible possible deserve the greatest respect. I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal respect and thanks for everything you have achieved!

I would also like to thank our vice president for teaching, Hans-Ulrich Heiß, for his tireless work in adapting studying and teaching at the University to all the many changes in the corona regulations. You can read an interview with Professor Heiß here: https://www.tu.berlin/en/themen/coronavirus/in-person-winter-semester-with-vaccinated-recovered-tested-rule/

As always, I would like to invite you all to share your thoughts and suggestions with me at feedback@uni.tu-berlin.de

Stay healthy!

Sincerely,
Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Berlin, 23 July 2021

Bulletin, no. 17 / Availability of IT services

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Members of TU Berlin,

The consequences of the cyberattack continue to affect our work and the resulting problems and loss of services impact us all. The illegal hack brought much of the University’s digital nervous system to a standstill. We are gradually restoring this system and making our IT services available once again. 

This week, administrators working on campus were able to start checking and reconfiguring the computers used by the Central University Administration. This means that staff will be able to use these computers again in the not too distant future. However, we need to remember that this affects more than 700 computers which have been out of service since the start of May and that it will take some time. However, we have made a start.  

Basic access to the central administration’s file system also became possible this week. After assigning the appropriate rights, the various departments and units will be able to access their data and documents again.

The electronic key service also began operating again this week.

Looking forward to next month, Exchange will be available again as will the TU Portal, initially mainly for student service offers. Additional services for staff will be reintroduced gradually.

The first stage of the new identity management system (IDM) is planned for the start of September. This will enable new students and staff to complete the provisioning process to be able to use TU Berlin IT services.

In the coming weeks, we will provide you with an updated list of all IT services using a traffic-light system. This will make it possible for you to see at a glance which services are available. Our aim is to provide all users with the most up-to-date information possible.

Please note that if you have not yet changed your TU password, you should do so as soon as possible: https://www.tu.berlin/en/go1043/n5015/

I very much appreciate your continued patience and understanding during what is a difficult period. We are doing everything we can to return things to normal as quickly as possible. Please continue to work with your colleagues to help us overcome the difficulties we face and move forward together.

I would like to express my thanks to you all for all your efforts.

Finally, please get vaccinated as soon as possible. We as a university can only plan effectively for the winter semester if as many people as possible get vaccinated. This is so important for our students, who wish to return to campus to study with their fellow students after three semesters studying online. A vaccination also helps protect you, your family, and your colleagues.

Appointments are available for University members and external teaching staff with our cooperating vaccination practice Diagnostikum Berlin. All you need to do is select the reason for your appointment:

https://www.doctolib.de/medizinisches-versorgungszentrum-mvz/berlin/impfpraxis-diagnostikum-berlin

 

As always, I would be delighted to read your ideas and suggestions. 

Please contact me at feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de 

Many thanks. Stay healthy!

Sincerely,
Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Berlin, 23 July 2021

 

Bulletin, no. 16 / TU Berlin Introduces Mobile Working for up to 40 Percent of Working Time

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear TU Members,

Before many of you leave on summer holiday, I would like to revisit a topic I addressed in one of my bulletins last year: What do you think about working at the office three days a week and from home the remaining two? Can you imagine such an arrangement? Can you picture your team meeting once a week while working independently and digitally for the remainder of the week? Do we need to maintain fixed working hours? Or is our output more important? How can we organize this at a public university?

In response, I received more than 100 emails from staff detailing their suggestions, concerns, and expectations.

Many of you are interested in continuing to work from home, at least partially, after the pandemic.

Your input encouraged us to move forward with negotiations with the staff councils regarding mobile working. We have now signed an agreement which allows you to work a maximum of 40 percent of your monthly working hours away from the University.

We are in the midst of a societal shift. Standards and ideas as well as hopes and needs are changing. We want to respond to this pressure for change but also to the will to change and shape our working environment at TU Berlin to reflect modern practices. The practical experiences we have gained throughout the pandemic will help us to achieve this.

This new agreement and how it is used will change our entire working culture. It offers advantages to TU Berlin as an employer and significantly improves employees' flexibility in organizing their workday. In particular, this agreement will improve our profile as an employer. We all benefit when employees find greater satisfaction in their work here and strengthen their commitment to TU Berlin. Of course, you also personally benefit from the time gained by no longer needing to commute. You can spend your time more valuably instead of in cramped buses and trains.

While it offers many advantages, mobile working also introduces many new challenges, such as team management. More than ever, communication and mutual understanding will be key to effective teamwork. It will be necessary to balance staff's personal wishes on the one hand as well as the requirements and demands of TU Berlin on the other. This is a learning process we must embrace.

I ask that you view this instrument as a promising opportunity for us all.

Currently, we are still dealing with the impacts of the pandemic and cyberattack. Working from home wherever possible remains a priority. This means that the maximum limit to mobile working as laid out in the TU Berlin/Staff Council agreement (40%) is not applicable.  It will also not be possible to formally request mobile working until the TU portal is once again accessible.

Until such time, please use the next weeks to familiarize yourself with this instrument. Think about how you would like to use mobile working. All supervisors should also consider how hybrid work with team members on and off campus can be best realized. Talk to each other and make a plan.

More information about Mobile Working at TU Berlin: https://www.tu.berlin/en/themen/mobile-working-at-the-tu-berlin/

 

I invite you to continue to share your thoughts and ideas with me at feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de 

Many thanks and stay healthy!

Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen, 16 July 2021
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Bulletin, no. 15 / Members of TU Berlin can now book an appointment for the coronavirus vaccine

Dear Members of Technische Universität Berlin,

In the midst of these challenging times, I am happy to share some good news with you:

Since 11 June 2021, we have been able to offer TU staff the coronavirus vaccine. This week we are also able to offer 900 vaccinations to our students.

Staff can now book an appointment for Friday, 18 June 2021 at https://impfen.tu-berlin.de

The Biontech vaccine will be used for these appointments.

Vaccination appointments for student employees will be offered shortly.

Beginning this week, the registration portal will release appointments every Friday for the following week. One easy way to remember is this: Friday is vaccination day at TU Berlin!   

I am very glad that we are able to provide this service. The vaccination is an opportunity to protect your health and is an important, if not the most crucial step in preventing further spread of the virus.

In addition to our vaccination program, the Crisis Committee and Executive Board are developing plans to allow teaching and work on campus during winter semester 2021/2022. This is a complex undertaking. Tested, vaccinated, recovered - these guidelines together with hygiene regulations will allow us to achieve this. We are also re-measuring all lecture halls and important seminar rooms to allow for the greatest possible capacity while still maintaining the necessary distance (1.5 meters instead of 2 as previously) and ventilating them. In addition, we have been able to equip several of our large lecture halls with new technology to accommodate hybrid events (simultaneously in-person and virtual).

Our coronavirus testing center is actively used, administering approximately 3,000 tests each week. I am particularly pleased that we can also offer study spaces in the University Library to students for use until 24:00.

While all of these steps are signs of hope of a return to normalcy, they do not permit us to act recklessly. Protecting the health of all our members remains our priority in all decisions we take.

Once again I would like to invite you to contact me to share your experiences and ideas at feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de. I look forward to your comments and discussing them with you.

