Sincerely, Prof. Dr. Antonio Loprieno
Jacobs University Bremen
March 24, 2020
Dear members of Jacobs Community, dear students, dear employees, dear parents, dear friends,
When I took over the position as President of Jacobs University a few months ago, I looked forward to an exciting time filled with a variety of challenging tasks. We all approached the project of a new strategy for our university fully focused and with great motivation.
Now – just over three months later – we find ourselves in a completely new world. Living with a pandemic has changed not only our university’s but also our entire society’s perspective.
In Sunday’s press conference (GERMAN / ENGLISH TRANSLATION) our government presented new regulations for the restriction of public life and social contacts. It has become clear to all of us, not only here in Germany but all over the world, that COVID-19 will dramatically change our daily life, our work, our way of communicating and interacting with each other.
Our university – and I can confirm this from many conversations I had with other academic institutions, with companies, with public institutions and authorities – has dealt with the coronavirus at a very early stage, very intensively and very seriously, and has taken very early on appropriate precautionary measures. The reason for our early dealing with this epidemic was our understanding that our university is itself a global institution, a small representation of the whole world here in the northern German city of Bremen.
Thus, risks and challenges of the Hubei Province in China have become our own problems, our own risks, our own challenges. And that's how it will also be in the future: Jacobs University is not an island, but a reflection of the entire world. And it is this peculiarity, this feature that distinguishes us from other institutions of higher education. This is our own strength and this should be a guiding principle for dealing with our present crisis, especially in exceptional situations like the one we are experiencing now.
Diversity, understanding, tolerance, and openness – these values are currently being tested very intensively, painfully and sometimes to the limit for many of us. And yet, not IN SPITE OF this crisis, but BECAUSE of this crisis, I feel very proud to be able to serve as President of our unique community.
Today, I would like to talk to you about innovation, express my thanks and my respect, ask for your understanding, and also present some new regulations. But at the same time – and this perhaps has a slightly bitter aftertaste – I would also like to express a clear warning and a serious admonition to the very few students on campus who apparently have not yet understood the seriousness of the situation and the need for a common, social solidarity.
But let me begin by talking about the positive aspects and effects of this negative crisis.