Walter Rosenthal elected new President of the HRK

9. May 2023

Professor Dr Walter Rosenthal, President of the University of Jena, is the new President of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) with immediate effect. The General Assembly elected him today in Trier in the first ballot for a period of three years, until 31 July 2026. 

The new HRK President studied medicine at Giessen University and the Royal Free Hospital in London. He received his doctorate in Giessen in 1983, followed by his habilitation in pharmacology at Freie Universität Berlin in 1990. He then conducted research as a Visiting Professor and Heisenberg Fellow at Baylor College in Houston, Texas. From 1993 to 1996, Rosenthal was director of the Rudolf Buchheim Institute for Pharmacology at  Giessen University. In 1996, he became director of the Research Institute for Molecular Pharmacology, now the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP). In January 2009, he moved to the Max Delbrück Center (MDC) in Berlin-Buch, a research centre of the Helmholtz Association, as Chair of the Foundation’s Board and Scientific Director. In molecular pharmacology, he is considered an expert in cell communication, especially cellular signal transduction. In October 2014, he became President of the University of Jena. 

Rosenthal has been a member of the HRK Executive Board as Vice-President for Research, Academic Career Paths and Transfer since December 2021. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Senate of the Leibniz Association and Dean of the Max Planck Schools. In 2022, he was named “University Manager of the Year”. 

Rosenthal succeeds Professor Dr Peter-André Alt, who has represented the HRK since 2018, in the office of HRK President. Alt resigned from his post prematurely on 31 March 2023 to take on responsibility for setting up a new research foundation in Berlin. Since then, Professor Dr.-Ing. Bernd Scholz-Reiter, HRK Vice-President for International Affairs, has served as acting President of the German Rectors' Conference.  

Further strengthening the HRK as the "voice of the universities" to politicians and the public will be the focus of Prof Dr Walter Rosenthal’s new office. "I would like to bring the unique services and achievements as well as legitimate interests of our universities even more to the fore. As organisational centres of research, they are of outstanding importance for our country, but this is not always sufficiently appreciated. The diversity of the universities is a great strength. At the same time, we have to stand united if we want to be heard," said Rosenthal after his election. 

The President of the German Rectors’ Conference presides over the Executive Board with policy competence. The President represents the HRK both internally and externally. He or she is responsible for day-to-day business and convenes and chairs the meetings of the various decision-making bodies. Each HRK President holds office for a standard period of three years, with the option of being re-elected once after that. 

Link to the brief CV of Professor Dr Walter Rosenthal