Goethe University is governed by a strongly democratic and inclusive process that involves faculty, students, and members of the administration and community. There are three primary governing bodies: the Executive Board, the University Council, and the Senate.
The Executive Board is made up of the President, the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, and four Vice Presidents. The Board is elected by a majority of the Wahlversammlung and is responsible for the overall management and development of the institution. A candidate for President is proposed by the extended Senate and the University Council; the latter is also involved in the election of other members of the Executive Board.
The University Council is made up of 11 highly-distinguished individuals from outside the university, including a representative of the Hessen Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and the Arts. The Council helps to appoint the Executive Board, approves the annual financial statement, and is involved in major decisions regarding foundation assets.
The Senate is made up of nine tenured professors, three students, three members of the scientific staff, and two administrative staff members.The Senate is responsible, among other things, for electing the President and the Vice Presidents; making decisions on matters related to study, research, teaching, and learning; and making recommendations on strategy and budget planning and faculty appointments.
The Board can make recommendations to the Senate on academic and other matters and serves as the chair of the Senate and Benefactors Council (an advisory board made up of major benefactors to the university). For many matters related to budget, personnel, management, and administration, the Board is expanded to include the respective Deans, as well as representatives for women, students, and the staff.
Goethe University is a Stiftungsuniversität – a university foundation under public law. The State of Hessen amended the Higher Education Act to place academic supervision within the hands of the university committees. The University Council, whose members come from outside the university, and the Economic and Finance Committee, which is ultimately responsible for business matters, act as the university's supervisory body.
The University Council has eleven members. Ten of these members are nominated as follows: by the Senate (five people), the Executive Board (four people), and the Foundation Board of Trustees (one person). They are subsequently appointed by the Hessen Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts for a term of four years. These individuals are distinguished personalities from the areas of science, business, professional practice or culture. The last member is a representative from the Ministry.
The University Council has the right of initiative regarding basic issues (university development). It advises, and assumes a controlling function in academic and economic matters. The approval of the Council is also required for development planning and discharging the Executive Board from liability.
The Economic and Finance Committee is created from the Council's members and assumes a controlling function in business matters. A representative from the Ministry of Finances sits on the committee as well. The committee's responsibilities include the confirmation of the annual financial statements and approval of the Stiftungsuniversität's investment planning, economic plan and tariff contracts.
The organs of the Stiftungsuniversität work together closely. The Executive Board and a representative from the Senate attend the University Council's meetings. The University Council chair in turn attends the Senate's meetings. The Council meets two to three times a year; the Economic and Finance Committee meets an additional four times a year.
With the goal of intensifying collaboration with other university bodies, the Council has also met with the Deans and AStA (the student body). Beyond the meetings, Council members work to promote individual topics of university development according to their individual possibilities and interests.
The University Council views the return to Stiftungsuniversität status as a milestone on the path toward a leading position in research and teaching. It supports the Executive Board in its initiative to exploit the newly gained autonomy to gain the best academics and students. Through dialogue with the other university organs and representatives of the state, who remains the most important funder, the Council introduces a neutral, third-party perspective and provides impulses. Last but not least, it is committed to integrating the Stiftungsuniversität with the citizens of Frankfurt and the region, and supports the development of a distinct university profile.
There has been no lack of challenges for the organs of the Stiftungsuniversität in recent years: elimination of tuition fees, Bologna Reform, cuts in state subsidies, University Pact 2011-2014, significant increase in number of student applications - to name only a few. It is the University Council's goal, despite these and other challenges, to successfully continue the promising development that has taken place over the past several years.
The Foundation Board of Trustees is an organ of the Stiftungsuniversität (university foundation under public law) as set forth in the Hessen Higher Education Act. By returning to its original status of Stiftungsuniversität in 2008, Goethe University once more took up the Frankfurt foundation tradition. Consequently, the Foundation Board of Trustees was constituted on 19 May 2008 with the reestablishment of the Stiftungsuniversität. Its members include the mayor of Frankfurt, and friends and benefactors of the Stiftungsuniversität who have earned special merit for the university. They are nominated by the Executive Board and appointed by the University Council for a term of five years. Frankfurt's mayor, Peter Feldmann, is the chair of the Foundation Board of Trustees.
