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If you have the chance to interview the newly elected rector, then three questions are not enough. We put nine questions to Professor Manfred Bayer on what he plans for his term of office.
1. Congratulations on your election as rector, Mr. Bayer. What have you got planned for teaching when you take up office in September?
I want to further improve conditions for our students, in particular the supervision ratio. Now that the funds from the University Pact are a stable source of income, universities can plan more reliably and create additional posts for lecturers. Senior professorships could also help to improve the student/professor ratio. In addition, we need to further increase students’ success rate, for example, through a zero semester…
…a question, please: A zero semester? That could lead to problems with the standard program duration…
My motto here is: There’s no such thing as impossible. We could use models here such as extended preparatory courses that already start in the early summer. If word gets round among prospective students that such an orientation phase makes it far easier to start studying, then this can become a success after two or three years. It’s not just a matter of learning the subject but also of getting to know the city and the campus and of contact to other students.
2. Due to the coronavirus crisis, campus life has come to a standstill. What do you think of digital teaching?
It’s working and we’re doing a good job. I already said in my application speech on 16 January – so before the coronavirus crisis – that I would like to expand digital teaching and digital exams. But to be honest, I personally miss above all the lecture hall right now: Looking up into the rows of students’ faces: Did they understand what I just said? Am I not expressing myself clearly? You don’t get this feedback when a lecture is streamed. Right now, I really miss direct contact to the students.
3. How do you view TU Dortmund University’s position in research?
TU Dortmund University is strong in research but could profit further from more coherent programs within the faculties and across faculty boundaries. For certain areas, the acquisition of external funding is important in order to keep pace in the research competition. TU Dortmund University is already good in some programs, for example, as far as Collaborative Research Centers are concerned, while we could get more out of other programs, such as the exchange programs of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
4. Which of the Rectorate’s business divisions do you intend to develop further?
Existing departments will continue: Teaching, research, finance and diversity management. But internationalization should also be anchored in one of the Rectorate’s business divisions. This is an area to which I’d like to devote more attention within the Rectorate. I didn’t hold any discussions prior to my election with people whom I’d like to recruit as members of the Rectorate. I’m starting to do this now.
5. In your view, what is still missing with regard to internationalization?
We should invite more international researchers to Dortmund because they can serve as excellent ambassadors for our University and the city after they return home. For this, we must make their stay as easy and unbureaucratic as possible. An important component in this context is undoubtedly the new guesthouse planned for the University. English-taught Master’s programs could also help foster internationalization.
6. Apart from internationalization, what role does the Ruhr area play for you as a science region?
In Dortmund and the Ruhr area we’ve got strong local partners: We already work very closely together with a number of non-university research institutions, such as the MPI of Molecular Physiology or the two Leibniz institutes. Collaboration with other organizations could be still closer, such as with the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. We could also work even more closely with Dortmund University of Applied Sciences, for instance in the area of transfer. Collaboration within the UA Ruhr alliance will certainly further intensify – without cooperation we won’t profit from the billions of euros in the coal phaseout plan which – according to a Ruhr Conference resolution – are reserved for joint research centers. And collaborating with the City of Dortmund is naturally also very important for us, for example, in the implementation of the Science Master Plan.
7. A big problem at TU Dortmund University is space. How could this be resolved?
New buildings are already in the planning in order to create more space. As TU Dortmund University, we could additionally profit if Dortmund University of Applied Sciences were to move in the medium term to the Hoesch Spundwand brownfield on Rheinische Strasse. TU Dortmund University might perhaps then be able to move into the University of Applied Science’s building on North Campus. That would really relieve the University’s acute and enormous space problem.
8. Will the Rectorate have a student member?
Staying in close and constant contact with students is tremendously important to me. Having a student member in the Rectorate is not necessarily needed to achieve this, it’s possible to work together well in other ways in order to put in place the very best study conditions. Official duties in the Rectorate take up so much time that a student member would not get round to doing what he or she is actually here for: To study. Moreover, it’s important for the Rectorate to work together over several years in the same constellation.
9. You’re originally from Franconia but have lived in Dortmund for 18 years. Where do you feel at home?
I’m a Borussia fan and have two season tickets. That hopefully answers your question! I felt welcome and comfortable here straight away. Dortmund is now my home, even if I miss Franconian wine and sausages now and again.
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Location & approach
The campus of TU Dortmund University is located close to interstate junction Dortmund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dortmund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dortmund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dortmund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dortmund.
To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.
TU Dortmund University has its own train station ("Dortmund Universität"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dortmund main station ("Dortmund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.
You can also take the bus or subway train from Dortmund city to the university: From Dortmund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dortmund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dortmund main station to the stop "Dortmund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dortmund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dortmund Universität S".
Dortmund Airport offers flights to several destinations in Central Europe. There are regular connections to Katowice, Kraków, London and Munich. For the approximately 20km-trip from Dortmund Airport to TU Dortmund University, you can use a shuttle bus to the railway Station "Bahnhof Holzwickede", from which trains depart to Dortmund main station (please visit Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr for more information). Normally, the fastest way is to catch a taxi at Dortmund Airport.
The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dortmund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dortmund Universität S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dortmund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.