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The University of Freiburg mourns Gunther Neuhaus

Neuhaus, Prorector for Research and Innovation for many years, has passed away at the age of 67

Freiburg, Jul 12, 2021

Professor Gunther Neuhaus played a key role in the development of the University of Freiburg from 2012 to 2020 – as Prorector for Research and Innovation and from 2014 as Vice-Rector. In 2018, the university was successful in the Excellence Strategy with two clusters of excellence, which Neuhaus, a biologist, strongly supported.

Photo:Sandra Meyndt

It was only a few days ago – on July 7, 2021 – that the University of Freiburg awarded the University Medal to Gunther Neuhaus at the Dies Universitatis in recognition of his many years of service. He was not able to attend the ceremony in person. “Gunther Neuhaus has done great things for the University of Freiburg,” says Rector Professor Kerstin Krieglstein. “He was a mainstay of the university and in his two terms of office he promoted excellent research in Freiburg and left a lasting mark. My heartfelt condolences now go out to his family.” 

Until his retirement at the end of September 2020, Gunther Neuhaus as Prorector was responsible for research strategy and direction – including the two clusters of excellence successfully acquired by the University of Freiburg – third-party funding, quality management, and the promotion of cooperative research structures. He was instrumental in transforming the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) into a sustainably visible platform for top research, international exchange, and interdisciplinarity that enjoys considerable recognition. Working with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, he helped to establish the Sustainability Center and the Institute of Sustainable Technical Systems (INATECH) – an alliance between a university and Fraunhofer unique in Germany.

Neuhaus was not only known for the offices he held and the valuable work he did; at the Faculty of Biology, he was also popular among students for his appearances at parties – later, the Vice-Rector got the University of Freiburg employees dancing at the staff council summer party as “DJ Gunther”.

Gunther Neuhaus was born in Linz, Austria. He began his studies in Biology at the University of Salzburg in 1974 and completed his doctorate in 1980. After writing his habilitation thesis at the ETH Zürich in Switzerland, he held a number of professional positions, including at Rockefeller University, New York, USA, and at the University of Singapore. In 1995, Neuhaus accepted a professorship in Cell Biology at the University of Freiburg. From 1998 to 2011, he headed the Center for Applied Biosciences. In 2012 he was elected full-time Prorector for Research, and was re-elected in 2018. Neuhaus was a member of the Leopoldina National Academy of Sciences and Humanities.