Irmintraud Jost Heads the University of Heidelberg’s New Liaison Office in New York

9 09 2008
Opening ceremony in early October — Rector Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel travelling to New York for the occasion
On 10 October 2008 the University of Heidelberg will be opening its new US liaison office in New York with a special ceremony to mark the occasion. Rector Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel will be travelling to New York to attend the ceremony, the ceremonial address will be delivered by Prof. Dr. Konrad Bayreuther. The non-profit Heidelberg University Association intends to use the Manhattan office as a base from which to support and step up the University’s already intensive transatlantic contacts. The executive director of the new liaison office in New York is Irmintraud Jost.

Reference to New York as an “urban jungle” is of course meant figuratively. Dense forests, high mountains and raging torrents are to be found elsewhere, and wild animals are restricted to the local zoo. Irmintraud Jost, who has lived and worked in New York since 1992, is familiar with both worlds. Before she put down roots in the metropolis on the East Coast, she worked as a reporter, mostly for German newspapers, in various countries and continents. In her leisure time she responds readily to the call of the wild, not least as a counterpoise to the “mega-city” New York. Her hobbies include hiking in Montana, white-water rafting in the Grand Canyon, kayaking in Alaska, mountain biking in Utah and trekking in Nepal.

All these pursuits require not only versatility but also a degree of tenacity, characteristics likely to stand her in good stead in her new job. Since mid May, Irmintraud Jost has been in charge of the University of Heidelberg’s newly opened liaison office in Manhattan. The office is accommodated in the German House, close to the UN headquarters, along with the German Consulate, the German Permanent Mission to the UN, the liaison offices of various German universities and colleges and the outstation of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The office is designed as a first port of call for Heidelberg alumni, students, academics and cooperation partners seeking contact with the University.

Born and bred in Hamburg, Irmintraud Jost studied at the Free University of Berlin and later attended courses on Strategic Communications at the Columbia University and Global Politics at the University of New York. As a journalist she worked as an editor for the Berliner Morgenpost and as a reporter in India, Nepal, Australia, Argentina, Israel, the West Bank and various other places, including, of course, the United States. Among the many prominent figures she has interviewed are Robert McNamara, the former President of the World Bank and defence secretary under John F. Kennedy, Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state and Daniel Barenboim, the politically committed pianist and conductor.

After settling in New York, Irmintraud Jost first spent 10 years in charge of the correspondents’ office of the Axel Spring publishing house before setting up her own company, Global Concept Consulting. It specialises in looking after long-term projects in the fields of communications and public relations. In one of these projects, the opening of the Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall and the establishment of the Weill Music Institute, Irmintraud Jost liaised with the Public Affairs Office of Carnegie Hall. In addition, her company provides professional event planning and intercultural coaching designed to assist people in finding their feet in the (business) world on either side of the Atlantic. Irmintraud Jost has already been involved in matters relating to the German higher-education sphere. She opened the branch offices of the German University Alliance, a joint venture by the Free University of Berlin and the University of Munich, and has also organised various projects for the German Academic Exchange Service, including the so-called German Cluster, a joint stand featuring over 30 German universities and academic institutions for the European Career Fair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

What does Irmintraud Jost intend to concentrate on in her work for the University of Heidelberg? “In general,” she says, “I hope to be able to make transatlantic relations even better and more intensive.” To this end the liaison office has set itself three tasks. The first of these is the establishment and extension of the North American alumni network in conjunction with Heidelberg Alumni International. Here the non-profit Heidelberg University Association will figure as the first port of call for alumni and also support the US Alumni Club after its foundation in October. Another crucial function is to assist the University in the cultivation and extension of academic contacts and cooperative ventures with American universities and colleges, not least in the field of student exchanges. Finally, the New York office sees itself as both an interface and a hinge between the University of Heidelberg and North America. Irmintraud Jost will be travelling regularly to Heidelberg to fulfil these functions in close conjunction with the University. For the University of Heidelberg this is definitively the start of a new chapter in the history of its successful cooperation with the USA.

Please address any inquiries to
Irmintraud Jost
Executive Director
Friends of Heidelberg University
871 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Editor: Email
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