The Executive Board is the university's managing body, and is made up of the President, four Vice Presidents and the Executive Vice President for Finances and Administration. The president is the chair of the Executive Board and has the authority to issue guidelines. The president is elected by a majority of the Wahlversammlung (elective assembly) and represents the university outwardly. The Vice President for Finances and Administration manages the university administration according to the Executive Board's guidelines and is responsible for the budget.
The duties of the Executive Board are legally set forth as follows: It is in charge of managing the university and together with the University Council and other organs fosters the faculties and their members in their internal and external development, and renders an annual account of its business management to the Senate. In addition, the Executive Board agrees on targets with the state, assigns the budgets, draws up the economic plan and approves the faculty structural plans; this is all done in consultation with the Deans.
The Executive Board can make recommendations to the Senate for introducing and eliminating degree programmes and makes decisions on establishing and eliminating scientific or technical facilities.
The Executive Board consults with the Deans (extended Executive Board) on common concerns with regard to budget, personnel, organisation and administration. Representatives for women, the student council, the staff council, and the ombudswoman for severely disabled employees may also participate.
Where the whole university comes together
The Goethe University Senate is one of the four organs of the Stiftungsuniversität (university foundation under public law) – alongside the Executive Board, the University Council and the Board of Trustees.
All university interest groups are represented in the Senate: professors, students, mid-level faculty, and administrative-technical staff. In the sense of functional self-administration, they put central university issues up for discussion and have a say in many fundamental matters.
The “extended Senate," which consists of the main members plus deputies, is of considerable importance: it is responsible for electing the president and the vice presidents.
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... is involved in fundamental decisions:
The Senate advises in matters of research, teaching and study that affect the entire university or are of fundamental importance. Together with the Executive Board, it decides the focus areas in teaching and research. The Senate also gives its opinion on the university's target agreements and its budget plan. It also determines the Grundordnung (basic statutes), in agreement with the Executive Board and with the University Council's consent. The Senate's responsibilities also include monitoring the Executive Board's management of business affairs. Its consent is required, among others, for the university's development planning and for the adoption of the economic plan. In addition, the Senate nominates five of the eleven members of the University Council.
... is made up of:
seventeen members with voting power (nine members from among the professorial staff, three students, three academic employees and two administrative-technical staff members). Additional individuals can take part in the Senate meetings in an advisory capacity. The Senate is chaired by Goethe University's President. Go to listing of current Senate members (in German).
once a month as a general rule. Beyond that, there are additional work meetings held by the respective voting group lists, as well as preliminary Senate meetings both with and without the Executive Board's participation.
... has wide-ranging options for gathering information:
To prepare its decisions, the Senate can set up commissions. This is usually where the actual discussion of issues takes place. The members of the Senate commissions do not necessarily have to belong to the Senate, but can be brought in as experts on a relevant issue. The Senate commissions advise the Senate on subjects such as the structure of professorial salaries, examination regulations and resource allocation.
Senate members also have the option of submitting written inquiries ahead of Senate meetings. This process is particularly useful for complex issues for which information needs to be collected.
The Senate receives all necessary written documents from the Gremienreferat (Committees' Department) ahead of its meetings – from information on appointments to student matters, new statutes all the way to university development plans.
Cooperation across and interconnectedness among university organs is expressly desired by the federal government, including through approval and advisory rights, and by the opportunity to give pinions. That is also why a Senate representative takes part in the meetings of the University Council – Goethe University's supervisory body – in an advisory capacity.
... is elected by the members of the university:
A new Senate is elected every two years based on lists compiled from the members of each voting group (which correspond to the university interest groups). The members of the individual interest groups can only vote for lists from their own voting group.