About the people

Prof Dr Ralf Grüttemeier has been a professor of Dutch literature at the university since 1997. His research focusses on Dutch literary history and the relationship between law and literature. In 2010, the university honoured him with the "Teaching Prize". Grüttemeier was Dean of Faculty III Linguistics and Cultural Studies from 2005 to 2007 and from 2017 to 2019.

Prof Dr Andrea Strübind has been a university lecturer in Church History and Historical Theology since 2006. From 2013 to 2017, Strübind was Dean of Faculty IV Humanities and Social Sciences, and since 2017 she has been Director of the Institute for Protestant Theology and Religious Education. She is an internal member of the University Council, a central advisory and supervisory body of the university, and is also Chair of the Intercultural Jewish Studies Centre.

Prof Dr Katharina Al-Shamery has been a university lecturer in physical chemistry since 1999 and heads the Nanophotonics and Interfacial Chemistry working group. She was Vice President for Research from 2010 to 2014 and also took over the office of President on an interim basis for a year and a half in 2014. The award-winning scientist holds a variety of functions and offices and is in demand both nationally and internationally as an expert, for example at the German Research Foundation or the European Research Council and for ten years as a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.


Prof Dr Ralf Grüttemeier

+49 (0)441 798-5456

Prof Dr Katharina Al-Shamery

+49 (0)441 798-5459

Prof Dr Andrea Strübind

+49 (0)441 798-5458


  • Seit hundert Tagen im Amt: Vizepräsident für Forschung und Transfer Prof. Dr. Ralf Grüttemeier, Vizepräsidentin für Akademische Karrierewege, Chancengleichheit und Internationalies Prof. Dr. Katharina Al-Shamery und Vizepräsidentin für Studium und Lehre Prof. Dr. Andrea Strübind. Fotos: Universität Oldenburg / Daniel Schmidt

Listening, exchanging, developing

One hundred days in office: chemist Katharina Al-Shamery, theologian Andrea Strübind and literary scholar Ralf Grüttemeier joined the Presidential Board at the beginning of the year. Here they share their motivations and plans.

One hundred days in office: chemist Katharina Al-Shamery, theologian Andrea Strübind and literary scholar Ralf Grüttemeier joined the University's Presidential Board at the beginning of the year. Here they share their motivations and plans.

Strengthening interdisciplinary cooperation

Anticipation - that's the first word that comes to mind when Prof. Dr. Ralf Grüttemeier thinks about his two-year term as Vice-President for Research and Transfer. " I'm eager to get to know new areas of work and new people, and to gain an insight into how the university works as a whole," says the Dutchman.

Grüttemeier, who has been a professor at the university since 1997, has held numerous positions in academic self-governance: He has been Dean of Faculty III twice, Vice-Dean on several occasions and Director of the Institute for Dutch Studies. As Vice-President, the native Rhinelander intends to focus on two areas: Firstly, he wants to raise the profile of the humanities and social sciences in Oldenburg. "We do excellent work in this area, and we can be really proud of it," he says. His declared aim is to draw more attention to the broad spectrum of this research, both internally and externally.

Grüttemeier also wants to strengthen the interdisciplinary dialogue between the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences - interdisciplinarity has traditionally played an important role in Oldenburg. "I am convinced that even closer cooperation between the natural sciences and the humanities and social sciences is necessary in order to cope with the changes facing our society," he explains. He sees the participation of linguistics in the Hearing4All excellence cluster as an example of particularly successful collaboration. "One task would be to see to what extent this model can be used in other areas," he says, also referring to the next round of the Excellence Strategy, in which the university is competing with several applications.

In the coming weeks, Grüttemeier intends to engage in intensive dialogue with the faculties to see how the Presidential Board can support them even more in these areas. From his time as Dean, the 62-year-old has learnt that a lot can be achieved by listening: "It's important to listen to different perspectives, to weigh up arguments and needs in order to ultimately make decisions that are in everyone's best interest."

What else?

Your favourite place in Oldenburg?

The Brookdeich on the River Hunte.

What makes you laugh?

Monty Python. And the Dutch writer Gerard Reve because of his self-irony and mixture of linguistic registers.

Mountains or sea?

There is a time for the mountains and a time for the sea. In summer, I love hiking in the Alps.

What's your favourite way to get around?

By bike.

How would you describe university to strangers in three words?

Truth, creativity, balance of interests.

Do you have a motto?

The Cologne rule 'Et hätt noch noch jot jejange', which translates roughly as: It will be fine...

