People - 15.01.2019 - 00:00 

Bernhard Ehrenzeller to become future President of HSG

The government of the Canton of St.Gallen has approved the election of Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ehrenzeller by the Senate and the University Council as future President of the University of St.Gallen. Bernhard Ehrenzeller is Professor of Public Law at the University of St.Gallen and Director of the Institute for Legal Studies and Legal Practice. He will succeed the current President, Prof. Dr. Thomas Bieger, on 1 February 2020.

15 January 2019. Bernhard Ehrenzeller was nominated for election by the Nomination Committee and the Senate last December. Yesterday, Monday 14 January 2019, he was elected by the University Council. Today, Tuesday 15 January 2019, the government approved his election.

Many years of experience as Vice-President for Research

The newly elected President is ideally prepared for this role. He already held the office of Vice-President from 2003 to 2011, so he will contribute many years of experience as Vice-President for Research in two presidencies, several years of experience as Director of an Institute, a large network of relationships and high recognition in the cantonal and national arenas. For example, he was significantly involved in the development of the Federal Act on Funding and Coordination of the Swiss Higher Education Sector.

Election as usual one year before taking office

The election of the new President takes place as usual approximately one year before they take office. The team of now four Vice-Presidents will be elected in the course of the spring semester, 2019. To prepare for the election of the President, the Senate first appointed a Nomination Committee from among its members. This was on the basis of a process newly approved by the University Council. Prof. Bernhard Ehrenzeller was initially a member of the Nomination Committee. However, he stood down in October 2018 when he was nominated as a possible candidate by several members of Senate.

Opening of candidacies

The Higher Education Act provides for the President to be elected from among the full professors. With the aim of opening up the field of candidates, the legal basis was created to also include full professors who are shortly before retirement. With the amendment to the University Statute (article 45 section 2) as approved by the government with regard to the assumption or continuation of the office of President or Vice-President, full professors can also be elected or re-elected for the period after they reach the age of 65. The period in office ends no later than the end of the semester after they reach the age of 70 in any event. This new arrangement will apply to the newly elected President.

About Bernhard Ehrenzeller

Bernhard Ehrenzeller (1953) acquired a licentiate in Law at the University of Fribourg in 1977. He obtained a doctorate at the University of Basel in 1984, where he also qualified as a professor in 1993. In 1980 he became a licensed lawyer and notary in Solothurn.

He was elected as Full Professor for Public Law at the University of St.Gallen on 1 April 1997. One year later, he was elected Director of the Institute of Legal Studies and Legal Practice (IRP-HSG, at that time IVK-HSG). He held the office of Vice-President for Research in the years 2003 to 2011. While working on his post-doctoral thesis, he spent several months researching at the MPI for International Law in Heidelberg, at Harvard Law School and at the Swiss Institute for Comparative Law in Lausanne. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ehrenzeller spent his sabbaticals as a visiting scholar at the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy in Boston (2010/2011) and at the Peter Allard Law School of the UBC in Vancouver (2016). He is a member of various academic associations at home and abroad.

Bernhard Ehrenzeller has close connections to legal practice. From 1980 to 1986, he was Legal Secretary at the Department of Justice of the Canton of Solothurn and from 1991 to 1997 he was a personal employee of Federal Councillor Arnold Koller. In the course of this work he was heavily involved in the development of the new Federal Constitution. From this involvement and after his election to full professor at the HSG, he grasped the initiative and together with his public law colleagues he published the St.Gallen Commentary on the Federal Constitution (the fourth edition of which is currently in preparation).

As an expert and advisor in the field of education law, Bernhard Ehrenzeller was significantly involved in the creation of the new education constitution and the new higher education legislation in Switzerland. This work was reflected in the publication of the SBVR volume on educational, cultural and linguistic law at the start of 2018, among other things. He has developed other expert, advisory and speaking activities in the fields of Direct Democracy, Federalism and Government Reform.

Since 2011 Bernhard Ehrenzeller has also held the post of judge at the State Court of the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Bernhard Ehrenzeller is married and is the father of two teenagers. The family lives in St.Gallen.

Photo: Livia Eichenberger

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