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uni'alumni 2013_ENG

He has had a career with many high- lights. The shortest of them all was no doubt his tenure as Rector of the University of Freiburg. In an interview with Rimma Gerenstein, Prof. Dr. Andreas Voßkuhle talks about his time as rector, his role as President of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, and the hobby he had to give up when he accepted the latter post. uni’alumni: President Voßkuhle, you served as Rector of the University of Freiburg from April to May 2008. What memories do you have of that time? Andreas Voßkuhle: It was an immense- ly exciting time. The actual work didn’t begin when I took office but earlier, after my election in July 2007. From this point on I visited at least one institute, depart- ment, or other institution each week to get a more in-depth perspective on the university. At the same time, I worked with a team to develop a strategy for moving the university forward. These ideas gradually began to take shape in my weeks as rector. How do you rate the university’s development in the years since you left? I am surpised again and again at how much has changed in so little time. The university is more dynamic, more awake, and has a stronger presence. Inciden- tally, I am also happy that many of the members of my old team are still part of the Rectorate. Thus, many of the ideas from back then are still informing policy at the university today. As President of the Federal Consti- tutional Court, you are a public fig- ure and one of the most powerful men in the government. Was it hard for you to make the transition? I was aware early on that I would have to pay a high price for the office. Journal- ists interpret everything I say and “put me on the couch.” I always have security guards around me and can hardly go into a bar without being spoken to. It’s similar to being a politician, but as the president of a court I don’t actually need this kind of publicity to do my job. According to the media, you act as mediator, foreign minister, and op- position to the government at the Federal Constitutional Court. How do you see your role? The responsibilities of the president are clearly defined: I represent the court in public, run the administration, and serve as chairman of a senate. Any other roles the media assigns to me are not roles I would have sought out for myself. I do my best to maintain the great reputation of the court and develop the institution further. We find ourselves increasingly in a European network of courts. I see my core responsibility as positioning the Federal Constitutional Court advanta- geously within this network. How political is your work at the Federal Constitutional Court? We do not make decisions along politi- cal lines. On the contrary, a judge who uses political arguments loses the respect of his or her colleagues. A court of law is not the place to develop a new “An Exhausted President Wouldn’t Be a Good Presiden Andreas Voßkuhle once served as Rector of the University of Freiburg – today he is one of the most powerful men in the German government INTERVIEW University News uni'alumni 201322