Sincerely,
Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

Berlin, 15 June 2021

Bulletin, no. 14 / TU Berlin is 75 years old

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Members of TU Berlin,

Today, TU Berlin is 75 years old, or young – depending on how you see it. In the current circumstances, a major celebration is perhaps not appropriate, but we would like to mark the occasion by affirming our history.

Over the past 75 years, there have been many examples of how TU Berlin reflects developments in society. I am not referring here to updating degree programs and identifying new research topics in response to changing events, such as the current pandemic.

I am thinking more of other things, which are not part of the University's core agenda but which help define our character and how we are perceived by the outside world. I would like to focus on just four events to illustrate what I mean:

Students wishing to enroll at TU Berlin back in 1946 had to provide proof of completing 100 hours’ work clearing away rubble and assisting in the rebuilding process. Anyone needing to enter University premises during the lockdown in March/April 2020 to help maintain core operations had to present a special pass confirming their urgent presence on campus. Another event from another period: In 1989, TU staff gathered in the foyer of the Main Building to distribute the 100 Deutschmarks which the German federal government made available to anyone entering from the GDR after the fall of the Berlin Wall. On Monday, we will be opening a coronavirus test center on the forecourt for our staff and anyone living in Berlin.

These events show that we are not an institution where teachers, researchers, students and staff work in isolation. Our campus has no hard borders and we are a cosmopolitan and open university located in the heart of a thriving metropolis.

I very much hope that an effective vaccination and testing strategy will enable us to open again soon, to be open in the most literal sense of the word with our campus and its lecture halls, canteens and offices filled with students, staff and visitors meeting and talking together.

We have all demonstrated in the past twelve months that we respond to major challenges by uniting and growing together. The coronavirus pandemic represents one of, if not the major challenge faced by TU Berlin in its recent history; a challenge which are still fighting to overcome. We will need all our strength to see this through and make a new start combining the best of what we have achieved now and in the period before the coronavirus. We will not be founding a new institution like in 1946, but we will be creating a university of the future. I am absolutely convinced of this. Today’s anniversary and the Conference for the Future taking place in June 2021, and to which you are all invited to contribute your ideas, represent a chance to work together to create a new concept for TU Berlin.

It is up to us to shape the future of our university and respond to the challenges of society.

As a birthday greeting to you all, we have prepared two films to guide you through the history of our university and present current developments at TU Berlin. The first is entitled “Campus of Opposites” and explores how the new beginning in 1946 manifested itself in the University’s architecture as well as its research and teaching. The second film is entitled “A View of the Future” and considers the kind of university we want TU Berlin to be after the pandemic. You can watch both films online.

What we have achieved in the past and what we are continuing to achieve today fill me with a sense of pride, with joy and a strong sense of hope for many good years to come as well as interesting developments at TU Berlin.

Happy birthday, dear Technische Universität Berlin! We wish you the very best for the future!

I wish you all good health and a successful start to summer semester 2021.

Sincerely,
Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen

Berlin,  9 April 2021

Weekly Bulletin, no. 13 / Best wishes for the start of the new year and Current Plans for Summer Semester

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Colleagues,

As we enter the new year, I would like to resume the dialogue we commenced last summer semester. Your feedback suggests that these bulletins represent an effective means of communication. I will therefore be addressing you regularly this year too, even if not on a weekly basis as before. You can count on this.

This year, the Atrium once again played host to the New Year’s Reception. Despite not being able to gather in person, we were able to continue our long tradition of holding this event in this wonderful space. I very much recommend our video to anyone missing life on campus at TU Berlin. Enjoy the music of Beethoven as you join us on a drone flight through the Main Building. The video also includes my speech and very best wishes for a healthy 2021.

Unfortunately, the pandemic will continue to affect our actions for some months to come. This will require patience, understanding, discipline and mutual support. We are now in a phase that will place even greater demands on us in both our professional and private lives than the preceding months. This is something I myself am aware of when schooling and looking after my children at home. As for many of you, these two activities have now become part of my everyday life. We will need all our strength to deal with the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in. I am certain that together we will find the necessary resources and determination to cope.

Today, we published a new information letter from the Crisis Committee. The current situation has required us to amend our regulations in accordance with the Berlin ordinance for preventing the spread of infection. These new regulations require us to work more from home and less on campus and mean that there will be no face-to-face written examinations until 13 February 2021. I would like to ask you all to continue your outstanding efforts and to demonstrate understanding for the fact that many processes will take longer to complete as a result of staff working from home while also schooling and looking after their children. We will continue to provide all our administrative processes. Given the circumstances, this represents an enormous achievement and I would like to express my gratitude to you all!

Once again, I would like to invite you to contact me to share your experiences and ideas at:  feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de. I look forward to our dialogue. 

Best wishes for the start of the new year. Stay healthy!

Sincerely,
Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

Berlin, 22 January 2021

Weekly Bulletin, no. 12

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin, no. 12
19 August 2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are coping well with the hot weather and have been able to enjoy your vacations and time off work. Above all, I hope you are all well.

We all continue to follow the development of the pandemic with bated breath. The past five months have taught us many things – about ourselves, how we work and that we are able to achieve a great deal under truly adverse circumstances. But they have also shown us what does not work so well and which processes we need to improve if we are to make progress.

We know now which processes we need to work on. However, making progress requires above all else effective and constructive cooperation between the faculties, the University management, lecturers, researchers and staff working in academic support units. We have to work together to make this happen and to organize effective means of communication. A fair approach towards colleagues is essential here, particularly an appreciation of their work and an awareness that every organizational unit at the University is doing its utmost to deal with the situation.

A great deal of work lies ahead of us. We all want to contribute through our efforts to supporting research at TU Berlin and ensuring that the quality of our teaching is maintained. These goals are what unite us. Let us work together closely to overcome the challenges of these exceptional times.

We also need people to organize this cooperation, to create a space for constructive dialogue, for praise, for criticism and for new suggestions; people who can reach out to others and take on challenges. The position of vice president for administration has a central role to play in this. As head of the central administration, he/she has to take care of the University’s administrative requirements, manage processes and ensure that the faculties have the space they need to conduct their work effectively. The position requires someone capable of building bridges.

I believe that in Lars Oeverdieck we have found the right person to take on these tasks following the departure of Dr. Mathias Neukirchen. Lars Oeverdieck will take on the duties of the vice president for administration from 19 August 2020 until a successor has been found for the position. Lars Oeverdieck has been director of the Executive Office since 2014. Previously, he headed the administration of Faculty II for a number of years, where he made a major contribution to the creation of the Matheon DFG Research Center. As director of the Executive Office, he contributed to the founding of the Einstein Center Digital Future and oversaw the establishment of the new climate institute. He was also involved in key stages of the successful Berlin University Alliance application. He has a central role to play in the SAP project and is additionally head of the Corona Crisis Committee at TU Berlin. In short: He knows the University, both from the perspective of the faculties and the central administration; he knows how things work here and understands the mindset of TU Berlin. I am convinced that he is the right person for this position, both now and for the times that lie ahead of us.

We have set ourselves four goals:

  1. We aim to and indeed need to continue to effectively manage the coronavirus crisis and its impacts on TU Berlin.
  2. We are also looking to improve and change processes and push on with SAP through intense discussions between the faculties and the Central University Administration.
  3. We want to introduce more instruments to help promote dialogue. Lars Oeverdieck and the Executive Board will take account of the suggestions from the deans and the faculties to provide new forums for dialogue in the near future.
  4. As before, our overriding aim is to protect health and prevent the spread of the virus.

