The Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich and the Freie Universität Berlin have reached the next round of the Excellence Initiative, a broad selection process to promote top-level research and scholarship in Germany. The announcement was made by a joint commission of the German Research Foundation, the German Science Council and a panel of international experts from top schools such as MIT and Stanford. The Excellence Initiative will distribute a total of EUR 1.9 billion by 2011 to strengthen science and research, improve international competitiveness and raise the profile of the top universities in Germany.
The commission formally invited LMU Munich and Freie Universität Berlin to submit proposals for the three areas the Initiative will fund. These interlocking areas are graduate schools that promote new generations of academics, Clusters of Excellence that create hubs for networks of world-class research, and future concepts, institutional strategies for across-the-board university development.
LMU Munich and Freie Universität Berlin are proposing two graduate schools each. LMU Munich has named four Clusters of Excellence, and Freie Universität Berlin is represented with one as well. Having their proposals accepted in these two areas was a prerequisite for being considered for their future concepts. Only ten German universities were advanced to the final selection round for this third line of funding.
LMU Munich and Freie Universität Berlin want to seize on the funding promised by the Initiative to internationally expand their status as outstanding German research universities. Their future concepts encompass all areas of research, instruction, the promotion of young academics and management in order to expand academic excellence.
“The concepts we submitted to the commission and our first-rate research show that we can stave off stiff competition in several fields at once,” said LMU Munich Rector Prof. Bernd Huber. “We are absolutely determined to successfully prove our excellence in this last application phase...This application process helps us to further hone our profile and provide a new and important boost to our excellent competitive position in the sciences worldwide.”
“We are now working very optimistically on developing the Freie Universität Berlin as the International Network University,“ explained Prof. Dieter Lenzen, Freie Universität’s president. “This institutional strategy, complemented by the Graduate School for North American Studies and the cluster Governance in a Globalized World, deals with future policies and the transatlantic relations,
which are very significant for the Freie Universität. We are pleased that our cluster concept for the whole university was met with approval. We hope our concept contributes to the promotion of research in Germany and especially in Berlin,” Lenzen said.
At the graduate school level, LMU Munich has placed its emphasis on the sciences with both a broadly based Graduate School of Science and a school for systematic neurosciences. Freie Universität Berlin is drawing on one of its core strengths with the proposal of school for North American studies. Together with two other Berlin universities, Freie Universität Berlin has also drawn up plans for a Berlin Mathematical School. The graduate schools will promote new academics by grooming outstanding PhD candidates in a demanding research environment.
The second area of funding are the so-called Clusters of Excellence, internationally visible and competitive research and training facilities that enable the establishment of academic networks and cooperation. A Cluster of Excellence, funded with EUR 6.5 million per year, is to act as a major pillar of a university’s strategic and thematic planning.
LMU Munich has nominated four such clusters for the competition in areas as diverse as integrative protein science, nanosystems, advanced photon science and corporate innovation. The Freie Universität Berlin has been advanced for its concept of a cluster treating governance in a globalized world.
The Excellence Initiative was launched last June by Germany’s federal and state governments. The universities left in this narrowed field will be submitting their final proposals in the coming months. They are expecting the first five universities to be selected for their future concepts by November 2006.
The German University Alliance Inc is a joint initiative of the Freie Universität Berlin and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich to strengthen the academic bond between these two prestigious German institutions of higher education and the U.S. and Canada.
For more information about the Freie Universität Berlin, please go to www.fu-berlin.de/info/exzellenzini/
For more information about Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, please got to www.lmu.de/en/
For general information about the Excellence Initiative, please go to www.dfg.de/en
German University Alliance, New York