Johannes Marian, head of the mdw’s Ludwig van Beethoven Department of Piano and Harpsichord in Music Education, was recently chosen by the mdw Senate’s full members to serve as Senate Chair for a term running from now until 30 September 2022. In this conversation with mdw Magazine, he sketches out the Senate’s responsibilities and casts an optimistic eye toward the coming years.

Johannes Marian © Stephan Polzer

Alongside the Rector, the rectorate team, and the University Board, the Senate is one of the University’s four top-level decision-making bodies, thus being involved in central decisions that are important for the entire mdw. It enacts and amends curricula, for example, as well as appointing subsidiary “collegial bodies” such as studies, appointments, and habilitation committees. “The very special distinguishing feature of the Senate is its democratic legitimation, since its members are elected by secret ballot,” explains Johannes Marian. The Senate’s members are chosen every three years by the mdw’s teaching staff and administrators, and the students likewise choose their own representatives. The resulting group of full members then elects a Senate Chair as well as his or her deputy. “Teamed with the newly elected Deputy Chair Ursula Hemetek, who is a strong voice for research at our University, I’m very happily looking forward to my work as chair,” says Marian, who will be succeeding Johannes Meissl—who, for his part, has been serving as Vice Rector for International Affairs and Art since 1 October. “From my predecessor, I inherit a Senate that engages in continuous, productive, and highly collegial exchange where, in principle, the specific group of people to which one belongs makes no difference.” Johannes Marian intends to maintain and further develop this approach.

A matter of paramount importance to him is the significance and role of the students: “The students send four full members, which makes the Senate the only top-level decision-making body where students are directly represented and have a vote.” And hierarchies are something of which Marian thinks little. “Let’s take the administrators, for instance: the Universities Act stipulates only one full representative. But the Senate will do well to pay special attention to and consider what that representative says, because with just one vote among 18, our administrators definitely aren’t sufficiently represented.” In addition to the various collegial bodies it appoints, the Senate also has numerous working groups that are open to all individuals attached to the mdw. “One can find all of the working groups at the Senate’s web presence, and everyone who wants to join their discussions is welcome to do so!” For his part as Senate Chair, Johannes Marian desires above all to engage in numerous personal conversations that enable him to involve and refer to the wishes and ideas of the greatest possible number of individuals in discussions and decisions. “Only in this way can the Senate actively do justice to its intended responsibilities in concert with the other decision-making bodies and thus have a beneficial effect on the entire University.”

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