Lars Oeverdieck discusses these goals and his new role in an interview:
https://www.tu.berlin/en/go9984/

The following request is addressed to all at TU Berlin: Help the University thrive in the coming times - give your support to Lars Oeverdieck and help us achieve our goals through your efforts.

I will write to you again in September.

As always, I look forward to receiving your mails, comments and suggestions. Write to me here feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de and I will reply to you.

Stay healthy!

Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

Weekly Bulletin, no. 11

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin No. 11
Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
dear TU Berlin staff,

Prompted by the special circumstances of this summer semester, we have experienced a discussion over the past few weeks that has revolved around both how to cope with the pandemic and how to shape the future of our university. In my weekly bulletin, I asked you to share your ideas and experiences with me. I received more than 100 detailed responses. This does not include the intensive communication between you and the Crisis Committee or with the offices of the president or vice presidents.

I promised to consider your concerns, tips, and ideas for the future in my plans for TU Berlin. I would now like to make good that promise. I have created a plan for the future of our university, not to be implemented in a year's time, but now, and which does not focus on a single detail, but rather aims to open up an entire line of development. I have presented extracts of these plans to the Executive Board, Academic Senate, and Board of Trustees. I would like to share them here in the weekly bulletin, my personal letter to you all, for the first time in detail and in writing. This is very important to me.

 

The “tubstart2020” program

Our initial questions were: How do we want to work in the future: from home, from campus, flexibly?

Which ways of working have proven effective during the crisis?  What role does in-presence work play in research, teaching, and administration?

Which developments can and should be initiated in areas that support scientific work?

What legal bases need to be adapted to flexible working models?

What do we have to change to further develop TU Berlin as a part of public service, as an international research university, and as an attractive employer?

Using these questions as a starting point, I would like to introduce a new outlook for the development of TU Berlin and highlight specific measures. The aim of “tubstart2020” is to enable flexible working practices for all staff in teaching, research, and administration. This should also have a positive impact on teaching and studies and thus also on our students.

With “tubstart2020” we want to quickly and effectively act on several levels to overcome the crisis, implement proven tools and methods developed during the pandemic, and introduce modern, new, and legally compliant work practices. I am ready to invest 3.5 million euros in the coming years to achieve this.

In order to implement this program across the University, preconditions must be established, including legal frameworks, data protection regulations, technical requirements, and agreements with the staff councils on working models. Regardless of these conditions, we face the overriding task of introducing a cultural change which offers new possibilities to TU Berlin and new perspectives for each and every one of us.

Additionally, we would like to define compensatory measures to deal with backlogs that have arisen during essential-only operations.

TU Berlin intends to take up these challenges and develop a concerted plan of action before the end of 2020, thereby initiating a further major strategic development step.

I would like to take a closer look at what exactly this means for our individual fields of action:

 

Academics and teaching

The value and importance of in-presence teaching has not changed and TU Berlin will remain a university with strong in-presence offers. During the pandemic, which is still ongoing, we have been forced to offer alternatives in the form of digital teaching. We have succeeded in doing this. But, what are our plans for after the pandemic?

We are currently observing very different needs from all of the disciplines. Some require in-presence courses to guarantee learning success while others offer digital lectures that can be flexibly accessed and used and which no longer require 1,000+ students flooding the Audimax at eight in the morning. Both sides present convincing arguments.

I believe our university has an obligation to offer lecturers and students a great deal of flexibility in how they teach and learn. We must offer excellent framework conditions for both in-presence courses AND digital teaching. Ultimately, our lecturers and students will decide which methods they prefer and will be able to freely choose. We want this to be a long-term option, not a short-term solution during the pandemic. I believe this represents real progress. I do not view in-presence and digital teaching as competing formats but rather as methods which complement each other. This will be the mark of a modern university and is our aim and the new path we are embarking on. 

 

Administration

We must differentiate between administrative processes and administrative tasks. For the latter, we would like to offer the option of flexible working. This requires nothing less than a paradigm shift. My wish is that we move away from the mere completion of a set number of working hours in an office. We must shift our thinking and management to a results-oriented way of working. We should no longer ask how long someone worked but instead: What did you achieve?

Of course many will balk at this and wonder: How will this all work? One may say,  “It’s not possible.” The other, “That’s exactly what I want.”

My hope is that together with you and the staff councils we can develop models that offer a mix of working from home, mobile working, and office work. I myself suggested that we consider a model with three days at the office and two at home. Our staff in the administration should also have the option of asynchronous work. Why must I complete ten things between 9:00 and 17:23 and spend an extra hour each way commuting? Why can’t I complete defined tasks from home at and in the time that works for me? Mobile working and office work should be valued equally. There will be tasks that cannot be completed from home. There will be times when the whole team meets at the office. These changes also require a new management culture. My aim is a high degree of flexibility coupled with mutual trust and obligations.

 

Let’s turn our attention to research This area does not require a paradigm shift. The “business” of research is based on creativity, innovation, and collaboration. We cannot be creative on demand at 8:30 on the dot. Our researchers know this. They have been a model of flexibility for many years and we can learn from them. We have the advantage of being surrounded by them; they are in our DNA. We need to take advantage of this.

In order to further develop the scientific support areas, including the central and faculty administrations, we must further digitize key processes. After a long and difficult time, we are now reaping the benefits of our SAP project, for instance during student enrollment at the beginning of the summer semester, and in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. This is something we can be proud of and build on, particularly as regards personnel and finance processes in the mid-term. Parallel to this, new digital tools for collaboration must be developed in the departments, teams, labs, faculties, and academic chairs. We must arrange for this.

You can find an overview of the catalogue of measures below.

The flexibility offered by digitalization in key areas and the development of new working models will make our university much more attractive. This will benefit climate protection and sustainability, both of which are as important to us as the process described.

It is worth re-thinking and giving it a go! I invite you to join in in shaping this process together with the Executive Board.

I will continue to regularly inform you about further developments during this crucial phase.

 

And finally, a personal matter

I would like to make one final point: Like many of you, I am looking forward to going on holiday beginning next Monday. During this time, I will (unfortunately) not be sending any weekly bulletins. You will hear from me again at the end of July.

I wish you all a successful remainder of this memorable and extraordinary summer semester.

Thank you very much for your involvement and dedication! All of you who together make up TU Berlin have accomplished something significant and admirable.

Stay healthy, enjoy the summer, and rest up!

Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

 

Catalogue of measures for “tubstart2020”

What does this mean exactly? What measures have we planned for “tubstart2020”?

We want to invest 3.5 million euros in two sets of measures in the next two years. 

 

Package 1

We must clear the backlog of work that has accrued during essential-only and restricted in-presence operations. This places a strain on all involved and requires us to act quickly. We are ready with both personnel and funds. The first thing we want to do is implement early hiring. Further measures will be discussed with the heads of department.

We would like to make it possible to extend scholarships and critical third-party funding contracts, e.g. for up to three months.

We aim to expand lab spaces and practical labs to reduce the backlog in these teaching formats. These will be workaround measures that are to be quickly implemented.

These measures should help us, at least partially, compensate for the backlog and difficulties that resulted in teaching, research, and administration during the lockdown and digital semester.

