A stroke of luck for the foundation

At the end of 2017, after ten years and two periods in office, Helmut Schwarz is retiring as the President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. An appreciation of the Schwarz-era by Enno Aufderheide, the Foundation’s Secretary General. 

For the Humboldt Foundation and the Humboldt Network, Helmut Schwarz has been nothing less than a stroke of luck – that is the unanimous opinion of everyone who has ever encountered Mr Schwarz in his role as President of the Foundation. 

Freedom of research

Helmut Schwarz embodies the Humboldt Foundation’s sponsorship philosophy in a unique way: for him, research in the Humboldt context always means top-level research, and he rigorously demands the appropriate attitude and motivation. He vehemently argues for the individual’s freedom of research, for the scope that facilitates curiosity- and knowledge-driven research. He is just as vehement in his campaign to trust in the potential of individual researchers. He believes that what the Humboldt Foundation does by sponsoring people is the ideal form of research funding and the best possible investment.

Helmut Schwarz surrounded by award winners at the first award ceremony for the Humboldt Professorship.
Helmut Schwarz surrounded by award winners at the first award ceremony for the Humboldt Professorship. The introduction of Germany’s most valuable research award, which was first announced in 2008, was one of the milestones of his presidency. (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/David Ausserhofer)
Honorary doctorate from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba
Schwarz was strongly committed to the worldwide Humboldt Network and went on numerous trips abroad. He was frequently granted honorary doctorates and awards, such as an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina, in 2017. (Photo: Universidad Nacional de Córdoba)
A “matter dear to his heart”: German-Israeli academic relations.
A “matter dear to his heart”: German-Israeli academic relations. For his services in this field Schwarz was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in 2012. At a colloquium in Tel Aviv in 2016, he met the Foundation’s first fellow from Israel, Eve Chava Landau. (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Felix Rettberg)
Helmut Schwarz with the 2013 Anneliese Maier Research Award winners
The Anneliese Maier Research Award for humanities scholars and social scientists from abroad: first announced in 2011, this collaborative award is designed to promote the internationalisation of these disciplines in Germany. Helmut Schwarz with award winners in 2013. (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Tim Wegner)
Highlight in the Foundation’s calendar: the reception held by the Federal President in the grounds of Schloss Bellevue
A regular highlight in the Foundation’s calendar: the reception held by the Federal President in the grounds of Schloss Bellevue during the Annual Meeting in Berlin. Helmut Schwarz in 2013 together with the then Federal President Joachim Gauck and Humboldtians. (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/David Ausserhofer)
2016 German Chancellor Fellows with Chancellor Angela Merkel
The German Chancellor Fellowship Programme for tomorrow’s leaders was expanded during the Schwarz era: since 2013, in addition to candidates from the United States, China and Russia, Brazilians and Indians have also been eligible to apply. The 2016 cohort with Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Photo: Federal Government/Sandra Steins)
Assistance for researchers at risk: At the end of 2015, the Philipp Schwartz Initiative was launched
Assistance for researchers at risk: At the end of 2015, the Philipp Schwartz Initiative was launched to enable universities to host refugee researchers. Conferences feature as part of the programme, such as the 2017 Conference on the Freedom of Science in Berlin. (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/David Ausserhofer)

The entire picture in mind

During Helmut Schwarz’s terms in office, the Foundation continued to develop its portfolio of research fellowships and awards for the cream of the international research landscape with a clear view to the needs of science. In this context, Helmut Schwarz never restricted the Foundation to specific, short-term targets but always kept the entire picture in mind: “The Humboldt Foundation is a Gesamtkunstwerk”, he often emphasises and means a complete oeuvre that makes the world a tiny bit better – because Schwarz is convinced that science and research, and the way researchers treat each other, engenders a diplomacy of trust. Even, and especially, in times of global crisis and conflict, scientific exchange strengthens the bridges of understanding that make it possible for us to speak to one another rather than to talk about one another.

With empowerment and enthusiasm

Helmut Schwarz stands for a culture of respect and esteem; he encourages and empowers people to develop their potential and is quite prepared, where necessary, to express clear and constructive criticism at the same time. His commitment to the Humboldt Family with its more than 28,000 Humboldtians worldwide is legendary – countless journeys on the Humboldt Foundation’s behalf have taken him to all the corners of the Earth where he has contributed to the Foundation’s outstanding international reputation. Everybody, everywhere will bear witness to his characteristic warmth in dealing with people, the sparkle in his eyes and his charismatic enthusiasm.

Ten years have left a decisive mark on the Foundation

His personal engagement for the vibrancy of the Humboldt Network, his infectious enthusiasm and his untiring campaigning for scientific excellence have left a decisive mark on the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. All of us at the Foundation – and undoubtedly well beyond – look back with enormous gratitude on the ten-year “Presidency of Helmut Schwarz” and wish him all the very best for the future from the bottom of our hearts!

Hans-Christian Pape will succeed Helmut Schwarz as head of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

From January 2018, his successor at the helm of the Humboldt Foundation will be the brain researcher and professor at the University of Münster, Hans-Christian Pape. Mr Pape will officially assume office at the Foundation’s New Year’s Reception on 18 January when we shall warmly welcome him as our new President.

Contact

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Press, Communications and Marketing
Tel: +49 228 833-144
Fax:+49 228 833-441
presse(at)avh.de

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