Rubrik: Campus Life
Election by the Swiss Federal Council
Ralph Eichler is the new President of ETH Zurich
Published: 07.06.2007 06:00
Modified: 06.06.2007 22:58
(per) In its session on Wednesday 30 May 2007 the Swiss Federal Council elected the physicist Ralph Eichler to be the new President of ETH Zurich. In so doing it followed the ETH Zurich Board’s suggestion. He takes up his office on 1 September 2007.
Federal Council Member Couchepin said at the media conference that Eichler had the Swiss Federal Council’s full confidence. His experience as a researcher and as head of the Paul Scherrer Institute qualified Ralph Eichler in the best possible way for his new task as President of ETH Zurich. Eichler characterised himself as team-oriented and solution-oriented, and also plans to introduce this culture into ETH Zurich.
Ralph Eichler was born on 31.12.1947 in Guildford (England). He is Swiss, his home town is Basel-Stadt and he is married with three children. After completing his education at Basel Grammar School, he graduated in Physics at ETH Zurich (Dept. IX) and gained his doctorate at ETH Zurich in 1976. After that he was a Postdoctoral Fellow for two years at Stanford University, USA. In 1979 he took up a position as a scientist in the DESY (German Electron Synchrotron) major research centre near Hamburg. He returned to ETH Zurich in 1982 as a scientist at the Institute for Medium-Energy Physics, where he was appointed Professor in 1986.
Ralph Eichler was invited to take up a C4 Professorship at the University of Heidelberg in 1988 but did not accept it because he was elected associate Professor for Physics at ETH Zurich in 1989. He was appointed as a full Professor at ETH Zurich in 1993. Since 1992 he has been involved scientifically in the H1 Collaboration, a major experiment in the area of High Energy Physics at the DESY in Hamburg. In the years 1995–1997 he was Scientific Director of this Collaboration, which comprises about 400 scientists. Ralph Eichler is a member of numerous international scientific committees.
In 1998 Ralph Eichler was appointed Deputy Director and in 2002 Director of the Paul Scherrer Institute, and is thus also a member of the ETH Zurich Board.
Ralph Eichler says “I am looking forward to my new task and will certainly devote myself with great commitment to the interests of ETH Zurich in this situation, which is certainly not easy.” He has been associated with ETH Zurich for decades, including as Professor for Physics since 1989. “I know this Institution extremely well.”
The first phase will consist of the new President assembling his management team and getting to know the needs of the students and of the staff. Wherever attitudes have hardened, he plans to find a way back to a dialogue characterised by calmness and common sense. “I mean the dialogue between ETH Zurich and the ETH Board, as well as the dialogue between the individual Institutions of the ETH Domain.”
Eichler says it will be hard fought sometimes when finances are involved. That is unavoidable, a fact he is well aware of as the head of the largest research institute. “Because it is entirely right for there to be a certain amount of healthy competition between the individual institutions within the ETH Domain.”
He says that as President of ETH Zurich he will also exert himself with all his strength and above all with good arguments to obtain the funding this top-class institution of higher education needs to fulfil its great variety of duties. “These discussions must take place and they must be decided – and of course I hope that I will be able to put forward the very best arguments thanks to the professorate’s innovative ideas.”
Apart from that, Ralph Eichler says he wishes to maintain intensive co-operation within the ETH Domain and within the network of Swiss research. He says the task is to ensure that Switzerland as a whole can improve even further its current outstandingly good position on the world map of research and education. “Because the competition is breathing down our necks,” is his warning.