“Higher education means passion!” declared Renate Lieckfeldt ardently at the start of her inaugural speech as the new rector of Leipzig University of Applied Sciences. In 2011, she became the first woman to take the helm of the university. Her appointment was widely reported in the media, for she’d had to clear considerable obstacles beforehand.
Renate Lieckfeldt graduated from the University of Heidelberg in 1988 with a degree in pharmacy. In 1993, she was awarded a PhD in industrial pharmacy. Originally intending to pursue an academic career with a habilitation paving the way for a professorship, she was lured into industry by the prospect of becoming an executive with consumer goods corporation Procter & Gamble. She came to appreciate working in a multicultural environment, for example while spending five years as technical external relations manager in the Netherlands.
In 2001, now a mother of three children, Renate Lieckfeldt returned to academia. In her new role as professor of industrial management in the Department of Physical Engineering at Gelsenkirchen University of Applied Sciences, she was able to contribute her extensive experience in management and marketing as she carried out industry-related research projects. In 2007, she was appointed dean. In her spare time, she played the piano, and was especially fond of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
On 19 January 2011, Renate Lieckfeldt was finally elected the new rector of Leipzig University of Applied Sciences by the Extended Senate in the third ballot. This was at a time when she had just overcome cancer. Because of the risk of her illness returning, the Saxon State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts refused to allow her to become a civil servant, effectively barring her from becoming rector. This prompted a storm in the media and students protested by occupying the rectorate for a day. In the end, the ministry acquiesced and approved her appointment with effect from 1 July 2011.
As rector, Renate Lieckfeldt campaigned for the introduction of the Deutschlandstipendium scholarship and also the establishment of a further education centre. During her period of office, important decisions were taken concerning the strategic realignment of the university. Moreover, being a music-lover, it’s no coincidence that both a choir and an orchestra were founded at Leipzig University of Applied Sciences during her tenure.
In August 2013, Renate Lieckfeldt wrote an open letter in which she resigned from all her positions, explaining that her cancer had returned. On 8 September 2013, she died in Leipzig at the age of just 48.