Ortwin Renn joined the IASS in February 2016 after a long and successful career as a scientist and university lecturer. His responsibilities included the task of preparing the Institute for its evaluation by the German Science and Humanities Council. “Ortwin brought his talents on board to secure a long-term perspective for the IASS – and he succeeded! A very large part of the credit due for the Science Council‘s positive evaluation of the Institute goes to him,” said IASS Director Mark Lawrence, who leads the IASS alongside the sociologist and expert on risk governance. Renn’s efficient, enthusiastic and empowering character inspired staff and substantially enhanced the Institute’s performance.
Six of the Institute’s research group leaders also lauded Renn’s contribution to the IASS in their speeches. In their view, Ortwin Renn was “an enabler, a leader, and a very decent human being,” “one of the few people in science who is incredibly successful and yet so nice,” “an insanely great director,” and “a gifted leader who allowed us great creative freedom and always helped us when we needed it.” The team that led preparations for the evaluation described Renn as a “unshakable bastion of patience and resolve”. He was “always responsive to everyone” and “proposed compromises without watering down the issues at stake”.
For his part, Ortwin Renn had warm words of gratitude for the staff of the IASS. He expressed his sentiments by reciting the opening lines from Hermann Hesse's poem “Stages” (Stufen). “As every flower fades and as all youth / Departs, so life at every stage / So every virtue, so our grasp of truth / Blooms in its day and may not last forever.” (Translated by Richard and Clara Winston in: The Glass Bead Game) And while Renn may be retiring, he will continue to actively cooperate with the IASS - operating under its new name “Research Institute For Sustainability – Helmholtz Centre Potsdam” (RIFS).