The Rector’s Column I 31.03.2021
The PLUS has experienced a year of many changes: some unplanned (with positive results), such as the major step towards the digitalisation of university operations as a result of the Corona pandemic. Other changes were initiated with a clear goal in mind. In the second half of last year, a concept for a structural reform was developed. After numerous productive discussions and valuable inputs, this concept was then defined in more concrete terms in the development plan.
The University is now faced with the indisputably ambitious task of putting these changes into practice. The entire Rectorate Team would like to see the now approved structure implemented in an efficient, transparent and, above all, participatory manner. This transition and implementation process will therefore be professionally overseen by an external organisational development company. In a change management process, the aim is to work together with a large and representative number of groups throughout the PLUS to continue to build trust and develop content, which will promote dialogue within the University and simultaneously build commitment. This will be a challenging task. It is now most important that Iask you for your cooperation in this important project, which is the key to its success.
Another key milestone is an evaluation of the faculties, focus areas and centres. This process is necessary to identify the individual (and common) strengths of these organisational units, and to align their work with the overall goals of the university. This process is particularly important for the newly founded or newly constituted faculties to define tasks and perspectives both in and for research and teaching.
Along with organisational changes, which the PLUS plans to implement on 1 January 2022, the University’s structural development is also a topic of conversation in the Rectorate. The University of Salzburg is not a campus university. There are numerous sites not only in Salzburg’s historic centre, but also throughout the entire city. We are beginning to think about consolidating the individual locations to improve the work situation for the scientific and admin staff.. This should also serve to support the construction of the new science-led University structure. This is a major and very long-term project that we would like to undertake together with you all, and we will discuss separately in greater detail.
In addition to implementing the well-known changes in the PLUS’s structure, many task forces (TFs) and working groups are currently collaborating on important projects to make the PLUS more attractive both as an employer and as a place to study. These are now also visible on our intranet pages (in German). The Telework working group have drawn up a company agreement on remote working for general University staff, which came into force in April 2021. The TF “Performance-Based Funding” (LoM) is also working on a model for subject-specific incentives and individual assessments. The TF for “Digitalisation” will draft and then implement measures for digital transformation in research, teaching and governance; the “Staff Development” task force is dedicated to career development opportunities for academic and administrative staff. The “Library” task force aim to optimise the resources available in the various library locations, considering the interests of students and staff; they are currently focussing on identifying the potential for learning spaces for students in the library areas. The working group “Student City” is compiled by stakeholders from Salzburg’s higher education community and the City of Salzburg. It has set itself the goal of making Salzburg more attractive as a student destination. The results from the work in these task forces and working groups will be reported on in detail. Finally, we would like to mention the “Anniversary Committee”, which is preparing the 400th anniversary of the PLUS, which will be celebrated next year in 2022. The next Rector’s Column will cover the anniversary and the planned activities in more detail. This is something to look forward to after a very busy year, and I am already very excited to celebrate this momentous occasion with everyone.
2021 will no doubt be a challenging year in which we will have to master some demanding tasks. It is just as certain, however, that we can and will overcome these challenges together as the PLUS. I would therefore like to ask for your support once again and invite you to contact me with any concerns regarding the change management process. I will be very happy to discuss these with you personally and am grateful for any feedback you may have.