 

Package 2

The other measures are intended to benefit TU Berlin’s strategic and structural position as described above:

The legal guidelines for flexible working are unclear. We are currently drafting an agreement for mobile working with the Staff Council with the aim of presenting an official TU Berlin-Staff Council agreement for mobile working.

We had to take the ad hoc decision to send our employees home to work. In the future, this will not be possible without financial assistance. We require equipment for regular use when working from home, including a laptop, internet connection, and office chair. We will be drawing up a budget for how we can provide financial support.

Additional video conference rooms at TU Berlin will be needed, as we wish to reduce the significant amount of official travel to conferences, fairs, and workshops for the benefit of climate protection. Our aim is to offer an attractive infrastructure for video conferencing at TU Berlin to promote a healthy mix of in-presence and video meetings. We will invest the necessary funds to achieve this.

We want to offer more licenses for VPN tunnels and conference tools.

We are striving for the long-term establishment of digital teaching. Here, too, we will invest in suitable and data-compliant tools.

Our objective is to digitize personnel processes, which will include e-recruiting and the digitization of personnel records (in SAP).

We want to accelerate the introduction of e-invoices (in SAP).

We also aim for and are pursuing the digitalization of the structural and technical infrastructure (networks for electricity, heating, cooling, water and sewage etc.)

We see the urgent need for a unified IT structure as well as a lasting, expanded option of working from home (VPN tunnel, software access in computer labs, introduction of software for collaborative work, etc).

At the same time, we are striving for further training for our employees in line with these processes.

Weekly Bulletin, no. 10

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin No. 10
Friday, 19.06.2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear TU Members,

I would like to turn my attention once again today to the topic of in-presence classes and digital teaching platforms. The question we are all asking ourselves is: What do we think about the use of these two formats for winter semester 2020/2021? While none of us wants to see another purely digital semester, we are all fully aware that the pandemic will continue to influence our plans. This has been amply demonstrated by the current localized cases of very high new infection numbers in Berlin, Göttingen, NRW and elsewhere.

In light of this, my clear request to all teaching staff is: Prepare your courses in digital format. This will provide us with the flexibility we need to be able to conduct classes in the event of a possible second or even third wave of the coronavirus, while protecting the health of all concerned.

Nevertheless, we should also offer in-presence teaching in the winter semester wherever possible. This applies to examinations, practical teaching formats or even smaller seminars, all conducted needless to say under the specified hygiene regulations. We in the Crisis Committee are also developing plans for a step-by-step return to normal operations for the University’s administration, taking account of the pandemic.

We have a special duty to enable our first-semester students to access the University and participate in their studies. This can be done using digital formats, but it would be better and more productive as well as more personal if this could happen on campus. This is particularly true for our new students coming from abroad to study. One thing, however, is clear: A central orientation program for more than 3,000 first-semester students, for many years a tradition at TU Berlin and other universities, will, regrettably, not be possible.

We want to send our current and future students a clear signal that they should come to Berlin to study. If, however, the coronavirus restrictions prevent this, then they have the option to pursue their studies digitally. This is another reason to prepare and conduct classes in digital format.

Finally today, please remember to wear a face mask when on campus and in TU Berlin’s buildings. This is important. It protects both you and others. Thank you for doing so!

I wish you all a restful and pleasant weekend. Stay healthy!

Please keep sending me your feedback to: feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de

Sincerely,

Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

Weekly Bulletin, no. 9

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin No. 9
Friday, 12.06.2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear TU Members,

I have been thinking for some time about how the conoravirus pandemic affects the different genders. There are many aspects to consider here. One that particularly interests me is the impact that working, schooling, and caring for dependents at home has on the professional activities and careers of women and men.

In an article published this week in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), I addressed this issue while reflecting on the digitalization of our world, particularly digital teaching at universities.

Just a quick reminder at this point of something else important to me: Please do not forget to wear a face mask when on campus. This is more than just a formality. By complying with this regulation, we help protect the health of our colleagues at TU Berlin. Thank you!

I wish you all a restful and pleasant weekend. Stay healthy!

Please keep sending me your feedback: feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de

Sincerely,
Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

The Publication Gap Affecting Women (published in slightly abridged form in the FAZ on 10.6.2020)

Universities have learned a great deal since the start of the coronavirus crisis. Such as how quickly we are able to respond to an emergency when we simply have no other choice. Within just a few short weeks, Germany’s higher education institutions succeeded in digitalizing their entire teaching operations. A policy of essential-only presence was implemented and staff transitioned to working at home. Despite all the regional differences, university staff throughout Germany have worked tirelessly to overcome the organizational challenges involved to allow us to make a significant contribution to containing the virus. If we consider Berlin alone, 200,000 students traveling by public transport every day to attend lectures would represent a considerable risk. Thankfully, thus far there is no evidence that any university has been a hotspot for the spread of the coronavirus

But this speedy transfer of operations has come at a price: Digitalization had evolved and was present to differing degrees in the various aspects of our pre-coronavirus lives. Much has been written about the funding packages for schools, but it feels as if little has really been done. Even the question of which communication platforms teaching staff could use to communicate with school or university students remained unresolved for a long time. At universities, we have mainly found out about digital teaching via pilot projects In Berlin at least, there is as yet no sign of digitalization in the administrative sector. Not surprisingly, the switchover has been difficult. Working and schooling from home were until recently largely unknown concepts and the necessary technical measures had not been standardized within the public administration of educational institutions. That the situation could function at all was due to staff using their own laptops and computers and paying for Internet connection. Students living in a small room in a flat share might not even have Internet access to allow them to take part in the digital courses offered. Almost no free Wi-Fi is available to them and certainly at nothing like the level required. We had slipped into a situation where we were only able to partially make things work by improvising and relying on chance.

Things could have been organized so much better. I would like to quote a few facts about Estonia, a country often held up as an example due to its high level of digitalization but rarely emulated: Everybody has Internet access with almost the entire country covered by a free Wi-Fi network and anybody who does not have their own computer can use one of the many public terminals. All educational institutions, moreover, are online. It may well be that it is easier to implement such measures in a country with a population of just 1.3 million than in a country where a population sixty times this figure presents a much more complex situation. But even without achieving this level, better connectivity would have enabled a number of things in Germany to have run more smoothly and with less disruption during the coronavirus crisis. Teachers and students would have already been used to digital formats and the various didactic methods would already have been tested and evaluated with the most successful established as best practice. And all the options for digital examinations would have been thoroughly tried out and didactically sound solutions found. This would have been fairer and we could have avoided people being effectively forced to transition overnight to digital procedures in all areas of life. It could also have helped avoid the stress experienced by many staff suddenly faced with the challenges of homeschooling, looking after children and perhaps caring for close dependents without the support of family members and friends.

It comes as no surprise then that mothers of young children have been most affected by the sudden transition to digitalization. They were forced to make quick decisions about how to make courses accessible to students while also trying to maintain contact to their students and create possibilities for them to communicate with each other. Studying is after all an essentially social activity and functions best with students working together. Mothers of young children have had to spend their mornings educating their children, in other words helping them puzzle through teachers’ explanations, which despite their best efforts sometimes still seem impenetrable. Not surprisingly, the work of young female researchers in particular has come to a standstill during the coronavirus crisis, a fact borne out by the drastic fall-off in publications submitted by women during a period when those submitted by their male counterparts have actually increased. This at least is what an examination of articles submitted on preprint servers in the area of astrophysics shows. This corona publication gap exacerbates the existing gender publication gap, recently demonstrated in a study conducted by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The recommendations provided by scholarly and, in comparison to the general working population, aging “expert groups” are outdated. Think of the ad hoc response quickly cobbled together over Easter by the Leopoldina, which stated that “daycare centers should continue to operate essential-only services until the summer holidays.” With an average age of 64 and with only two women among its 26 members, it is little wonder that the recommendations of this working group, despite all its academic eminence, completely failed to grasp the reality of younger people.

