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About fortune in change

4/2/2019

It was not the official motto for the celebrations but somehow still remained a central theme of the evening: fortune and change. On April 2, 2019, the outgoing Interim Director of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) Prof. Dr. Sabine Weinert passed the symbolic baton to the new Director Prof. Dr. Cordula Artelt—a day of joy and change.

Photo: Prof. Dr. Sabine Weinert (left) symbolically passed the flower-decorated baton to Prof. Dr. Cordula Artelt.
Photo: Prof. Dr. Sabine Weinert (left) symbolically passed the flower-decorated baton to Prof. Dr. Cordula Artelt.  

For the Executive Director of Research Dr. Jutta von Maurice, fortune is to be found in the lucky symbol of the—obviously four-leafed—cloverleaf, which is now complete. Together with the Executive Director of Administration Dr. Robert Polgar, she welcomed about 140 guests in the festive halls of the Institute’s home at Wilhelmsplatz and led them through the evening. According to her, the cloverleaves consist of four people who had already found each other in the German Research Foundation’s (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) group of researchers entitled BiKS (“Bildungsprozesse, Kompetenzentwicklung und Selektionsentscheidungen im Vorschul- und Schulalter/Educational processes, competence development and selection decisions in preschool- and school age”) prior to the establishment of the National Education Panel Study (NEPS), and who had all shaped the development of both NEPS and LIfBi: In addition to Sabine Weinert and Cordula Artelt, these were Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans-Peter Blossfeld and Prof. Dr. Hans-Günther Roßbach.

“Luck has been long time coming, but: good things do take time,” said Prof. Dr. Marlis Buchmann, Chair of the Board of Trustees. In her address, she explained why the Institute had had a lucky hand with the appointment of the Interim Director and the new Director: “Sabine Weinert did not have an easy task, yet she mastered the balancing act of further developing the young Institute without forestalling too much and without carving any decisions in stone.” Sabine Weinert has rendered great services to the LIfBi and, quite rightly so, was the desired candidate for the interim management—as was Cordula Artelt for the new appointment. In Professor Artelt, the Institute has gained an outstanding scientist with highest international acclaim who “understands the strengths and perhaps also the weaknesses of the Institute”, so Buchmann said. Due to her professorship she knows the procedures at the University of Bamberg and due to her position as Head of Department she also knows how the LIfBi works. Furthermore, she uses NEPS data herself for her own research. “In addition to all these diverse perspectives, she also brings with her the qualities of an organizer and manager—and yes, change manager.”

Farewell to the grande dame of educational research

Greetings from the University of Bamberg were delivered by the Deputy Chair of the Senate Prof. Dr. Guido Heineck, who—for just a short while—left his seat on the drums beside his colleague on the trombone, Prof. Dr. Claus H. Carstensen, and improvised on the microphone instead. He told the audience about the change he had been able to observe in Cordula Artelt over the last few years. He was highly pleased that the then convinced utterance “I can never imagine this position for myself” had turned into the words of a Director who is as convinced as she is convincing today, according to the Scientific Head of the NEPS working unit “Returns to Education Across the Life Course”.

Ministerialrat Dr. Georg Brun, who conveyed best wishes on behalf of the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts explained that he also sees continuity in change: He said goodbye to Sabine Weinert as a “helper in need, a grande dame of educational research and developmental psychology, a cofounder of NEPS,” yet still knowing that her “youthful creative spirit” as a scientist would fortunately remain with the Institute. He felt that he could not really welcome the new Director, because “she is already here. She has been associated with the NEPS from the very beginning and she did not hesitate to take on responsibility in the early years of the LIfBi.” Brun described Artelt as a researcher “with great passion and creative power.” Katrin Wery, Oberregierungsrätin and representative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), thanked Sabine Weinert for her willingness to take over the interim management during turbulent times of change—referring to the upcoming evaluation as well as the new NEPS cohorts—and wished the new Director a “lucky hand in all decisions.”

Prof. Dr. Matthias Kleiner, President of the Leibniz Association, was also involved in the ceremony via video greeting. He emphasized the Institute’s rapid founding history emerging from a project within only five years. “This is a record story within the Leibniz Association”, said Kleiner. He thanked Sabine Weinert for the preparations for the first evaluation of the LIfBi, and wished Cordula Artelt “much strength, skill, and eventually, of course, success.”

On behalf of all employees, four persons bid farewell to Sabine Weinert and welcomed Cordula Artelt at the same time. Head of the Junior Research Group, Dr. Ilka Wolter, thanked Sabine Weinert for “taking on three jobs at the same time.” Prof. Dr. Michael Bayer, Head of the Research Unit “Personality”, explained how much he had learned to appreciate the task-oriented nature of Sabine Weinert, who had allowed a “discourse free from domination”: “Dear Mrs. Artelt, I hope we can continue to fight hard for the truth in a discursive space that is also free from domination.”

On behalf of all doctoral candidates, Kathrin Thums welcomed the new Director and looked forward to the future exchange after the new start. Chair of the Works Council Dr. Michaela Sixt was pleased that a long-term perspective will now enable good cooperation that—under good care—will grow, as it were, like a vine. “We are in the starting blocks and we are ready to run off along with you,” she promised.

The right balance between continuity and change

Sabine Weinert also expected changes for her own future, above all: having more time again for her research, her University Chair, and for her family. She symbolically passed on the flower-decorated baton to her successor. Cordula Artelt is going to shape the Institute with the right balance between continuity and necessary change, because “past behavior is the best indicator for future behavior,” according to the developmental psychologist.

Panta rhei—the essence of being is change, explained the protagonist of the evening, Cordula Artelt. She took up the observation of her previous speaker Guido Heineck about her statement that she never wanted to become a Director. Artelt told the audience about her personal connection to NEPS and LIfBi: How she first heard of the idea in 2005, her appointment to Bamberg, the successful founding of NEPS, her decision to become Head of Department (“it’s all or nothing at all”), and how she took the first steps from the “confessing non-doer” to second line of responsibility and finally to Director. “This is the right position for me at the right time,” she explained. “We will raise our profile even further in the future and increase our visibility; the conditions are right. Let’s fly!”

 

(Photos: Benjamin Herges/50millimeter-film&fotografie)