2018/11/16 | People |

"Students can expect a sympathetic ear from me"

The Executive Council of the Canton of Bern has appointed Markus Brönnimann as the new Administrative Director of the University of Bern. As of June 1, 2019, he succeeds Daniel Odermatt, who passed away in July 2018. Markus Brönnimann also shows his private side and talks about the priorities he wants to set as Administrative Director in this interview.

Interview: Christian Degen

Who is Markus Brönnimann?
Despite my Bernese name, I am an Appenzeller. I grew up in the Appenzell region and was prepared for life there. I am married and the father of two grown-up children. I studied Organization at the HSG in St. Gallen and am particularly interested in strategic control, system design and management cybernetics issues. After completing my studies, I worked in a variety of areas, for example in industry, as Administrative Director at the HSG and currently as Head of the Canton of Zurich’s Real Estate Office, where I am currently working on a major reorganization project in the field of real estate management in the Canton of Zurich. By the way, my colleagues and I have reflected on the experiences gained working in HSG’s administration in a book.

What are you looking forward to most?
I am very much looking forward to working for an academic institution again. As this is a privilege. On the one hand because you work for and with young and dynamic people, which keeps you young and dynamic. And on the other hand, because you can work in an intellectually stimulating environment. You have contacts with people who are at the forefront of their field. But I am also looking forward to working with political authorities, because we can achieve a great deal together.

Where are you likely to set your priorities? Can you give us three key points?
I want to support the university in preserving its freedom to act. My focus is certainly on the financial freedom to act, but it is also about preserving academic freedom. The university needs a good infrastructure for good research and teaching. These are buildings on the one hand, and modern IT systems and tools on the other. I want to work to ensure that these infrastructures meet the needs of the members of the university well. My third focus is on the issue of efficiency, because a university’s administration has to deliver its services in an efficient way.

What can students expect from you?
Educating students is one of the university’s main remits. But students are not just 'customers', they are the university’s 'citizens', who help shape it and fill it with life. The students are a very important group to me for this reason. They can definitely expect a sympathetic ear from me. I look forward to hearing their suggestions and hope we can implement many of them together. But I will also clarify the mutual expectations very clearly with the students. Not everyone’s wishes and needs can be fulfilled. That’s the economic reality.

What is your relationship to the City and Canton of Bern?
Despite my roots in the Appenzell region and my love for the Säntis, I am also Bernese. I'm a citizen of Belp and my father is living there again. So I appreciate the beauty of the city and the countryside in Bern and I am also happy to be able to put down roots here. I’m convinced that I’m going to feel really at home in Bern. We’ll have to see how the people of Bern feel about the Appenzell sense of humor. (laughs)

What do you do in your spare time?
I love spending my free time with my wife Esther. I also like going on long hiking tours for two or three days. So I'm sure I'll "hike" part of the Canton of Bern as well. I like taking to the air as a private pilot too. I’m already familiar with Bern/Belpmoos airfield. Finally, I like brewing beer from time to time - and I hope that the Rector can give me some useful hints here as a chemist.

Media release of the University of Bern about the new Administrative Director


Markus Brönnimann (56) is currently Head of the Real Estate Office at the Canton of Zurich's Building Department. He is a citizen of Belp and currently lives in Herisau. He was the Administrative Director of the University of St. Gallen from 2006 to 2015. Prior to that, Brönnimann worked in the private sector, among other things as a Senior Project Manager at Malik Management Zentrum St. Gallen, where he led and conducted consulting and training projects in the areas of strategy, organization, processes and effective leadership. Markus Brönnimann graduated from the University of St. Gallen in 1989 with a degree in economics (lic. oec. HSG), Organization, and gained the qualification for Pro-Rectors at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2014.

As Administrative Director of the University of St. Gallen, Brönnimann managed the growth of the university from 5,000 to 8,000 students and was responsible, among other things, for the conception and introduction of planning and control tools in the areas of project management, strategy and medium-term planning. As Administrative Director of the University of Bern, Markus Brönnimann will have access to a large network in industry, education and politics.

UNIVERSITY OF BERN Administrative Director's Office

The Administrative Director's Office establishes the operational and organizational conditions that allow the university to fulfill its core tasks competently and at a high level. It supports teaching, research and services with reliable, efficient support processes in various areas. The Administrative Director's Office includes the following areas at the University of Bern: Finance Office, Human Resources Office, Unitectra Technology Transfer, University Library Bern, IT Services Office, University Sports, Facility Management Office, Building Development Office, Risk Management Office.


Christian Degen is Head of the Communication and Marketing Office at the University of Bern.