Press release from

Professor Eva Inés Obergfell will be the new rector of Leipzig University. The University’s Extended Senate elected the 49-year-old as Professor Beate Schücking’s successor in the second round of voting on Tuesday (23 November 2021) with a majority of 49 of the 84 votes cast, with 16 against and one invalid vote. Obergfell’s competitor, Leipzig University’s own Professor Rose Marie Beck, received 18 votes. The candidates introduced themselves on Tuesday in a meeting of the Extended Senate, which was open to members of the University community and where they both presented their goals and visions.

“I would like to thank the Extended Senate for the trust they have placed in me and I very much look forward to this challenging task,” said Professor Obergfell after being elected. “I see the election result as my clear mandate. Even before my official term of office, important preparations need to be taken care of – in particular, picking a rectorate. When I take office, I will propose the new rectorate to the Senate for election, so that a new management team can get started quickly.” Within the framework of the strategic fields of action, one primary focus of the new rectorate will be on supporting the nascent cluster initiatives.

“Great challenges lie ahead for the University, which is over 600 years old,” said the newly elected rector. “I consider the number one priority to be to strengthen and enable excellence throughout the diversity of the comprehensive university. On the one hand, this means selectively expanding externally funded research and, above all, supporting the cluster initiatives. On the other, it means promoting top-level research in different ways that go beyond traditional external funding formats, raising our international profile and stimulating and developing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary cooperation.” She sees two further focal points closely linked to this: creating excellent framework conditions to promote excellent early career researchers, and developing knowledge and technology transfer further.

As for teaching, Professor Obergfell emphasised: “Firstly, it is important to protect and strengthen the quality of university teaching, which is fed by research. The second focus is the internationalisation of teaching, which I aim to promote in the Arqus European University Alliance as an excellent engine of internationalisation. My third focus is on the targeted expansion of didactically motivated digitisation in teaching, embedded in a sustainable infrastructure.”

The Chairman of the University Council, Dr Hans-Gerhard Husung, and the current Rector, Professor Beate Schücking, were among the first to offer their congratulations. “We look forward to working with Professor Obergfell and as the University Council will be committed to supporting her,” explained Dr Husung. Professor Rose Marie Beck also congratulated Professor Obergfell and thanked the University Council and the senators for the open election process.

The election was necessary because the regular five-year term of office of Rector Professor Beate Schücking ends on 31 March 2022. Schücking, who has a medical background, has held the office since 2011. In Saxony, higher education law allows rectors to serve a maximum of two five-year terms. 

With Professor Ulf Diederichsen, there were originally three candidates on the electoral list. Professor Ulf Diederichsen passed away on 11 November 2021.

Eva Inés Obergfell is a legal scholar and professor at the Faculty of Law at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She studied law at the universities of Bielefeld, Strasbourg and Konstanz. As part of her second degree in Romance studies, she read media studies alongside her doctorate. She received her doctorate from the University of Konstanz in 2000, where she also received her habilitation in 2010. After working as a lawyer in Berlin, as a research assistant at the Chair of Business Law and Intellectual Property at the Technical University of Munich, and as a substitute professor at RWTH Aachen University, the universities of Mannheim and Bonn and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, as well as teaching positions at the universities of Regensburg and Bayreuth, Ms Obergfell was offered professorships at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the University of Bonn in 2011. In the same year, she was appointed professor at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. There, from 2012 to 2015 she held the offices of Dean of Studies and then Vice Dean for Research at the Faculty of Law. From October 2016 to September 2021, she served as Vice President for Teaching and Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.