In addition to providing a tablet for every schoolchild and every enrolling student, ubiquitous and free Wi-Fi access as well as data-protection compliant handling of our data are essential for Germany and Europe if we are to achieve a new working reality where people can work properly from home and thus take advantage of mobile working. Even without the coronavirus, young men and women should, if they so wish, be able to integrate caring for children and dependents into their working lives. We should make it possible for them to achieve this work-life balance. This aspect alone represents a substantial challenge in developing digitalization for the benefit of society.

A "digitalization of teaching" program as part of an economic stimulus package is the right response. This would need to be extended by creating digital working processes in university administration to enable all staff and not just those researching, teaching or studying at university to enjoy the benefits of digitalization. Our administrative processes function well using hard copies of documents and with people working in presence. But we need to think beyond this. Public service needs to become dynamic and flexible. Universities are the right places for such changes and a proper response to the realities of life. It is now up to all of us, politicians, the workforce and staff representatives to demonstrate the courage to implement in the long term what has been shown to work during the crisis.

Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen, president of TU Berlin

Weekly Bulletin, no. 8

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin No. 8
Friday, 05.06.2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear TU Members,

In today’s bulletin, I would particularly like to address those of you involved in teaching at TU Berlin. It is difficult to plan effectively for the future during a pandemic. Nevertheless, we need to turn our attention now to winter semester 2020/2021. The coming winter semester will also represent a new set of challenges. We are not yet able to say exactly how it will operate, whether there will be a second or even third wave of the coronavirus or how our international partners and students will respond to and be affected by developments.

My message to you on behalf of the Executive Board is: Please prepare to also teach the coming winter semester in digital format. We all hope that it will become increasingly possible to introduce more in-presence classes. However, as long as no effective vaccination is available, these will remain the exception. Our main goals are

  1. to provide a full teaching program for our students  
  2. to enable those students who wish to study at TU Berlin but who are unable to travel due to current restrictions (travel ban, visa etc.) to participate in courses
  3. to offer quality digital classes in the coming winter semester, including asynchronous offers to help our lecturers and students manage their time effectively.

We can use digital offers to achieve all three of these goals.

Notwithstanding, we are also striving

  1. to continue to create effective communication options, particularly for our many new students
  2. to offer quality in-presence teaching formats and examinations conducted under strict compliance with the University’s hygiene and protective measures.     

This is intended as an internal appeal to all our teaching staff.

The Rectors’ and Presidents’ Conference in Berlin, which I currently chair, is discussing measures to send a clear signal to our students. It is important that this is communicated to the 190,000 or so students in Berlin who need certainty to help them plan. We are aiming to develop an official policy which takes account of the different situations at the various types of higher education institutions and which provides us the flexibility to respond to a possible spread of the virus.

Our approach is to offer another full digital semester, supplemented where possible and necessary with in-presence options.

This provides us with the flexibility we need to be able to react to the development of the pandemic.

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts: feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de

I wish you all a restful and pleasant weekend. Stay healthy!

Sincerely,

Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

Weekly Bulletin, no. 7

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin No. 7
Friday, 29.05.2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear TU Members,

I have been giving much thought to all your suggestions regarding what we can learn from the crisis and how we want to organize our working lives in the future. I have learned much about your individual situations and this also has a bearing on my thoughts concerning the future.

I would like to share some excerpts from the emails I received with you. The quoted excerpts have been de-identified and all requests for confidentiality respected.

On Monday, I attended the scientific committee of the Berlin house of representatives to answer politicians’ questions. One of the questions raised was: How are we coping with the digital semester and what lessons can we learn from this experience? You can read about it in this report in the Tagesspiegel.

Anyone interested in more reading material and videos has probably noticed this already: Our new website went live on 27 May 2020. A video providing more information about the website is available.

I would also like to draw your attention to an interesting recent broadcast (in German) on Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb24) about COVID-19 research conducted at TU Berlin.

  • Wettlauf um Wirkstoffe Berliner Lungenmodell könnte Coronaforschung beschleunigen. A report on how the Berlin pulmonary model could expedite research into the coronavirus with Professor Jens Kurrek.

I wish you all a restful and enjoyable Pentecost!

Best wishes,

Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

Email address for your continued feedback: feedback@uni.tu-berlin.de

Excerpts from feedback to the weekly bulletins

“…For me at least, the switchover to exclusively online teaching went more smoothly than I had anticipated and I hope that sensible online solutions for registering for examinations at Technische Universität Berlin will be found in the future, regardless of the coronavirus…”

Research associate, Faculty VI, 25.05.2020

“… A very positive development for me is that working from home is no longer seen in a negative light and I hope that will continue to be the case. For me, working from home represents an opportunity to achieve a better and more efficient work-family life balance. The switchover to telephone and video conferencing gives me the chance to take part in many more committee meetings. In the future, I would like it to be possible to take part in all committee meetings via video/telephone.”

Head of academic chair, Faculty V, 25.05.2020

“Working and dealing with emails during the pandemic is, of course, different than before and at times feels like undiscovered territory. But we are rising to the challenge by finding creative solutions. I am absolutely in favor of working from home once the crisis has passed and we have returned to “normality”.

Staff member, Central University Administration, Department IV, 25.05.2020

“In my team we are very happy that every single person is seen and that those who for various reasons are currently able to do less still remain very much part of the team. I think things are working very well for us.”

and “You very often respond to the needs of those who are unable to work or only do less due to the challenges of looking after children, homeschooling, technical problems, etc. This is absolutely as it should be. But what about those who are doing so much to keep things going within TU Berlin? Those working many more hours than they normally would (more than they are actually permitted to)?”

Team leader, Department I, 25.05.2020

“At other institutions in Berlin such as the HTW, working from home is already standard practice. This prompted me to apply for a position there. I changed my mind though and decided to stay at TU Berlin because everything else has to be just right too.”

Secretary, Faculty II, 25.05.2020

“Funding for digital meetings instead of official trips: I would like to see the reduction of official trips by air travel become a permanent item on the agenda at TU Berlin. This would represent a real contribution to climate protection.”

Research associate, Faculty VII, 25.05.2020

“In our team we hold a video conference lasting 15 to 60 minutes every morning. This works really well. We now have the chance to speak to our boss every day. Under normal circumstances it is not always possible to get hold of him.

Research associate, Faculty VI, 25.05.2020

“My overall view of the situation is: Under the circumstances, working from home and digitalization was the only possible and reasonable solution. […] In the long term, however, I personally would like digitalization to play a much lesser role in my teaching and my communication with my staff and colleagues.”

Head of academic chair, Faculty II, 23.05.2020

“The first three to four weeks were very hard for us all. But in the meantime, many things have settled down and improved and most of us are coping well with working from home. A lively exchange of ideas between all of us helped provide unusually quick solutions to many problems.”

