In the summer, majority shareholder Serg Bell brought his wife, Oznur Bell, into the management of Constructor Uni. See who else is steering the fortunes of the private school.
After five changes in a few years, a commission is looking for a new president for the private Constructor Uni in Grohn. Most recently, Fabio Pammolli resigned from his post in January. Who is currently steering the fortunes of a university, and whether the city and the private university can present the joint master plan for the development of the campus and the Science Park on schedule is to be determined.
Who are the new managing directors?
Five executive directors will cover the responsibilities of the missing President Pammolli, campus officials say. Majority shareholder Serg Bell already brought his wife, Oznur Bell, onto the board this summer. Oznur Bell is also Chief Operating Officer of Constructor University and Constructor Group. "So basically, I'm responsible for all the revenue-generating activities of the university and the entire group. This includes student recruitment and marketing, of course, but also business development, Erasmus and World Change Programs," Oznur Bell said.
Oznur Bell holds a bachelor's degree in political science and public administration. Born in Turkey in 1982, she founded a K-12 school in Izmir (primary and secondary education) in 2013 and was most recently responsible for marketing and student recruitment at various BAU Global Educational Network universities. At Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, she served as advisor to the president.
Also new to the team are Katya Fisher, a lawyer from New York, who is responsible for Human Resources Management and Legal Affairs on campus, and IT expert Stanislav Protasov from Uzbekistan, whose focus is on technology, operations and real estate. Provost Thomas Auf der Heyde and Vice President Maja Laetitia Feldt were already working for (former) Jacobs University. She has more than 20 years of experience in process, performance and quality management at universities, and he served as deputy director general of the South African Department of Science and Technology before taking up his position at Bremen-Nord.
When will the master plan for the campus be ready?
The city and the former Jacobs University wanted to present a master plan for the further development of the university and the Science Park by May 31, 2023, and present it to the public. According to the letter of intent, the city wanted to support construction measures, such as the creation of a quantum center based on current planning law. It is true that Bremen has also concluded such a memorandum of understanding with Constructor Uni. According to René Kotte from the construction authorities, however, the completion date for the master plan cannot be met. "We are in a lively exchange, but we will need an extension." Background: the change of ownership goes hand in hand with a realignment, so more students are to be accommodated on campus. Serg Bell is talking about 5000 students in the next ten years.
How does leadership recruit new students?
When Oznur Bell took over student recruitment and admissions, she says it was clear to her that both internal student admissions processes and the overall marketing approach would have to "change a lot" to increase student numbers: "I've been in education for more than a decade, focusing on marketing strategy in K-12 schools and universities." The university's entire marketing strategy has been revamped, she said. "As part of that strategy, we've increased the number of agents we work with, what we call guidance counselors, or high school career counselors, and the trade shows we attend. So we now have many more agents in over 100 different countries around the world. But in addition to that, I've also been working on simplifying the procedures for student registration and application. This application process used to take up to four months, but now it only takes four weeks. That's a big success for us."
Will management rent residence halls?
After shareholder Serg Bell announced there would be no new college construction or expansion of existing buildings on campus due to current price increases, management is working on several ideas to accommodate more students. Oznur Bell said, "right now we have some short-term solutions with bunk beds on campus. We are also looking at repurposing some buildings on campus to create more dorms, and we are also in contact with the city to find options for our students that are very close to the university." One possibility the Managing Director sees is to rent buildings off campus this year and set up apartments for students here. Oznur Bell: "We are in talks about this with the administration, but also with partners from the region."
What about the university finances?
For decades, the private university struggled with financial worries. It doesn't seem to have any money troubles at the moment. In an interview with our newspaper, majority shareholder Serg Bell stated that he had financed the university to date with 15 million euros and indirectly with another ten million euros. A "base investment" of initially 25 million euros had also been contractually agreed with Bremen in 2021.
According to its annual report published in December 2022, the university did have to take exactly 19.3 million euros from its coffers in 2021 to present a balanced budget. However, there are still grants of 44 million euros available, according to the paper. In addition, a sum of 40 million euros is available as an investment grant or a special item for donations in kind. This adds up to 84 million euros. "The financial situation has improved significantly compared to the previous year," is the assessment of the management in the report. Nina Willborn, spokesperson for the responsible science authorities, emphasized that the faculty no longer receives any tax money from Bremen: "That was one of the unalterable requirements for the search for a new investor.”
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