Board appoints new members of the Executive Boards of ETH Zurich and EPFL

Berne/Zurich, 25.09.2020 - The ETH Board has appointed two new members of the Executive Board of ETH Zurich and three new members of the Executive Board of EPFL. The appointments at ETH Zurich increase the management structure from five to seven Executive Board domains. The appointments at EPFL reflect an adjustment to the structure of the Executive Board for the second term of office of Prof. Martin Vetterli, which runs from 2021 to 2024. The Board of Directors of PSI is also being extended through the appointment of Dr Thierry Strässle. In addition, the ETH Board has defined the profile for the vacant position of Director of WSL.


New appointments to the Executive Boards of ETH Zurich and EPFL

By increasing the Executive Board from five to seven members, which includes introducing a new management structure, ETH Zurich and its president, Joël Mesot, are responding to tougher competition and the enormous growth of ETH Zurich in recent years. To ensure that its leadership culture and personnel development are also on a par with those of world-leading universities and to secure its long-term role as an innovation driver in Switzerland, ETH Zurich is creating two new vice presidencies: Leadership and Personnel Development, and Knowledge Transfer and Corporate Relations.

EPFL is adjusting the structure of its Executive Board for the second term of office of its president, Martin Vetterli. The newly created Vice Presidency for Responsible Transformation will handle cross-campus issues such as diversity and sustainability. Responsibility for teaching and research is being combined in a new Vice Presidency "Academic Affairs", based on the provost model widely used at international universities. Responsibility for operations, human resources and information systems will be combined in a new Vice Presidency for Operations. 

New members of the Executive Board of ETH Zurich

Dr Julia Dannath, Vice President for Leadership and Personnel Development, will be joining the Executive Board on 1 November 2020. She has been helping organisations in Switzerland and abroad drive forward their corporate and leadership culture for more than twelve years. Dr Dannath is a recognised HR expert with a PhD in psychology and is the author of several publications in her fields.

Prof. Vanessa Wood, Vice President for Knowledge Transfer and Corporate Relations, is currently a professor in the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at ETH Zurich. She will continue her duties there on a reduced scale. She has been engaged in research into nanotechnology and batteries at ETH Zurich since 2011. The results of her research work have already been used in several spin-offs. In addition, she has received many awards for her contribution to knowledge transfer in industry. She will assume her new post on 1 January 2021.

New members of the Executive Board of EPFL

Prof. Gisou van der Goot will take up her new post as Vice President for Responsible Transformation on 1 January 2021. She initially studied engineering at Ecole Centrale Paris, before starting her research career with a PhD in molecular biophysics. She subsequently lectured at the University of Geneva, leaving in 2006 to take up a position as professor of molecular and cellular microbiology at EPFL. She is currently Dean of the School of Life Sciences at EPFL. She has received many awards for her research, including the Leenards Prize and the Marcel-Benoist Prize.  

Prof. Jan Hesthaven will take up his new post as Vice President of "Academic Affairs" on 1 January 2021. Prof. Hesthaven holds a PhD in mathematical modelling from the Technical University of Denmark. Having worked for nearly two decades at Brown University, he was appointed to the Chair of Computational Mathematics and Simulation Science at EPFL in 2013. He is currently Dean of the School of Basic Sciences. 

Dr Matthias Gäumann currently heads the Vice Presidency "Operations" on an interim basis and will assume this post on a permanent basis on 1 January 2021. He holds a PhD in material science from EPFL and an MBA from the IMD business school in Lausanne. The ETH Board appointed him as an interim member of the EPFL Executive Board on 21 July 2020. He has an excellent knowledge of EPFL's culture and organisation and many years' experience in operational management.   


Members leaving the Executive Board of EPFL

As a result of the structural adjustment of the Executive Board for the second term of office of Prof. Martin Vetterli from 2021 to 2024, the following members will leave the Executive Board of EPFL at the end of 2020. The ETH Board would like to thank them sincerely for their work and commitment to EPFL.

