“I am absolutely convinced of fostering the psychoanalytic paradigm”

With Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz taking over the office of President, the IPU Berlin will be in the hands of an experienced university director. His goal for the psychoanalytic university is “excellent scholarship”.

Strengthening IPU’s technical and academic profile, achieving the ability to grant doctorates, fostering economic stability and continuing to develop IPU’s campus – these are the new IPU President’s central goals. In assuming office, Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz also expressed that leading the psychoanalytic university involves many content-related objectives: “Including cultural, economic, and social elements and embedding those things that make us human and allow us to develop into the larger context of society as a whole is interdisciplinary in the best sense of the word.” Through this he draws on the founding tenets of the IPU and looks towards a future of potential and expansion: “I am absolutely convinced of fostering the psychoanalytic paradigm.” 

After the Academic Senate’s unanimous decision back in December 2020, Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz assumed the office of IPU President on 1 July. He succeeds Prof. Dr Lilli Gast, who has led IPU as Interim President for the last year, and who in August will return to the board of trustees and directors of IPU’s sponsor foundation. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz will serve as the fifth president of IPU Berlin, following Jürgen Körner, Martin Teising, Ilka Quindeau, and lastly Lilli Gast. This will be the first time that the position is held by a scholar who has not completed a psychological or psychoanalytic education. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz has a degree in educational science, but also sees himself as “highly associated” with psychoanalysis: “Educational sciences have the same object–the person, their perceptions, being, feeling. In this way, psychology and psychoanalysis are no strangers to me.” 

This topic is part of the appeal – especially in the context of the current scope of science and academics. With regard to the IPU, he says, “I am attracted by the fascinating story of its founding as well as its aspirations to embody the growth and reclamation of psychoanalytic perspectives within the sciences.” On the other hand, he also sees heading a private university as a challenge. “Whenever Berlin’s rich and diverse university landscape is in focus,” he says, “it does not fit that private universities are excluded from state funding.”

Olbertz is an experienced university manager, and within the scope of Berlin universities, he is known, among other aspects, for his presidency at the Humboldt-University of Berlin from 2010 to 2016. He achieved his doctorate at the Martin-Luther-University in Halle-Wittenberg where he also taught while earning his qualifications as a professor, which he completed in 1992. As founding director, he was involved in the establishment of the Institute for University Research Wittenberg (HoF) from 1996 to 2000. Afterwards, he transitioned into the political sector and served as Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs of the state of Sachsen-Anhalt from 2002 to 2010.