Enabling reliable career paths

Mrs Al-Shamery, you have already been Acting President of the University and Vice President for Research and Transfer. What motivated you to take on a position again?

I would like to help develop our university into an institution of excellence. I think we still have a lot to do in terms of equality and diversity. Women in particular are disproportionately likely to leave academia. I think that has a lot to do with the academic culture. If we want to build a diverse university, we need to create a socially safe environment in which mental health plays an important role.

What do you mean by a good academic culture?

Important aspects are an appreciative culture of dialogue that recognises what we have achieved together, and a good management culture with flat hierarchies. We should also think about our "unconscious bias", for example in appointment committees. The previous Presidential Board has already initiated a lot with the equality plan and the work on the diversity strategy, which we will implement and develop further. Ultimately, the aim is to create an atmosphere in which interdisciplinary dialogue is seen as exciting. This is important to all of us on the Board.

How can the university promote academic careers?

We need to ask ourselves how we can facilitate reliable career paths within the existing job structure, unlike in the past. Clearly defined stages and tenure at an early stage are conceivable. This would also help women to pursue an academic career. We also need to develop good prospects for mid-level academic staff.

Your responsibilities include international matters. What is important to you here?

Our immense social challenges can only be solved in an international context: we can only achieve the United Nations' sustainability goals if we work hand in hand with people from different backgrounds. We also need to attract skilled workers to the region, including from abroad. That is why I welcome projects that aim to train international students for the labour market here, as well as leaders who want to work in their home countries to develop a sustainable world.

What have you learnt in your previous positions that is important now?

In my experience, it is important to be well informed so that you are not surprised by certain issues. It is also important to find a balance between the need to bring issues to the university and involve as many people as possible, and the need for efficiency.

What else?

Your favourite place in Oldenburg?

My office, when I can chat with my colleagues.

What makes you laugh?

Myself - when I've done something stupid.

Your favourite fictional hero or heroine?

Not fictional characters: the aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart or the writer Virginia Woolf.

Mountains or the sea?

The sea - I grew up on the coast, the mountains imprison me.

What is your favourite way to get around?

If I had to choose: swimming.

How would you describe the university to a stranger in three words?

Short distances, no my-home-is-my-castle mentality, pioneering role - for example in sustainability.

Your motto?

Carpe diem. My former chemistry teacher wrote that in a letter to me. It really touched me. It inspired me to study chemistry.

Promoting a study culture of mutual respect

"For me, a central element that defines a university - and our university in particular - is the culture of study. Ever since it was founded 50 years ago, the University of Oldenburg has been striving to create a culture of research-based learning - with a view beyond subject boundaries, practical and project-oriented, characterised by cooperation between teachers and students and the endeavour to critically accompany and reduce educational inequalities.

The covid-19 pandemic has changed a lot since then, and we are also witnessing an increasing polarisation of society. That is why it is important for me, together with the members of the university, to revive this culture of study. That we reflect on a culture of study that, in addition to all the professionalism, once again includes more interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange on socially relevant issues. A study culture of mutual respect and cooperation, in which we consciously create space for creative thinking, also for joint struggles.

This begs the question: How do we design courses that are often tightly scheduled around exams? How can we emphasise the value of learning in person, through exchange and free communication?

In my opinion, we should not only constantly expand the mix and variability of teaching formats, but as lecturers we should also consciously create current references and emphasise the social relevance of the course content. I could imagine a kind of mentoring programme at the beginning of the course to show all first-year students what it means to study - also for their own lifestyle and personal attitude. Conversely, as a university and as lecturers, we need to better understand and adapt to students' social media-driven lives.

The educational mission of the university includes not only the technical aspects but also the personal development of the students. Ideally, they not only train their critical-analytical judgement and - very importantly - their digital skills, but also strengthen their ability to mediate, for example in conflicts between different social groups, genders, religions or ethnicities. After all, the young people who study today will help shape tomorrow's society.”

What else?

Your favourite place in Oldenburg?

I love going to the horse market on Saturdays, to the weekly market. I like cooking, so I love the market, and I enjoy the seasonal change of produce. You also meet the whole university there (laughs)!

What makes you laugh?

Good political cabaret.

What is your favourite fictional hero or heroine?

Babette in "Babette's Feast" (or "Babette's Banquet") by Tanja Blixen.

Mountains or sea?

The sea, especially in Provence.

How would you describe the university to a stranger in three words?

Lovely. Open-minded. Unconventional.

Your motto?

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

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