Secretary, Faculty VI, 22.05.2020

“We have established good communication within our team. It has been interesting to see that, from my perspective, web conferences are more effective than meetings held in offices. We need to concentrate more in this format and this has had a surprisingly beneficial effect on our cooperation and sense of togetherness.

Member of staff, Department II, 20.05.2020

“Individual solutions should be possible on the basis of where people are and other circumstances, such as their family situations, digital options for working and the need to be in the office in person. Ultimately getting things done is what counts and not where and what hours someone works.”

Member of staff, staff unit of the president, 22.05.2020

“Given the positive experiences of working from home, I would like to see more staff given the opportunity to do so a few days a week. I cannot really see that working for me though as my position involves individual advising. It would be helpful nevertheless if I could work from home to complete an extensive report without the feeling that doing so is at best tolerated.”

Member of staff, Examination Board, 22.05.2020

“For me, the digitalization of administrative processes is an even more positive development than working from home. In some cases, procedures take up to 60-70% less time to complete. Staff working in administration are always extremely helpful and interested in finding a practical solution. Processes need to be digitally mapped in SAP as sending scans around is not a long-term solution. But in principle I feel we are moving in the right direction and it would contribute to a significantly better working atmosphere if our administration is not always having to work at their limit and beyond as has been the case over the last two years.

Research associate, Faculty V, 22.05.2020

“It makes me feel good when I am trusted to organize my work independently, taking account of the needs of my clients and my team. I prefer this way of working to having my attendance times monitored. I find it inspiring.”

Anonymous, 22.05.2020

“I think it is fundamentally wrong that those of us on pay grade E 6 are expected to use our own computers for work purposes. The technical equipment should have been provided by TU Berlin.

Member of staff, Faculty I, 22.05.2020

“Being able to work in peace away from the office was a real blessing for working on my doctorate or writing academic articles […] There should also be much more streaming of classes such as lecture series. As part of this process, consideration should also be given to whether precisely this digitalization of content should not be made more accessible and promoted to a non-academic public to intensify dialogue with all potentially interested parties.

Research associate, Faculty V, 22.05.2020

“In the past, everyone sat in their office and if you needed to discuss something you had to go to your colleague’s office and even then it wasn’t really possible to work together. Now we have a common chat area and video conferencing and it is possible to work much more efficiently than before...”

Member of staff, Central University Administration, 22.05.2020

Weekly Bulletin, no. 6

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin

Friday, 22 May 2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear TU Members,

The digital semester 2020 started one month ago and we transferred on 18 May 2020 - more or less one week ago - to restricted in-presence operations. I would like to address these topics.

Due to the shortened working week, my weekly bulletin is a little briefer than usual. First of all, a few numbers to illustrate what we have achieved in the first month of the digital semester.

Our lecturers have uploaded 7,816 videos (1,439 GB) for 759 different courses. The combined running time of the videos is 3,696 hours.

Since the start of the lecture period, the videos have been accessed 802,846 times (approximately 125 TB of traffic).

18,000 users visit the ISIS central e-learning system each day. That amounts to 25,000 different users in a week.

The number of contributions to discussion forums shows how communication has shifted to digital formats: Since the start of the semester, there have already been 39,943 contributions compared with 29,725 for the entire summer semester 2019.

These are the figures for Zoom:

20.04 until 27.04.2020:
Meetings: 4,907, meeting minutes*: 3,224,807, participants: 91,582

27.04 until 04.05.2020:
Meetings: 5,958, meeting minutes: 3,964,562, participants: 64,937

04.05 until 11.05.2020:
Meetings: 7,808, meeting minutes: 5,025,788, participants: 76,637

11.05 until 18.05.2020:
Meetings: 9,560, meeting minutes: 5,892,084, participants: 86,918

18:05 until 20.05.2020 (14:30)
Meetings: 3,808, meeting minutes: 2,369,682, participants: 34,961

* Meeting minutes refers to the total number of minutes of all participants in meetings.

I would like to thank you for this remarkable achievement!

This data alone does not of course show how effective and successful our teaching has been in the digital semester. I will be informing you about the results of the analyses and surveys we will be conducting throughout the semester as well as the feedback we receive regarding the success of the digital semester.

The first week of restricted in-presence operations has shown that everyone is implementing our regulations responsibly. This is very important and sends a clear signal to the outside world where many people follow and are guided by the steps we take.

As far as work goes, I have received many requests to define the expectations we have regarding the work to be achieved at this time. Many of you are wondering: Are we expected to process all personnel matters, orders and invoices, and so forth.

This is not easy to answer. We find ourselves in an intermediate state defined by many different factors. Who can work to 100 percent capacity and who cannot? Who needs to look after their children at home? Who is unable to work due to illness and who belongs to an at-risk group? How do in-presence operations function in the departments and offices of the academic chairs? It is not possible to provide a general answer. Academic support staff, whether in the Central University Administration, the offices of an academic chair, a faculty service center, the Staff Council or the Hygiene Storage Facility, are all doing their best to adapt to the new circumstances. They are organizing their work between home and the office and working their way through processes which had to be put on hold during the period of essential-only presence. I fully understand that it is not easy to reconcile all of this.   To help reduce your uncertainty, we will be providing detailed information in the coming week about what can be expected. It is important for all of us to provide clarity.

I would like, though, to reiterate my message: I am aware that not all of us are able to work at 100 percent capacity. We do not expect this of either staff or management. We have to work together in these times and this requires mutual understanding and tolerance for what others are able to do and for individual circumstances. My main concern is that we all remain healthy and that TU Berlin emerges stronger from this crisis. I would therefore ask all of us to be mindful in our dealings with each other. This is vital.

I wish you all an enjoyable and restful day off work. Stay healthy and in good spirits!

Best wishes,

Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

PS:

I would like to thank you for the many emails I have received in response to my last weekly bulletin. The insight these give me into your work and your ideas regarding my suggestions for working three days in the office and two at home are interesting and useful. I shall certainly take account of these in my considerations about how we can change our working lives. Please continue to send me your thoughts and ideas about how TU can develop to:

feedback(at)uni.tu-berlin.de

I look forward to reading them.

 

Weekly Bulletin, no. 5

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin

Friday, 15. May 2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear TU Members,

Another important step for our University is upon us: On 17 May 2020 we will end essential-only presence and on 18 May 2020 transition to restricted presence, without in-presence teaching. Many of you have been waiting for this step. We have spent a long time, two months in fact, in an exceptional situation during which we not only prepared and commenced a digital semester but also shifted nearly the entire University to working from home.

Beginning 18 May 2020, staff will be permitted to resume working on campus while teaching remains digital. The details of this new phase are explained in the bulletin of 14 May 2020 (www.tu-berlin.de/?214509).

With these new regulations, two matters remain of utmost importance to me:

  1. In this phase, we would like - and this is a direct request from me – to enable and encourage all TU staff in research and administration to continue to work from home as far as possible. The eased restrictions do not mean that all employees should gather in front of the University’s doors on Monday. This would be the wrong signal to send, indeed a fatal one. This brings me to my second request:
  2. I ask all management to responsibly respond to these eased regulations regarding restricted presence for the benefit of all. You will create action plans for your team or academic chair, record these internally, and implement them together with your employees. This is required to once again enter TU premises. We have deliberately not introduced any review and approval processes and instead are relying on you to take responsibility for your employees. We reserve the right to conduct random checks, however, to ensure you have implemented the required action plans. I ask you all for your active cooperation. It is only by fulfilling these conditions, that we will successfully make this important transition from essential-only presence to restricted presence at TU Berlin.

