January 12, 2018
Bremen – After heading Jacobs University for four years, President Katja Windt is about to tackle a new set of challenges. From January 15, she will be in charge of the Electric and Automation Division, as well as of digitalization, at the SMS Group. SMS is a family-managed company for plant and mechanical engineering, responsible for the finishing of steel and nonferrous metals. The SMS Group had a turnover of about three billion euros in 2016 and employs approximately 13,500 employees worldwide.
The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Jacobs University, Professor Jürgen Zöllner, paid tribute to Windt as a “committed fighter for Jacobs University, who broke new ground during her period of office.” According to Zöllner, “While gratefully acknowledging her tremendous achievements, we understand and respect that a new professional and life perspective has opened up for her, which she would like to seize. We wish her the same success for this as at our university.”
In accordance with the statutes, Professor Michael Hülsmann will from January 15 take over automatically as the sole managing director of Jacobs University, and the office of president, until further notice. Following the successful change process of the past four years, Mr. Hülsmann will in this role guide the new phase of growth orientation and strategic further development.
Katja Windt worked at Jacobs University for ten years, initially as professor for production logistics, then as provost and in recent years as president. “Jacobs University will always be of outstanding importance to me,” she revealed. “The cosmopolitan, international atmosphere and interdisciplinary thinking - all of this fascinated me and has had a decisive influence on my career.”
At the beginning of her presidency, Jacobs University faced a challenging economic situation. Together with her managing director colleague, Professor Michael Hülsmann, she restructured the subjects offered, cut positions and enforced many austerity measures. “That was a difficult time for our university,” recalled Windt. “But in retrospect, one can say it was the right course and unavoidable,” emphasized the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Jürgen Zöllner.
Combining academic quality with a solid economic foundation – this was Windt’s goal from the start - one in which she succeeded. Top results in CHE- and U-Multirank confirmed the outstanding quality of teaching at Jacobs University, the university made more turnover by taking part in renowned research projects - and in addition attracted more students. Within four years, Jacobs University achieved an improved result of 16.6 million euros with a budget of about 50 million euros. Last fall, the number of students reached a new all-time high. At the same time, Windt sharpened the profile of Jacobs University as a place for company further training. In the last year-and-a-half, she flew to China almost monthly to arouse the enthusiasm of companies there for the private university with great success.
“Everything I was able to help shape at Jacobs University was only possible because our university has wonderful employees, who achieved tremendous things in recent years,” noted Windt. The positive developments at the campus in Bremen-North also convinced the Jacobs Foundation at the end of last year to enter into a second sponsorship phase, following the major donation of 200 million euros of Klaus J. Jacobs in 2006: from this year, it will support the Jacobs University with up to CHF 100 million within ten years. “In the last four years, Jacobs University has provided an impressive demonstration of how a private university can steer its work with entrepreneurial management models, without thereby impairing academic freedom and an orientation to excellence," the foundation managing director Sandro Giuliani pointed out.
“I’m leaving this university convinced that it’s on a promising track and very much hope that it remains as fascinating and inspiring as I got to know it,” said the departing president.