Prof. Pierre Vandergheynst, Vice President for Education, made innovation in education his central focus. As well as introducing computational thinking as one of the three principal areas of learning for new students, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Extension School and the success of the LEARN and MAKE initiatives.

Prof. Andreas Mortensen, Vice President for Research, has negotiated many research contracts with the European Union with considerable success and tenacity. He supported the reorganisation of the internal research programmes and led the development of new research platforms. Last month, he and his team set up COVID-19 research scholarships at EPFL.

Prof. Edouard Bugnion, Vice President for Information Systems, used his wealth of academic and industrial experience to restructure the information systems at EPFL. In recent months he spearheaded the EPFL's work for the SwissCovid app.

Caroline Kuyper, Vice President for Finances, successfully drove forward the restructuring of the finance department and strengthened the Vice Presidency for Finances. She has been CFO and Vice President for Finances at EPFL since 2017. Before that she worked for Nestlé and became CFO of the International Olympic Committee in 2012. She was also Deputy Director of the Federal Statistical Office, where she led the Resources and International Affairs divisions. Caroline Kuyper will take up a new role in the organisation as of 1 January 2021, enabling EPFL to continue benefiting from her expertise.


Thierry Strässle, new member of the Board of Directors of PSI

Dr Thierry Strässle, who has been in charge of Directorate Support at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) for many years, has been appointed to the Board of Directors as Deputy Director. Thierry Strässle studied physics at ETH Zurich, where he gained his PhD in 2002. As Head of Directorate Support, he has been responsible for operational management for the Board of Directors since 2012. From January 2019 until the end of March 2020 he was an interim director of PSI. Prof. Gabriel Aeppli, who is currently a member of the Board of Directors, has also been appointed Deputy Director. 


Vacancy for the position of director at WSL

The ETH Board has decided to initiate the procedure to appoint a new director of WSL. The previous incumbent, Konrad Steffen, died on 8 August in an accident on a Greenland expedition. The ETH Board has set up an appointment committee to find a successor. In addition to the President of the ETH Board as chairman, the committee comprises two further members of the ETH Board and representatives of WSL, ETH Zurich, EPFL and the other research institutes of the ETH Domain. Further members are a representative of a federal office and an external expert in environmental sciences and sustainability. The ETH Board has also adopted the required qualifications profile. The committee is looking for an individual with an internationally recognised track record in environmental sciences, climate change and/or sustainability, experience in the management of research institutions or entities and proven integrative skills. Further, he or she should be familiar with the thematic foci of WSL, foster collaboration with other institutions both in the ETH Domain and beyond, be interested in developing a common vision in order to strengthen the Domain's ability to respond dynamically to new challenges and perform mission-driven, impact-oriented research. A good knowledge of Swiss and European political and legal processes and culture is also important. The ideal candidate will have a dynamic personality with a wide range of interests, strong leadership qualities and excellent communication skills. Until the new Director takes office, WSL will be run by the Deputy Director, Dr Christoph Hegg.


Partial revision of the Personnel Ordinance for the ETH Domain (ETH PO)

The amendments to the Personnel Ordinance for the ETH Domain (ETH PO) adopted by the ETH Board on 5 March 2020 were approved by the Federal Council on 19 August 2020, subject to certain provisions (further amendments for 2021). The aim of the partial revision was to align the ordinance to present conditions and, where possible and expedient, to federal regulations. 

The amendments come into effect on 1 October 2020. The main changes include amendments to continued salary payments in the event of illness or accident, details of the obligation of employees to collaborate when unable to work owing to illness or accident and the consequences of failure to collaborate effectively, extension of paid leave to include caring for an employee's parents, and a clearer definition of the personnel category doctoral students, postdoctoral students and project staff. Employees of the ETH Domain will be notified of the changes by the Human Resources departments at the two institutes of technology and four research institutes.

Address for enquiries

Gian-Andri Casutt
Head of Communication of the ETH Board
Häldeliweg 15, CH-8092 Zurich
+41 44 632 20 03


Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology