Information from the Rector
Circular mail from 20 May 2020
Dear employees of the university, dear students
Today I would like to thank you sincerely for your support of the fundraising campaign "GUERICKE helps!", which was initiated together with the friends and sponsors of the university, and to inform you about the pleasing results. Thanks to the commitment of numerous university members as well as several partners of the Alma Mater, we succeeded in reaching our donation goal of 50,000 Euros within only 3 weeks.
This is a sum for which I would like to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to the 420 donors who have made donations to date. No matter whether it was a small or large amount: Every euro received has helped us to support 111 students in need from all over the world with a one-off sum of 450 euros. The money will be transferred to them within the next few days.
This enormous sum is matched by well over 1200 requests and calls for help. 1200 mails or letters, which show us in a depressing way how great the hardships caused by the Corona crisis are for parts of our students, especially for our internationals.
This is why we have decided to continue even after we have reached our donation goal. Because even if normality moves into the world of work, there will still be students who, due to unfortunate circumstances, will not be able to finance their livelihood solely through student jobs or their families who do not receive support. There are many reasons for this, even beyond the Corona crisis, and they can affect anyone.
So if you have not yet had the opportunity to support our emergency relief fund, I would like to encourage you to visit the website, get informed and make a small or even larger contribution to our community work. Every Euro counts!
At this point I would like to thank you for your commitment - also on behalf of the entire university management and the Board of the Association of Friends and Sponsors.
I wish you all the best for the coming days and weeks: Stay healthy!
Prof. Jens Strackeljan
Circular mail from 17 April 2020
Dear employees and students,
After nearly four weeks, the German federal and state governments have started to gradually relax the measures put in place to combat the coronavirus outbreak in Germany. All of us have been awaiting these decisions with great excitement and some of you may have been hoping for more. The 4th Corona Containment Ordinance in Saxony-Anhalt will permit schools and certain shops to reopen on a very limited basis next week . But what will this relaxation mean for everyday university life on campus?
Firstly, the scheduled full launch of the online courses as of the 20th of April will go ahead as planned. There will be some minor simplifications for on-campus exams and exam preparations, but all these are still exceptions. Our assumption is that it will be possible to carry out on-campus activities, such as laboratory training or minor activities in smaller groups, in addition to online teaching and in compliance with the hygiene and social-distancing rules as of the 4th of May 2020. At least this is the procedure that the Minister of Science. Prof. Dr. Armin Willingmann and the state's universities have agreed.
This also means that, subject to hygiene, access control and queue avoidance provisions, we will be able reopen the University Library to the public. We also envisage a certain amount of relaxation at both the Campus Service Center and the International Office. Specific procedures are currently being worked out and will be communicated in a timely manner, but in this case too we are not expecting to start before the 4th of May 2020. Further details will be regulated in a decree from the state Ministry of Economics, Science and Digitisation, to which we will contribute with some of our own concepts.
Once again, it is particularly important to emphasise the fact that students will not be disadvantaged by these restrictions, for example if courses need to be cancelled or if they are unable to use the online services we are providing. University of Magdeburg will be flexible in terms of the semester dates and will take decisions that are in the best interests of our students. In terms of BAföG (the German Federal Training Assistance Act) or with regard to any study delays due to COVID-19 that result in students exceeding the standard study period, continued funding will be ensured for an appropriate period of time.
The second important point to note, particularly for employees, is that the strict hygiene and social distancing rules (1.5 metres between any two people) that have been in force up to now will continue to apply without change. The Federal Ministry of Labour has now adopted a Covid-19 occupational health and safety standard, which regulates the return of employees to their places of work. Naturally, this standard also applies to the OVGU and we will now come together to put plans in place for all areas of the university to significantly increase the proportion of attendance in relation to mobile work.
Taking personal responsibility during the coming weeks will also mean that anybody with recognisable symptoms, such as slight fever, flu-like symptoms or shortness of breath will have to leave the workplace and stay at home until such times as a doctor clears them to return to work.
In conclusion, let us continue to go forward together with new ideas to get through this unusual but by no means lost summer semester 2020 at the University of Magdeburg.
Circular mail from 7 April 2020
I hope you all began your week in good health and have been able to adjust to the new and, for all of us, unfamiliar circumstances whether on campus or in your home offices. We would like to give you a brief update on major events planned at the OVGU for 2020.
As you may have seen either in our newsletter or our press release published in the local media, our Alumni Day 2020, which had been scheduled for the 6th of June, has been postponed to an as yet unspecified date, which will hardly have come as a great surprise given the current situation. Nevertheless, for those alumni who would have been receiving their golden or silver diplomas to mark the 50th or 25th graduation anniversaries respectively, the postponement is a regrettable albeit understandable decision. Yet postponed is not cancelled: new plans are already in hand and we hope to be able to reschedule this special "class reunion" before the end of the year.
For the first time in over 14 years, the Long Night of the Sciences will also suffer an involuntary interruption: this event, which had also been planned for the 6th of June 2020 has had to be cancelled and will not be rescheduled. However, a date has already been set for the coming year and so, together with the City of Magdeburg and the other science institutes, we will have the opportunity to celebrate the 15th Long Night of the Sciences in a fitting manner on the 29th of May 2021.
In addition to the events mention above, our traditional "Super Saturday" programme, which is essentially shaped by our Course Information Day, also cannot and will not take place as scheduled on the 6th of June 2020 due to the current circumstances. In the absence of these tried and trusted approaches and given the unfortunate need to jettison proven processes and concepts at such short notice, alternative information channels and innovative formats are required to provide prospective students both within the state and beyond with information about the OVGU and our various programmes of study. We’ll need novel concepts and a great deal of commitment, which is why a focused exchange of ideas between the university management, MKM (Media, Communication, Marketing), the faculties and the central services must begin within the next few days. For one thing is clear: achieving higher education policy goals and attracting students will be no easy task for the OVGU under the current framework conditions. We will inevitably feel the consequences of the coronavirus crisis particularly when it comes to enrolling international students.
Yet, notwithstanding the challenges and tasks ahead of us, I would like to encourage all of you to play an active part in overcoming them, to step outside of your familiar comfort zones in a spirit of courage and optimism and, together, to dare to do something new. You can rely on the full support of the university management.
Despite the difficult times, I wish you and your families a Happy Easter!
Circular mail from 23 March 2020
Dear staff and students of the University of Magdeburg,
For some weeks now, the coronavirus has been challenging the day-to-day lives of our families as well as life and work at the University of Magdeburg, calling for decisions that seemed unthinkable just a few months ago. Yesterday, the state of Saxony-Anhalt imposed further restrictions in the form of contact restrictions, which should help to contain the epidemic, but which have an enormous impact on living and working together and require adaptation of previous forms of organization. Physical and social contacts must be kept to an absolute minimum.
What does this mean for the University of Magdeburg?
The most important thing: Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg is not closed! Within just a few days, we switched from normal operation to reduced basic operation. The university library is still running with a reduced service, refectories and cafeterias are closed, rules regarding working from home and working outside the university have been largely defined and implemented. We have agreed on a very high degree of flexibility, permitting staff to work from home wherever work can be performed outside the university.
After yesterday’s stipulations by the federal state, we have agreed to change the current status of our university to basic operation with minimum contact. Unfortunately, this means that specific rules are required here to ensure that flexible working is possible, for instance, in alternating shifts. It must be ensured that colleagues and supervisors can be reached, also when working from home.
The administration has defined core processes, so that new staff will be recruited, employment contracts renewed, appointments issued, invoices settled and salaries will continue to be paid.
The research laboratories in the faculties are still open, detailed agreements on the organization of tasks in research and teaching are being made independently by the deans following consultation with the university management. The central institutions are ensuring minimum operation and guaranteeing cooperation with the university administration and the President’s office by deploying on-site personnel to take care of essential tasks.
However, the University Medical Center cannot be transferred to basic operation. They are, and this should be expressly noted here, facing quite different challenges that must be overcome. The situation is changing rapidly and, if necessary, agreements on flexible working will have to be changed again. But this does not only apply to employees of the Medical Faculty and the University Hospital, but also to all employees of Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg.
Nevertheless, we have found answers to the most important questions in a very short time and for this I would like to thank all those who have supported the university management and the administration! The President’s office and the crisis unit acted swiftly in coordination with the deans and the Senate and in close consultation with the Conference of the Rectors of the Federal State (Landesrektorenkonferenz). You can find the latest answers to questions arising from the new situation in the Document entitled ‘Information to ensure basic operation with minimum contact’.
Dear students, we know only all too well that the situation is extremely difficult for you at the moment. Uncertainties about exam dates, the loss of student jobs or limited use of the university library have become the norm. However, one of the biggest challenges and priorities for all of us in the coming weeks is to prepare for what will very likely be a ‘virtual’ summer semester. I can promise you that we will do everything we can to find sound solutions and I assure you that you will not suffer any disadvantages.
Our university is proud of its high degree of internationalization. But this also comes with great responsibility for our students, which is certainly another major challenge in times of a pandemic that is spreading around the globe.
One thing's for sure: Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg depends on the commitment, cooperation and collaboration of all, and the current problems and challenges can only be mastered in collective responsibility and solidarity. Therefore, we ask that you inform yourself, pay attention to each other, help each other and above all: Stay healthy!