Press release

Promoting science, fostering diversity: Cornelia Woll is new President of the Hertie School

First woman President joins the Hertie School from Sciences Po in Paris.

Berlin, 15 March 2022. After an international selection process and her appointment by the Academic Senate in December 2021, Prof. Cornelia Woll today took up her role as the new President of the Hertie School in Berlin. The political scientist joins the School from Sciences Po in Paris, where she served as President of the Academic Board and was Professor of Political Science, among other positions. Prof. Woll succeeds former President Prof. Henrik Enderlein, who passed away in spring 2021, and she takes over the duties of the current Acting President Prof. Mark Hallerberg, who has been leading the private university in the interim.

A particular focus for the new President will be to strengthen research, which plays a fundamental role as a bridge builder in times of digital disinformation and increasing polarisation: "We are experiencing an inflection point that affects us all and calls for a rethink. As a university, we have to produce knowledge and communicate methods that can guide action in political crises, be it in the geopolitical upheaval triggered by Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the implementation of climate protection, or in the regulation of digital spaces," Woll said. Likewise, diversity in research, teaching and the student body ranks high on her agenda. "Our social responsibility is to be inclusive in our education of future leaders," Woll said.

Science and academia as bridge builders

As part of her Presidency, Woll is also calling on researchers to play an active role in the university. They should critically question their own role and open themselves up for discussions. "Research should not only have a place at the academic lectern, but also in public debate," says the President. Especially in times of crisis, there is a great need for analysis and explanation, she said. It is also an opportunity to bring the voice of science and research into society, Cornelia Woll says. For example, the university is currently organising many events dealing with the war in Ukraine and its impact on politics, the economy and civil society. Most of these events are also accessible to all via streaming and can be viewed afterwards.

Fostering and ensuring diversity in all areas

Fostering diversity at all levels is another key priority for the new university President – particularly in the faculty. She will also put emphasis on topics dealing with minorities and discrimination in research and the curriculum. In terms of gender diversity, all faculty positions will be equally representated, and Hertie School employees have committed themselves to not participate in all-male panels.

Student diversity is another focus. "We want to expand our scholarship offerings to ensure that qualifications, not financial resources, are the deciding factor in choosing the Hertie School," Woll said. Currently, the School offers over twelve different scholarship programmes. In 2020, financial aid totalling around two million euros was distributed to students. 77 percent of all students at the Hertie School receive partial or full scholarships (2020).

However, the university’s support programmes do not yet reach all students equally. According to the President, there is a need to catch up in terms of students’ nationalities. The largest share of students currently is from Europe, parts of Asia and North America. "We want to attract a wider group of students interested in our offerings, especially in Africa. To do this, we also need to further expand our scholarship programmes and strengthen networks with local partners," says Cornelia Woll. Education through diversity is a central component of the learning experience at the Hertie School.

More about Cornelia Woll

  • Cornelia Woll, President and Professor of International Political Economy