Secretary-General appoints Swiss physicist as new Rector of UN University
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today named Konrad Osterwalder, a Swiss physicist, as the new Rector of the United Nations University (UNU), which serves as the world body’s think tank.
The decision to appointment Mr. Osterwalder was made after consultations with Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and an extensive international search process.
Mr. Osterwalder, who will assume this position on 1 September, will be the fifth Rector of the UNU. He will succeed Hans van Ginkel, a Dutch geographer who has been serving in the position since 1997.
Founded in 1973, the UNU is an international network of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate training and the dissemination of knowledge to further the UN's aims of peace and progress. Headquartered in Tokyo, the University has 13 research and training centres around the world and cooperates with more than 100 research institutions in various countries across the globe.
Mr. Osterwalder “greatly values the importance of the UNU and intends to promote and enhance the collaboration of this key institution with leading institutions around the world,” according to a press release.
A physicist by training, he is currently the Rector and President ad interim of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, located in Zurich.
He received his doctorate in theoretical physics from the same institution in 1970, and was appointed as a full professor there seven years later. He has held positions at New York University, Harvard University and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundations, and has also been a visiting fellow at numerous universities and research institutes around the world.
Mr. Osterwalder’s research has mainly focused on the mathematical structure of quantum field theory, elementary particle physics and statistical mechanics.
He is a member of the Swiss Academy of Technical Sciences and received an honorary doctorate from the Helsinki Technical University.