Stefan Koch Appointed JKU Rector

Today, the JKU University Council appointed business informatics professor, Univ. Prof. Stefan Koch, as the new JKU Rector.

Rector Meinhard Lukas, Katharina Pabel (University Council Chair), Rector-elect Stefan Koch, Johann Höller (Senate Chair), photo credit: JKU
Rector Meinhard Lukas, Katharina Pabel (University Council Chair), Rector-elect Stefan Koch, Johann Höller (Senate Chair), photo credit: JKU

Stefan Koch has been JKU Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs since 2019 and beginning October 1, 2023, he will succeed the sitting Rector, Meinhard Lukas for a four-year term of office. His future plans for the JKU include positioning the JKU as a trailblazer in a new era, proactively structuring transformation processes, and contributing to society’s resilience during the process.

After reviewing all of the applications and following the candidates’ job talks, the JKU Senate approved the selection proposal, subsequently then approved by the Working Group for Equal Opportunities, and then submitted it to the University Council. The University Council adopted the decision and at today’s meeting, the Council elected Univ. Prof. Dr. Stefan Koch as the new JKU Rector for a four-year term of office beginning October 2023.

Univ. Prof. Dr. Katharina Pabel, chair of the University Council, remarked: "I truly am delighted that Prof. Dr. Koch will serve as the JKU’s new Rector. He possesses a high degree of professional skill and expertise, international experience, and an excellent understanding of the city as a university location. Building on the success of Meinhard Lukas' Rectorate, Stefan Koch will address current challenges with new momentum. Stefan Koch delivered a compelling concept that seeks to not only transform the JKU into a resilient and agile organization during an age of transition, but also one that will actively assumes its social responsibility as a university. I would like to thank all of involved participants who took part in the selection process for their constructive and valuable collaboration, particularly the search committee and the JKU Senate."

Senate Chairman A.Univ. Prof. Mag. DDr. Johann Höller: "The process to elect the new JKU Rector was competitive. I would like to thank the search committee for organizing the election as well as the University Council for their strong support. I would also like to extend my sincere congratulations to newly elected Rector Stefan Koch. I wish him all the best with regard to his future responsibilities. I believe that Stefan Koch will build on our strengths and continue to drive the JKU’s future forward toward becoming a leading European university."

Stefan Koch: An Expert in Business Informatics, with International Experience and a Close Relationship to the JKU
Born in Vienna in 1974, Stefan Koch earned a Diploma degree in business informatics at the University of Vienna, and subsequently earning a doctorate at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. He earned a habilitation/post-doc in 2006 in the area of business administration, with a focus on business information systems. Koch headed the Department of Management at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul between 2008 and 2016. In 2016, Stefan Koch followed the JKU's invitation and became head of the Institute of Information Systems - Information Engineering where he played a key role in establishing the JKU Business School. He joined the Rectorate under Meinhard Lukas in 2019 as Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and also served as deputy Rector. His research focuses on IT management, strategy and governance in organizations, as well as business models and open innovation processes as part of the digital economy.

The University as a Compass during Times of Great Change: The Rector-Elect's Initial Projects
Koch’s comprehensive outlook paper titled "Universität als Kompass in der Zeit großer Veränderungen. Verantwortung, Resilienz, Transformation" addressed the issue. His paper was based on numerous discussions with people at and outside of the university.

JKU Rector-elect Stefan Koch believes that in this context, universities have a special responsibility: "At present, our society is facing multiple crises and challenges, ranging from wars, climate change, and energy shortages to digitalization, pandemics, and inflation. These emerging crises are forcing and driving transformation processes at all levels. Society today is experiencing a more rapid pace of change than ever before. Society at large – along with individuals and organizations - need to be resilient and agile in order to effectively manage it all. The JKU wants to actively shape transformation processes and contribute to the resilience of society. As a broadly positioned university, JKU is in a completely unique position to fulfill these aspirations and use its diversity in disciplines for the benefit of social development. As a result, the JKU can - and wants to - lead the way toward a new era."

Stefan Koch intends to concentrate on the following key areas:

Interdisciplinary Research into Transformation Processes
Intentions to encourage so-called junctures at the crossroads of interdisciplinary networks to an even greater measure than in the past are on the agenda, but without, of course, losing any depth in the individual disciplines. One example is the Linz Institute for Transformative Change (LIFT_C). Currently in the planning stage, this is an effort to conduct research on the overarching topic of "transformation". Research areas related to transformation, such as sustainability and demographic challenges, involve and bring skills and expertise in very important areas together, such as machine learning, human medicine, and mechatronics. In terms of research-driven education, the academic degree programs will include these aspects.

Strengthening the University's Resilience and Agility
Society often revolves around a university and the JKU itself is affected by crises and transformation processes. In order to counter them effectively, it needs to be a resilient and agile organization. Employees continue to be the university’s strongest resource and the university intends to support employees by providing work/life balance compatible with life’s different situations, and develop a strong employer branding. These efforts are necessary in order for the university to survive in a competitive labor market. In addition, the goal is to drive digitization at the university forward and at all levels.

Supporting Diversity and Work/Life Balance
The JKU intends to continue supporting diversity and social cohesion, as well as equality and equal opportunities. In the long term, this will help ensure the organization’s resilience. The university also intends to expand existing programs and services, especially childcare options. In addition, demographic changes require becoming more accessible to new groups of students and support services and admissions processes need to be structured accordingly.

Networking and Outreach
As outlined in the university's Third Mission, the JKU would like to continue supporting open dialogue between academia and the community. Examples to date include programs and servicers offered at the Circus of Knowledge, the JKU Open Lab, and the JKU Science Holidays program. In the future, JKU would like to become more accessible in order to combat the skepticism surrounding science. Science communication will be a special focus in the coming years and a related extension program is in the planning stages.

Strategic Growth with the IDSA and Transforming the Location
JKU Rector-elect Koch added: "As Upper Austria's largest institution of research and education, in the future, the JKU has clear aspirations to continue playing a key and decisive role in shaping the region as a location of higher education. Strategic partnerships and content-related coordination with the other regional educational institutions at the location are a given. In terms of joint strategic growth, the JKU aims to proactively embrace the motto 'Two Universities, One Campus' and in the long run, create a win-win situation for everyone. In concrete terms, research partnerships with the IDSA as well as aligned and compatible degree programs should result being able to attract more students and researchers."

Meinhard Lukas Congratulates Stefan Koch
Meinhard Lukas has served as JKU Rector since 2015 and is pleased with today’s outcome, congratulating his successor: "Today marks a truly happy day for our university. Based on the Senate's strong vote, the University Council has paved the way toward a successful future. I would like to sincerely congratulate Stefan Koch on his election as the new Rector of the JKU. Over the past four years, we worked very well together, launching numerous programs and projects together. Stefan Koch will successfully continue building our wonderful university by putting his future-oriented ideas into practice and breaking new ground together with the JKU team. I fully support him in this endeavor. Starting immediately, we will work together with the utmost commitment to ensure a smooth transition. I wish Stefan Koch all the best in his new role."


Photos (free of charge):

Photo 1: Rector Meinhard Lukas, Katharina Pabel (University Council Chair), Rector-elect Stefan Koch, Johann Höller (Senate Chair), photo credit: JKU
Photo 2 Rector-elect Stefan Koch, Katharina Pabel (University Council Chair), Rector-elect Stefan Koch, Johann Höller (Senate Chair), photo credit: JKU
Photo 3: Rector Meinhard Lukas, Rector-elect Stefan Koch; photo credit: JKU
Photo 4: Rector-elect Stefan Koch; photo credit: JKU