Formal Inauguration Ceremony for JKU Rector Stefan Koch

The ceremonial inauguration for Univ. Prof. Dr. Stefan Koch as the JKU’s new Rector took place today, October 3, 2023.

From left: Former Rector Meinhard Lukas, new Rector Stefan Koch; Photo Credi
From left: Former Rector Meinhard Lukas, new Rector Stefan Koch; Photo Credi

The highlights included Koch’s inauguration speech and transferring the JKU insignia, the Rector's Chain, and the University's Key of Honor, to the new Rector.

The University Council and the Senate extended an invitation to prominent guests to attend the inauguration ceremony in JKU's Ceremony Hall. The 500-person guest list to attend the ceremony included government representatives, representatives from the business community and academia, including numerous Rectors and Vice-Rectors from other universities. Following speeches by the president of the Linz University Fund, Governor Mag. Thomas Stelzer, and Linz Mayor MMag. Klaus Luger, there was a video message by ao. Univ. Prof. Dr. Martin Polaschek, the Austrian Federal Minister for Education, Science & Research. The supporting program was provided by our own JKU Circus of Knowledge as performers presented an excerpt from "rubisco variationen - die Sonate der Photosynthese" featuring actress Anne Bennent and accordionist Otto Lechner. The inauguration was musically supported by the JKU University Orchestra, which performed, among other pieces, "The Scientist" by Coldplay.

In taking office, the new JKU Rector Stefan Koch used the motto "Wissen, was uns verbindet", sharing his enthusiasm for the university in this context "(...) as a truly wonderful place of hope, continual innovation, the joy of discovery, fascination, inquisitiveness, and creating a sense of togetherness for a wide variety of people”. He believes, "The university is a place to feel at home, feel free, and also a place to be challenged for all of those who are here or who want to come here."

While delivering his inaugural address, Stefan Koch also referred to the "great upheaval" of our current times and the responsibilities of universities that come with it: "The JKU is Upper Austria’s largest institution of research and education, looking back at a history of almost 60 years. Over the next four years, I intend to build on its impressive foundation and continue down an already successful road together with my team and everyone at JKU. The JKU has an impressive range of academic disciplines across its four faculties and six schools: we have countless opportunities to build networks between different branches of science. We can take advantage of these to conduct research on current transformation processes ranging from digitalization to sustainability, thereby contributing significantly to the advancement of society."

He specifically outlined how the Linz Institute for Transformative Change (LIFT_C) would play a key role as a future hub to support interdisciplinary methods aimed at enhancing social transformation processes. He would also like to encourage connections between research areas, such as artificial intelligence and medicine. He also aims to further support bringing science and art together by strengthening partnerships with the University of Applied Arts Vienna and the Linz University of Art & Design. Membership to the European University EC2U (European Campus of City-Universities) in the fall of 2023 is expected to further expand the university's international reach. Given the rapid development of generative AI models, such as ChatGPT, Stefan Koch will also focus on university didactics as well as ongoing improvements in educational and examination formats and discussing related competencies. By pooling technological and educational expertise, the JKU is ideally positioned to become a leader in this field.

The Inauguration Ceremony

The ceremonial high point during the inauguration included transferring the JKU insignia. Together with Senate Chairwoman Dr. Ursula Rami (the new chair since October 1), University Council Chairwoman Univ. Prof. Dr. Katharina Pabel presented Stefan Koch with the Rector's Chain. Katharina Pabel remarked: "As the JKU’s new Rector, Univ. Prof. Dr. Stefan Koch brings in a high degree of professional expertise, international experience, and an excellent understanding of the university’s location. I wish him all the best for his upcoming tasks and I look forward to working together to support our university’s interests."

Ursula Rami added: "I believe that Rector Stefan Koch and his team will continue to give us the momentum our university needs. A university's responsibility is, after all, to support social transformation processes. I am looking forward to working with him and over the years, I have come to know and appreciate his efforts with fellow colleagues."

During the formal ceremony, the outgoing rector, Univ. Prof. Dr. Meinhard Lukas, passed on the university's Key of Honor to his successor: "Over the past four years, I have had the privilege of successfully working with Stefan Koch in the Rectorate. I am especially pleased he will become the JKU’s new Rector. Stefan Koch will steer the JKU on to new paths and toward a bright future with new ideas. To this end, he has my full support."

The new JKU Rectorate has also begun its four-year term of office on October 1. Rector Stefan Koch's team will include of Univ. Prof. Dr. Alberta Bonanni (Vice-Rector for Research and International Affairs), Mag. Dr. Elgin Drda (Vice-Rector for Medicine), Mag. Alexander Freischlager (Vice-Rector for Campus Enhancements, Digitization, and Sustainability), Univ. Prof. Dr. Andreas Janko (Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs), and Mag. Christiane Tusek (Vice-Rector for Finance and Entrepreneurship).

A video introducing the new Rectorate: The New Rectorate | JKU Linz - YouTube, opens an external URL in a new window

The New JKU Deans
The JKU deans will take office at the beginning of October. The new deans are: Univ. Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Bergthaler (Dean at the Faculty of Law), Univ. Prof. Dr. Alois Ferscha (Dean at the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences), and Univ. Prof. Dr. Gerald Pruckner (Dean at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Economics & Business). Mag. Dr. Elgin Drda remains Dean at the Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Wolfram Hötzenecker, MBA will serve as Dean of Research, and Prof. Bernd Lamprecht will serve as Dean for Teaching and Students.

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