This does not yet represent a return to our familiar daily routine prior to the coronavirus. The conditions of the third phase do not permit us to fully return to our work. Please consider this in your expectations of the different areas of the University. There remains the danger of a second wave of infection in Berlin and Germany. Working with all of you, we are seeking to prevent this with our catalogue of measures in the bulletin of 14 May 2020. Please adhere to these regulations as none of us wishes to return to essential-only presence.

Nor could we afford such a step backwards with the mountain of tasks and questions which remains to tackle and resolve and which is only growing by the day. How will we organize the winter semester, offer canceled examinations, or schedule application periods and deadlines? How will we address the wishes and needs of international students who want to study here in the winter semester? How will we make up the work that had to be suspended in research and administration? These are just a few of many questions and I am sure you have many more related to your own work for which we need to find answers in the coming weeks. We are all working hard on this.

When we look into the distant future, into a phase of more normalcy, we may not want a complete return to the previous status quo as we are now learning that we have quickly grown to prefer some of the new routines and ways of working. Some lecturers have asked whether they can also offer their courses in the winter semester primarily online. Many would like to continue the increased digital exchange within and with the administration. Phone and video conferences save us time and travel. Many welcome this, even if social contact has suffered as a result. Of course, we all would like to have face-to-face meetings back. However, I am also hearing the wish to mix in-presence work with digital work and exchange, whether in administration, research or teaching.

It is too early yet to draw up concrete plans and draw conclusions. But, what do you think about working at the office 3 days a week and from home the remaining 2? Can you imagine such an arrangement? Can you picture your team meeting once a week while working independently and digitally for the remainder of the week? Do we need to maintain fixed working hours? Or is our output more important? How can we organize this at a public university? What does good digital teaching look like that meets the needs of lecturers and students? How can we maintain a collective feeling among staff and students – on a small and large scale?

I would like to make positive use of the crisis. TU Berlin should emerge stronger and more attractive than before. Let us start now to devise and model our working world of the future together! The door is open. The cause, the corona pandemic, was and remains deeply unfortunate. Until now we did not have the courage, power of imagination, or pressure to take the initiative to plan and consequently implement the steps we have all taken in the past two months.

When, if not now, should we have the courage to re-think together as a community of this wonderful university? I can sense the courage in myself and I encourage you to do the same!

Share your thoughts and ideas with me. What positive and negative experiences have you had thus far during this “coronavirus period”? How do you picture your future workplace? What would make TU Berlin a good employer to you in this regard? Upon request, I will treat your messages confidentially.

Please send them to: feedback@uni.tu-berlin.de 

Many thanks and stay healthy!

Best wishes,

Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Something else to read and listen to:

Video statement on the transition to restricted presence: www.tu-berlin.de/?214510

Interview with RBB cultural radio about the digital semester: https://www.rbb-online.de/rbbkultur/radio/programm/schema/sendungen/rbbkultur_am_vormittag/archiv/20200512_0905/wissen_0910.html

TU insert in the Tagesspiegel newspaper: www.tu-berlin.de/?214309

Weekly Bulletin, no. 4

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin

Friday, 24. April 2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Members of TU Berlin,

We now find ourselves in the fifth week of working from home, of essential-only presence, of an extraordinary situation. A situation we are still adjusting to! Yes, we have gotten used to some things but we are still to get used to others. Certain aspects are working well, others less so. Switching between WebEx and Zoom, the telephone and the laptop, the kitchen and the living room and working from home while educating our children is a taxing experience and one to test our nerves. We have accomplished the feat of getting the digital semester started but at some cost. I have sensed in the many discussions I have had by telephone and video chat that a sense of tiredness has set in after the “Yes, I can!” of the initial euphoria. Stress levels are increasing as is the feeling of being overtaxed, we are losing patience more quickly and we have forgotten about the time saved by not commuting to the University. Some of us will be experiencing raw nerves, while others choose to ignore the problems. That does not represent the entire picture, but we are increasingly feeling the pressure of the situation in our society.

I have a strong and powerful sense of my responsibility, our responsibility, towards our staff.

Faster, higher, farther - the motto of our pre-coronavirus society has ceased to apply. Other values have now taken center stage.

Among these is the willingness to help. People are purchasing vouchers from their favorite restaurant to use when the corona pandemic ends, doing the shopping for a neighbor, singing happy birthday from the balcony to offer their best wishes in times of “social” distancing. Before Easter, I wrote to all TU Berlin professors inviting them to contribute to a funding campaign to help our students. They, too, are being affected by events, through the loss of jobs, for example. But they are also developing new initiatives to combat the spread of the virus. I think this is remarkable. Within just a few days, the campaign has raised 25,000 euros. With the federal government matching each euro donated, this means we already have 50,000 euros to channel into Deutschlandstipendium scholarships. We will be making these scholarships available to our students in the fall. Anyone wishing to donate may do so. We accept donations of between 10 euros and 1800 euros or even more. 1800 euros represents an entire scholarship. You can transfer your donation to the account of the Society of Friends of TU Berlin. I would be grateful for any contributions received. Make a difference and help support our students! www.tu-berlin.de/?213918

Consideration for others is another value we are rediscovering. This is something we should nurture in our University and in our dealings with each other. I say this as an individual and most importantly in my capacity as president and I call upon all management at TU Berlin to make themselves aware of the situations of their staff and take proper action to help. It is clear to everybody that single parents cannot work their full hours at the moment, we understand that a mother or father cannot always be there when juggling working from home with educating their children or if another member of staff finds themselves overtaxed by having to provide additional care for a dependent. We as the Executive Board wish to be able to find the right response to everyone´s situation, to have a realistic understanding of people´s requirements, to not pressurize them to produce results, to communicate with staff and provide flexibility when appropriate and required.

This is my understanding of consideration and I would ask all management to show such consideration to their staff. I am also aware that management are having to deal with the pressure of a new situation and that leading a team while working from home is not easy. None of us had the opportunity to test this out in advance. So I would also ask for understanding for management. The situation is new for all of us. Only by treating each other with consideration will we emerge successfully and in good health from the crisis. We have to conserve our resources. This is something I would urge all of you to do.

For me, the concept of consideration also has another important dimension. We shall be continuing with our policy of essential-only presence, but will also be cautiously introducing exceptions. We wrote to inform you of this in detail in the bulletin of 23 April. We will need to call on the support of many members of staff to introduce these exceptions in a responsible and effective way. All staff in leading positions granted an exception for their teaching or research need to show consideration towards others. The main priority in anything we do has to be the protection of our health. So please ensure that you observe the hygiene regulations! Please also be aware that we still do not have answers for some questions and that we are yet to find solutions for certain problems. We are working hard to do so.

Mutual respect is what is strengthening our bond as a community at TU Berlin at the moment. Let us continue to look forward together.

If you have any suggestions or tips, then you can write to me at 

Stay healthy!

Best wishes,
Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin

Weekly Bulletin, no. 3

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin

Friday, 10. April 2020

Dear TU Members,

Easter is approaching and we find ourselves in the third week of essential-only presence. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a relaxing and enjoyable holiday period. I hope that you and your families continue to be in good health and that you find a chance to rest in the company of your loved ones, even if you cannot go to the beach or your favorite holiday destination.

