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Rubrik: Campus Life

New challenge for the outgoing ETH Zurich Rector
From ETH Zurich to UNO

Published: 24.05.2007 06:00
Modified: 24.05.2007 06:17
Konrad Osterwalder, Rector of ETH Zurich, has been appointed the fifth Rector of the UNU (United Nations University) by UNO General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, as announced at the United Nations headquarters on Wednesday. The appointment of the ETH Zurich Rector, which is a great honour, is the result of an international search for candidates.

Katrin la Roi

“ETH Life” reported in early March that Konrad Osterwalder was well placed in the running for the office of Rector of the UNO University(1) in Tokyo (2) . Yesterday the UNO announced that General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, in agreement with Koichiro Matsuura, General Secretary of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Communications Organization) (3) , had appointed Osterwalder.

A think-tank for the UNO

The UNU is a decentralised international network of scientists that acts as a think-tank for the UNO to resolve acute global questions such as environmental problems and sustainable development. The UNU system comprises 13 research and training centres throughout the world, and in addition the UNU collaborates with research institutions and scientists from more than 90 countries.

To Tokyo with Swiss support

Konrad Osterwalder accepted the choice gladly: “I look forward very much to this big challenge and am certain it will lead to intensive collaboration between the UNU and ETH Zurich, as well as with the other Swiss universities.” The newly elected Rector said he was convinced this would definitely contribute to strengthening Switzerland’s image as a land of education and research. Osterwalder stressed that the Swiss diplomatic services in Bern, Paris und New York had worked in an exemplary manner throughout the entire election process.

Will be the future head of the United Nations University in Tokyo: Konrad Osterwalder

Osterwalder was born in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, in 1942 and studied Physics ETH Zurich, where he gained his doctorate in 1970 with a thesis on a fundamental mathematical problem in elementary particle physics. This was followed by several years in the USA as a post-doc at New York University and later as a scientist, Assistant Professor and Associate Professor at Harvard University, before being appointed full Professor for Mathematics at ETH Zurich in 1977. Osterwalder has held the office of Rector of ETH Zurich since 1995, and has at the same time headed the Institution since late 2006 as President pro tempore. He is a member of the supervisory boards of various European universities and is Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Technical University of Darmstadt. Konrad Osterwalder will relinquish his official positions at ETH Zurich on reaching retirement age this year.

The ETH Zurich Rector emeritus is expected to take over as head of the United Nations University (UNU) in September 2007.

(1 "ETH Life" report "Konrad Osterwalder als UNU-Rektor bei der UNO?": (
(2 United Nations University: (
(3 Unesco: (

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