May 22, 2019
The fence is made of glass, "Welcome" is written on it in many languages and yet it remains a fence. "For many," says Jens V. Dünnbier of the Management Board of Jacobs University, "these are still the former barracks, where you don't know exactly what's going on." It is important to him that as many neighbors and as many people from Bremen as possible look beyond the fence. The best time to do so is on May 25, the day of the "Open House", with children's program and barbecue, campus tours, laboratory visits, live music and hands-on science.
Hospitality is a matter close to his heart, stresses the 48-year-old. Dünnbier doesn’t just say that, he means it. Openness, service- and customer orientation are part of his DNA. For 30 years, a fan of Udo Jürgens' music, has worked in the hotel business, starting with a classical apprenticeship, in various establishments, including the Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin. Most recently, he spent six years as director of the Romantik Hotel at the Wartburg in Eisenach before moving to Jacobs University last fall.
What does a passionate hotelier do at a university? "I have to admit that I wouldn’t have come up with the idea of changing jobs myself," says Dünnbier. An acquaintance approached him, told him about Jacobs University and its plans. "I was immediately enthusiastic about the university's attitude and the upcoming tasks," says Dünnbier. The enthusiasm was mixed with respect - for the academic world unknown to him, but also for the fact that the university was opening up to someone from a completely different industry.
“Housing" is one of his central tasks. Jacobs University is growing, but the space is limited. 960 students currently live on campus. 73 new apartments have just been built in a former administration building. Dünnbier is currently negotiating with investors about the construction of new colleges on a neighboring site. They should be completed by the end of 2021.
The four existing colleges are the pulsating centers of Jacobs University. They accommodate students from a wide variety of nations under one roof, each supervised by a resident mentor. "The colleges often shape the development of a student for a lifetime," says Dünnbier. He is also responsible for their smooth functioning. He considers the students as guests who should be treated as such. To be approachable, helpful and open, that's what he is all about and that's what he expects from his team.
Conferences and events such as the annual AutoDigital conference and Graduation, facility management, campus activities such as Open House, gastronomy and campus security are also part of his remit. And the glass fence contributes to safety, because for many parents from faraway countries it is important to know their children live in a protected area.
Dünnbier lives with his wife and their two nine- and eleven-year-old children in Bremen-Grohn, barely one kilometer away from Jacobs University. He walks to work and can stop by quickly, for example for an event. Before his move from Eisenach, the Karlsruhe-born man only visited Bremen once, the year before last, for his birthday. "We wanted to go to a beautiful city where we have never been before. So we spent a weekend with the children in Bremen, visiting the museum “Universum”, the city center and the promenade at the river Weser. All the things you do as a family."
The weekend trip had a lasting effect. "We felt very comfortable in Eisenach. But when we told our children that we were moving away from the city and their friends, they were not sad at all. They cheered and looked forward to Bremen. That was a great relief."
Further information on the Open House can be found at: