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„Wonderful to have you here!" - Jacobs University opens the new academic year

The “Teacher of the Year” awards went out to faculty members who showed exceptional dedication to their students and their craft. (Source: Jacobs University)


September 8, 2021
Jacobs University started the new academic year with its traditional kick-off event: The Annual Opening Ceremony. Managing Director Professor Thomas Auf der Heyde welcomed new students from all over the world. He attested to their perseverance, because without this quality they would have hardly been able to qualify to study at Jacobs University during the pandemic. "The past 18 months have been very difficult for many. It is wonderful to have you here!" he said. In addition, the event honored the best graduation projects and named the 2021 Faculty Members of the Year.

For the first time, the Annual Opening Ceremony took place as a hybrid event, with live participants and an online audience. (Source: Jacobs University)

Perseverance and determination are qualities that are in demand, not only during studies but also afterwards, Professor Auf der Heyde emphasized in his speech. The major global challenges of the present, such as climate change or the increasing divisions in and between many nations, can only be mastered through cooperation, perseverance and education. Knowledge, he said, is a key to personal success and to each individual's ability to successfully meet the challenges of today. "Jacobs University provides them with excellent education," he assured.

For the first time, the new academic year at Jacobs University was opened with a hybrid event - a few "freshies," as first-year students at the English-speaking University are called, attended the event in person, while others joined via livestream. At the Ceremony, the university choir "J-Cappella" sang a song, student and alumni representatives delivered greetings - and numerous awards were presented.

The traditional Dean’s Prizes were awarded to three bachelor students and one master student during the Ceremony for exceptional theses. The nomination process is carried out by faculty members and the final selection is decided by the university deans. (Source: Jacobs University)

Since 2018, the deans have awarded the traditional "Dean's Prizes" for outstanding bachelor and master theses. Each year, three bachelor theses - one per Focus Area - and one master thesis are selected by the university's faculty based on merit for a scholarly contribution to society. Psychologist Nora Rebekka Nixdorf was honored for the best master thesis, and Clara Lina Dziuron (major: Global Economics and Management), Jan Felix Schuster (Chemistry) and Drishti Maharjan (Computer Science) were honored for their bachelor theses.

Among the awards presented at the annual commencement ceremony are the prestigious “Teacher of the Year” awards, which are given to faculty members who go above and beyond the high standards of teaching at Jacobs University. The awards are also divided into the three Focus Areas, and are awarded based on feedback from the student body.

J-Cappella, the university choir conducted by Rucsandra Popescu, opened the event with the song “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, setting a celebratory tone for the start of the semester. (Source: Jacobs University)

The award for faculty member of the year in the area of Health went to Prof. Dr. Andrea Koschinsky, professor of geosciences. Not only is she known as a very dedicated professor, but her research expeditions with her students are inspiring and offer the opportunity to conduct research in remote locations. Her students claim that her passion for geoscience and teaching is contagious and that she takes a personal interest in them. Her students describe her as a role model, and an inspiring woman in STEM fields. “In every way, she goes above and beyond what is expected of a professor," said students regarding her nomination.

The Diversity “Teacher of the Year” Award went to business professor Dr. Tilo Halaszovich, whose mentorship in the world of entrepreneurship is highly sought after on campus as well as in the alumni community. Many students mentioned how well designed his courses were and that his lectures were "interesting and insightful. In addition, students praised that he really cared about them, and "spared no effort in explaining topics and answering questions,” qualities belonging to a “Teacher of the Year” recipient.

Prof. Dr. Mallahi-Karai received the award in the area of Mobility for his exceptional commitment to his students. When asked what makes Prof. Mallahi-Karai so special as a mathematics professor, his students attested to his passion for the topic and his ability masterfully simplify even the most complicated of topics. His students nominated him for his tireless dedication, for coming up with the most brilliant and creative ways to entertain the class during online lectures, and also for spreading a boundless love of mathematics.