For michael potzl, the ribbon of science is the key to the city's future. The university is prepared. In his speech, however, the university president does not spare criticism of the city and points out its failures.
Mr. Potzl, the ribbon of science – already favored in the 2008 ISEK – is drawing ever closer. What does this mean for coburg university in concrete terms and what exactly does it mean??
Michael plotzl: actually, the question should be: what does this mean for the city?? Because the future of the regions and thus also of coburg will be decided in competition with the metropolises. At first glance, this seems hopeless, since we cannot compete with the major cities in terms of size or reputation. But I deliberately say "seems" here and not "is, because we still have the best chances! But only if we grab it by the scruff of the neck.
New research institutes
The bond of science is, so to speak, the "key to success. Three elements are important:
1. Creating expansion opportunities for the university with a bridge across the itz into the city. Against the backdrop of further national and international programs – over 70 billion euros from the EU's "horizon 2020" program alone – we will expand existing research institutes and establish new ones.
2. Position coburg nationally as a science location through auberuniversitare research institutions. As one of the first locations of a university of applied sciences (HAW), we have established a fraunhofer application center. A great success, which until recently no one would have dared to believe, but which must now be pursued further in thought. We know from bayreuth how fast a fraunhofer working group can grow.
3. Giving space to the spirit of young university graduates. It's not just about square meters, but about a milieu for courageous creative minds from different disciplines. On the one hand, this involves intensifying cooperation with local industrial companies, for example in terms of engineering services, and on the other hand, it involves completely new fields, such as the life sciences or biotechnology.
Be brave, dare to make a prediction: when will the abattoir be demolished??
If i had to extrapolate from the past into the future: sometime in the next few years. Since scandals develop a momentum of their own, at least for a certain period of time, from the rise alone, i hope that the decision to close the university will be followed promptly by its demolition. Preferably in 2013, so that the start of urban development in the 21st century can finally begin. The challenges of the twenty-first century are becoming visible.
The importance of the university for the city of coburg with regard to population development and the shortage of skilled workers seems to be recognized. Housing for students is being created, and the parties have written the topic into their election programs. In your opinion, does the university take the place it deserves?? Which strand would you like to pull together with the city??
Among the population, we enjoy a great deal of attention, recognition and sympathy. At the beginning of my time at the university twelve years ago, people were still talking about "the school up there". Our regional presence as a source of ideas (z.B. Design of the coburg marketplace), scientific institution (z.B. Science day of the nurnberg metropolitan region at the university of coburg), partner of many municipal institutions (z.B. Gi-kitas" project – health requirements in daycare centers) and as a social asset with more than 4500 students and almost 400 scientists and employees, coburg is not only a de facto, but also a perceived university town.
The answer after the line is therefore obvious. Election programs are not enough! Action must finally follow. I will give two examples. The hofbraugelande, which has been largely abandoned for many years and was only brilliantly staged for the coburg design days, will be turned into an urban development highlight by the university. A total of 35 million euros will have been invested by 2015.
Parking spaces are lacking!
The only drawback is the precarious parking situation for almost 1000 students, about 80 employees and over 100 students who will live there later.
My request to mayor kastner that the city create parking space on the nearby suc site, for example, which the university could also use, was categorically rejected.
In kempten, by the way, this also goes. Here, the city is contributing one million euros to a parking garage for "its" residents university. The second example is marketing. Look for the university on the city's website? It is under the heading "citizens and administration" hidden. Not even the aforementioned science day on 26. July 2013 is announced. Professional marketing looks different.
You emphasize again and again that coburg with its economy and especially with the possibilities of creative and motivated minds in this city could be in a much better position than at the moment. Can you give an example?
The region's economy is very well positioned. We have internationally active companies here in a density that is unmatched in any other city in this region. And we are a true university town, with eleven percent of the population studying at the university. Nurnberg, for example, has significantly fewer.
On the other hand, we are facing major challenges. Not only because the proportion of university graduates in local companies is only 50 percent in bavaria, but also because the proportion of 16- to 19-year-olds will fall by a quarter in the next ten years. Retaining and attracting skilled workers and managers is becoming a crucial question. For this coburg needs a development and marketing strategy 2020.
Where do you see the failures of the last years?? And what do you see as coburg's chance?
Exactly the strategy mentioned and a clear commitment to the decisive location factors of business, science and culture. By the way, you can quickly get answers to the question posed by asking coburgers in the marketplace.
The discussion is dominated by the underground parking garage at the castle square, the increased parking fees on the anger, or the renaming of hindenburgstrabe. And why? Because the city council and the media are equally devoted to this, instead of openly taking the people into the discussion about the future of coburg. And there are enough creative minds anyway. Coburg has all the opportunities if it seizes them! When it comes to filling professorships, for example, we have experienced that we are left with a "package lottery" also and above all against universities in the metropolises.
Offer package deal
"Parcel lottery" it offers career prospects for highly qualified partners, reliable childcare and schools, and a high quality of life for young families.
But the application itself is a prerequisite. And there is still a problem here, because very few people know what coburg is all about. For our neighboring city of bamberg, by the way, this does not apply to the same extent!
It is well known that you are critical of norbert kastner's city policy – also because of the long period of office of now almost 24 years. In your opinion, what is the danger of such a long term of office??
I cannot judge this from my own experience. I have been president of the university for a good four years now, but I can well imagine that after a certain amount of time, the momentum wears off.
Personally, I have always sought and found new challenges. Sometimes they have come about unexpectedly. I am also firmly convinced that democracy thrives on changes in the people who act.
Rope bridge to the campus
And one more question for the bridge builder potzl: which ones would you like to build in coburg, which arch? And where should he go for the university??
As a passionate civil engineer of course first of all a real bridge. After the connection between the campus friedrich-streib-strabe and the city center is circumstantial, hardly findable and urbanistically miserable, i could imagine a filigree rope bridge from gabelsbergerstrabe to lossaustrabe in connection with the reconstruction of the train station to a modern ICE-stop. So to speak as a visible gesture of the connection between university and city. And naturally designed, constructed and equipped with innovative lighting design by our faculty of design.
And in the figurative sense?
Looking to the future. That means not having to react, but being allowed to act! We are currently working on our university development plan, called hepco 2020. We have identified seven strategic goals that we want to achieve by 2020. To achieve this, one needs the strength to look to the future, to assess and evaluate developments, and above all to set priorities. And finally a portion of courage. Exactly this must be the way for the city of coburg as well. But there is more to it than the ISEK. An "isekplus" if you will.
Exciting developments are already emerging for coburg university. The higher education landscape has been set in motion by the bologna reform, rapid developments in research, new regional cooperations such as the technology alliance of upper franconia (TAO) and international alliances.
In any case, we want to be a university in 2020 that is at home in the region and plays an important role in the scientific landscape.
The questions were asked by christiane lehmann.