The Board of Trustees of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has elected Prof. Thomas Hofmann (50) as the new President of TUM. The experienced university manager has held the position of Senior Vice President Research and Innovation at TUM since 2009. He made a significant contribution to TUM’s success in the Excellence Initiative, especially in developing the internationally acclaimed “TUM Faculty Tenure Track” recruitment and career system. Under his guidance, TUM also became Germany’s top university for the establishment of start-ups. The holder of the Chair of Food Chemistry and Molecular Sensory Science has received multiple awards for his research and teaching. On October 1, 2019, Hofmann will take over from Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, whose far-reaching reforms in his 23-year tenure saw TUM rise to international top level.
Today’s vote by the Board of Trustees elected Prof. Thomas Hofmann to the six-year presidential term starting October 1, 2019. TUM’s Board of Trustees is made up of ten elected members of the Senate and ten external members from the worlds of science, business and politics.
“The Board of Trustees has succeeded in winning an internationally acclaimed scientist and experienced university manager as the next president of TUM. I am delighted about the nomination of Professor Thomas Hofmann and look forward to working with him,” says Prof. Otmar Wiestler, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and President of the Helmholtz Association.
Success in the Excellence Initiative
When he assumes his new office, Thomas Hofmann will have spent ten years in the role of Senior Vice President in charge of research and innovation. TUM has achieved several outstanding successes in this time, notably in the 2012 German Excellence Initiative. The centerpiece of its institutional strategy as a University of Excellence was the new “TUM Faculty Tenure Track” recruitment and career system. Hofmann played a major role in the design and implementation of this system, which became the gold standard in German academia as it gives young scientists genuine career progression opportunities as well as early academic freedom. Since then, TUM has made around 100 Tenure Track appointments, drawing talent from the best research institutes in the world. Another 40 professorships were awarded to TUM under the 2017 federal and state tenure track program.
TUM ranks as one of Europe’s leading research universities, thanks not least to its successful management to support applications for funding. During Hofmann’s term as Vice President, TUM received almost 100 ERC Grants, which are among the highest-endowed research grants available in Europe. TUM and its partners were awarded funding for several Clusters of Excellence both in 2012 and in the recent round of funding last month. In 2016, in his role as Chairman of a European consortium, Hofmann himself led the winning team for the “EIT FOOD” Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) competition held by the European Institute of Technology, which unites around 50 partners from science and industry.
Game-changing industry partnerships and start-up support
Hoffmann’s success in securing long-term framework agreements with industry players, including alliances with top global innovators like the recent Google win, has been a game-changer. Hofmann was also a driving force behind the “Industry on Campus” strategy, which invites companies like Siemens and SAP onto the Garching campus for research collaborations.
Under Hofmann’s leadership, TUM became a leading university in entrepreneurship. Around 70 new tech spin-offs are now established here every year, making TUM Germany’s number one university for start-up founders according to the relevant rankings.
Research and teaching in food chemistry
The future President obtained the Chair of Food Chemistry at the University of Münster in 2002. In 2007, he was appointed to TUM’s new Chair of Food Chemistry and Molecular Sensory Science. He turned down an offer from ETH Zurich at the time. Since 2015, Hofmann has held the position of Co-Director of the Bavarian Center for Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry (BayBioMS) at TUM, and he has been the Director of the TUM-affiliated Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology since 2017.
The 50-year-old’s research and teaching focus on the substances in plants and processed foods that are relevant for the human senses of taste and smell and for human metabolism. The scope of his work ranges from biomolecular basic research to the development of analysis methods for industry. Hofmann’s research has received international acclaim and he has played a major role in shaping the food chemistry study programs at TUM.
Succeeding the longest-serving university president in Germany
Thomas Hofmann will replace Wolfgang A. Herrmann (70), the longest-serving university president in Germany, on the TUM Board of Management on October 1, 2019. Since he took office in 1995, Herrmann has transformed TUM into the “Entrepreneurial University” and a driver of reform in the management of science and research in Germany. “Thomas Hofmann is an invaluable asset for TUM and the German higher education system,” declared Herrmann. “He will steer our university smoothly towards its future with his own particular entrepreneurial priorities. The institutional strategy underpinning the upcoming Excellence Initiative has already been strongly shaped by the new President. TUM is ready to hand the baton to the next generation in its usual efficient manner.”