In the jury's view, President Gien succeeds in developing a shared vision and coherent strategy for the KU through participative leadership in the team, with transparency, communication and appreciative interaction, and anchoring it in a committed transformation process. According to CHE, the KU had performed excellently in the data-based pre-selection. This shows that Gien has transformed the KU into a University that enjoys a good standing, despite governance structures that have not always been easy. When it comes to sustainability, she said, she can build on a solid foundation at the KU. Nevertheless, Gien has given the process another decisive boost and stands for the very ambitious goal of climate neutrality in 2025, the jury praises.
The Bavarian Minister of Science, Markus Blume, congratulated Gien on the nomination: “New Foundation Charter, great successes in acquiring third-party funding, excellent staff-to-student ratio! These impressive marks show: President Prof. Dr. Gien is a woman of action. The nomination expresses great appreciation and is a well-deserved confirmation of her work. Congratulations and good luck for the final!”
“Team spirit, trust and loyalty as well as professional diversity characterize our University Management", says Gabriele Gien and continues: "Personal relationship management and value-oriented leadership that focuses on the individual and their strengths are reflected in our jointly developed leadership guidelines. The DNA of a Catholic university virtually demands social responsibility and the leadership style described."
Her colleagues describe her as "appreciative, integrative, smart and motivating", CHE quotes from corresponding surveys. "President Gabriele Gien is continuously driving forward the positive and purposeful transformation of the KU – with great participation and networking of all status groups and in intensive and reliable teamwork on the part of the University Management", the statement continues.
"Since my first term, I have tried to implement the vision of an 'Engaged University' with a strong Third Mission approach in a participatory manner in a consistent transformation process", Gien said. Strategic milestones have already been implemented in research as well as in teaching and transfer to this end: Interdisciplinary research and transfer centers on key social issues have been developed. In the field of studies and teaching, service learning and a Studium.Pro program have been integrated as central elements in all degree programs, and learning formats have been geared toward research-based learning. The ‘Pro’ in Studium.Pro stands for profile and profession, as well as for proactive engagement with society. It is intended to enable students to engage in interdisciplinary discourse and collaboration with educational partners in the region.
Part of the strategy development is the focused participation in tenders in the area of social responsibility, such as seven tenure track professorships of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the guiding principle "For a human-centered digital society” adopted by the KU. The KU also succeeded in becoming the only University in Bavaria to receive funding in the "Innovative University" program for the second time. In addition, the KU has already received several awards for its initiatives to improve environmental sustainability. In 2010, the topic of sustainability was also anchored in the Foundation Charter. In 2013, the German UNESCO Commission recognized the KU's sustainability concept as a project of the UN Decade of “Education for Sustainable Development”. In 2015, the KU became the first University in Bavaria to be certified under the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and in 2017 as a Fairtrade University. "President Gabriele Gien has begun to shape a University in which sustainability is firmly anchored in the Mission Statement, profile and in everyday life. She made a significant contribution towards the KU becoming the first and only University in Germany to receive the EU's EMASplus certificate in 2019”, CHE quotes colleagues at leadership level.
The KU's goal is to be climate neutral by 2025. The way is paved, but implementation still requires a clear commitment from the University Management and visible role models on management level, emphasizes Gien. In order to involve all status groups and to pool external and internal activities, a Green Office was set up as a hub. The KU.Sustainability Research Lab was founded for interdisciplinary researchers. In the future, the topics of sustainability and transformation in teaching and continuing education will be pooled in a separate faculty structure.
The nominees for the "University Manager of the Year 2022" award were determined in several stages. A data-based pre-selection process was used to identify universities with particularly strong positive development dynamics. In the second selection stage, all 33 identified University Managers were interviewed about their understanding of leadership. As a further perspective, colleagues in management as well as the respective University Council Chairs were surveyed on the leadership performance of their University Management and the interaction within the team; legitimacy and acceptance of leadership decisions were also considered. Strategic leadership with regard to the issue of sustainability was included in the surveys. All results formed the basis for the jury's decision to nominate the six finalists. The "University Manager of the Year" award has been presented since 2008, since 2013 jointly by the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT and the CHE Center for Higher Education Development.
On the person
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gien (60) has been the President of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU) since 2016. Before her appointment as President in October 2016, she served as interim President from 2014. In 2021, she was unanimously re-elected President of the KU for another term. She studied German studies, art history and education at LMU Munich. Her professional and research focus includes reading research, creative writing processes and international teacher education.
More information on the “University Manager of the Year 2022” award is available on the CHE website.