Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. h. c. mult. Ulrich Rüdiger, Rector, RWTH
Photo: Peter Winandy

Spotlight: The Rector’s Column

Dear Alumni,

For two years, the coronavirus made sure that we had to constantly adjust our everyday lives to meet the new requirements.

Now, after four digital semesters, this summer semester it has at last become the norm once again for classes to be held face-to-face. Since we no longer have a legal basis to compel everyone to wear masks, maintain minimum distances, or comply with the 3G rule, the Rectorate and AStA have agreed to launch a campaign: ‘We are still wearing our masks’. This concerted action highlights the fact that common wellbeing among the different groups within RWTH continues to have the highest priority.

We also need to be a strong community currently in regard to the Russian army’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which fills us all with horror, concern, and compassion. RWTH condemns all violence and violations of international law. We are committed to helping students and researchers in the Ukrainian war zone and those who are fleeing to the greatest extent possible. For this purpose we have started a joint relief operation with Uniklinik RWTH Aachen on the initiative of Professor Andrij Pich that is enabling us to provide very specific aid to hospitals in L’viv and other war zones. You can find a detailed article on this relief operation in this issue.

Since February, our offers of aid for potential students, students, doctoral candidates and researchers coming from a refugee background have been taken up many times over. By early May a total of 385 potential students from Ukraine had registered with our central academic refugee help point with regard to studying in the coming winter semester. Additionally, 28 researchers from Ukraine and four researchers from Russia who were employed at Ukrainian research institutions have contacted the university.

In line with the position of the German federal government and the German scientific organizations, the administration of RWTH has further decided to suspend cooperation with the Russian Federation until further notice. In practical terms this means that contracts with organizations that have direct connections to Russia will not be continued and no new contracts will be concluded. This also applies for mutual exchange visits for students and university staff with Russian institutions. Russian students and scholars already at RWTH are and will remain a part of the university community. Like everybody, we all hope for a rapid end to this horrendous war of aggression and that, in the spirit of science diplomacy, we will soon be able to reestablish the channels of communication between us.

Finally, international cooperation is necessary for us to be able to address the global social challenges we are facing. At RWTH, as elsewhere, we have meanwhile set up processes that will enable us to tackle issues such as climate change and sustainability in a focused manner on different levels. As an example, we are playing a leading role in exploring the potentials and risks of Industry 4.0 and are pursuing the objective of making production more sustainable and more resilient. Its future lies in its becoming compatible, across all industry sectors, with the circular economy. You can also find out more about our new Center for Circular Economy in this issue.

Enjoy reading, and stay healthy!

Kind regards from Aachen

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. h. c. mult. Ulrich Rüdiger