I have witnessed a great willingness to help at TU Berlin in recent days. On 9 April, we were able to provide the social welfare organization Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband Berlin with a great deal of protective material as a result of a major donation campaign. The organization will distribute 77,500 pairs of disposable gloves and numerous protective masks to its member welfare facilities and organizations, which provide care primarily for the homeless and people with addiction illnesses.

Elsewhere, protective masks are being manufactured at TU Berlin, procedures for testing masks developed, apps programmed and members of the University are helping labs in Berlin with the many tests being conducted.

Only today, I invited all professors to sponsor a Deutschlandstipendium scholarship. The goal is to provide financial support for our many students who continue to work for the benefit of society throughout this time of crisis.

The Easter holiday period will not be the same as before for any of us. Many of you are preparing your online courses while others are working hard to keep the administration running smoothly. We are all seeking solutions, looking for ways to continue to work well together and adjust to the new situation we find ourselves in.

I would like to thank you all for your many efforts and your essential contribution to our work.

I very much hope you will have the opportunity to relax a little. Stay home and keep healthy.

Sincerely,
Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen
President of TU Berlin

Weekly Bulletin, no. 2

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin

Thursday, 02. April 2020

Dear Colleagues,
Dear TU Members,

We have now completed two weeks of working from home. It has not been easy, as I am sure we have all discovered. Although it has to be said that some things can be done more effectively too. Transferring all our work into our private sphere to such an extent has brought about changes in us all. There are times when we long to be at our workplace at the University and yet at others it seems so far away and almost unfamiliar. If I were a sociologist, I might well regard our situation as an interesting area for research.

For the time being our University does not have its fixed points of anchor at Ernst Reuter Platz in Charlottenburg, in Wedding, Schöneberg, or El Gouna in Egypt. We are digitally networked – some 8000 members of staff, remember – across Berlin and Germany as well as in other countries around the world, sitting in studies, the kitchens of flat shares or on balconies (anyone fortunate to have one is discovering what a luxury this is). We are all confronted with the same questions: How can we continue to work well together and how can we best maintain contact to the University?

In today´s bulletin, I would like to present two new ideas we have come up with:

  • #TUgetherAtHome – available online and in social media
  • Special essential-only presence edition of TU intern published in e-paper format

#TUgetherAtHome allows you to visit a virtual TU Berlin campus from your own living space. We interview scientists about their research topics, offer join-in sports programs, invite you to take up challenges, provide you with the latest information from the Crisis Committee and present options for online teaching. Check everything out on our website. Those of you with your own social media accounts can check out #TUgetherAtHome or follow TU Berlin on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Youtube.

Why not take a look and join in! TU Berlin has plenty to offer: www.tu-berlin.de/?212824

I am sure the University newspaper TU intern requires no introduction. This time we are sending you a special digital edition, put together 100 percent from home - a first in the 35-year history of the newspaper. We describe how we put essential-only presence into action, the role played by our central administration departments, how our faculties and researchers prepared for this and how they are dealing with the current situation. We provide a detailed and fascinating insight into how our university has adapted to the changes. Well worth reading: http://archiv.pressestelle.tu-berlin.de/tui/20apr/

Both measures will help you overcome your homesickness for TU Berlin. Stay strong!

Please write to me with your feedback, suggestions, and tips at 

I wish you all the best for the coming week. Take care of yourselves and those around you and remain healthy!

Sincerely,

Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen,
President of TU Berlin

Weekly Bulletin, no. 1

Weekly Bulletin from the President of TU Berlin

Friday, 27. March 2020

Dear Members of TU Berlin,

I am writing to you today what will be the first of a series of weekly bulletin. I want to use these as a way of keeping in contact with you. This is very important for me during this period where people are working from home, faced with the prospect of quarantine and lockdown.

One week ago, all universities in Berlin implemented essential-only presence operations. Although I established a crisis committee for our University as early as 2 February 2020, we are now being confronted with challenges which we had never even considered before. We are entering undiscovered territory. In a very short period of time we have solved a great many problems. We are all pulling in the same direction and standing shoulder-to-shoulder. This is what makes us such a great university.

As such, my first major point is addressed to all of you: I have been highly impressed by your commitment and all you have achieved in these difficult times. To introduce essential-only presence operations from one day to the next requires great ability, understanding for one another and perseverance. These are qualities we have in plenty! As president of this wonderful university, I would like to express my gratitude to you all for what you have achieved.

I know what it means to work from home without being able to go to your normal place of work. The children have to be given their schooling at home, which is pretty much a non-stop process. Your partner is working in the next room, the smartphone is ringing, the connection breaks down, your inbox is filling up, the next telephone conference is due and the children start calling out right in the middle of the interview with the radio journalist. Exactly how our days look varies from person to person, but they represent a challenge for us all. And the whole time the real and great tragedy is unfolding all around us and all over the world.

As such, my second major point affects us all: Please keep going, keep to the regulations introduced by the state and federal governments. This is the only way that we as individuals and a community can stand up to the spread of the virus. This is important! This is the need of the hour. It is also important that we show solidarity in our dealings with one another. That we help. That we take care of our family, neighbors, and colleagues. Whether it is with shopping or a call or an email to see how everyone is doing. TU Berlin also has some suggestions here. A particularly nice example was brought to my attention from one of our lecturers who wanted to know if it was possible for him to donate some of his salary to students who currently find themselves without work. We are looking into how we could do this. As a university we have agreed 10 working days leave on full pay for parents with children in childcare facilities or at school. A further initiative being pursued at TU Berlin is to bring together 3D printing businesses and projects to produce components for protective masks or other useful objects. TU students have developed an idea to provide help in agriculture. At least two academic chairs have made staff available to help with carrying out diagnoses and coronavirus tests.

The third main point I wish to address is essential-only presence operations: Organizing this is one thing, but it quite another to actually implement it in practice. We all need to work together to achieve this. I cannot stress how important this is and how much I appreciate all your efforts. At the moment our university is an institution of some 8,000 staff working from home, an intelligent distributed network if you like. This is something new for us all - for management, for staff, and well established teams. Exactly how long this situation will last, no one can say. What I do know is this: Everyone has approached the situation with determination and creativity. For example, the Staff Council was quick to call a special session to advise on as many scenarios and procedures as possible. The various departments have organized procedures and services to deal with this emergency situation. Deadlines have been extended and assistance arranged.

All the University´s lecturers have been called upon to develop digital options for teaching. This week, the Berlin universities expressed their determination to offer a summer semester 2020 and develop digital teaching options. A new 10-million-euro program has been set up in Berlin for this purpose. Please devote yourself fully to this task and do everything you can to ensure that we can offer teaching programs in digital formats in the summer semester. Our students need your help. InnoCampus and the Center for Scientific Continuing Education and Cooperation´s online teaching team are there to help you with this.

After this somewhat turbulent week, I would like to wish all of you a pleasant and relaxing weekend.

Remain at home and stay healthy.

Do everything you can to keep up your excellent work with us at this wonderful university – particularly in these difficult times.    

I will write to you again next Friday.

If you have any suggestions or tips, then you can write to me at 

Sincerely,

Professor Dr. Christian Thomsen
President of Technische Universität Berlin