The Executive Board (Präsidium) is in charge of managing Freie Universität Berlin. Among its other responsibilities, the Executive Board approves the draft budget, publishes guidelines for budgetary and economic administration, and makes suggestions as to the establishment, modification, and elimination of organizational units, as well as proposing structural and development plans for Freie Universität Berlin and implementing the resolutions of the Academic Senate (Akademischer Senat) as to the establishment and elimination of courses of study.
The Executive Board works according to the principle of collective responsibility. The President is responsible for setting guidelines within the Executive Board. Within those guidelines, each Vice President and the Director of Administration and Finance (Kanzler or Kanzlerin) is responsible for managing his or her division independently and on his or her own responsibility. The Director of Administration and Finance supports the President in performing his or her duties. He or she manages ongoing administrative business and is bound by the guidelines set by the President in so doing. He or she is also the official in charge of the budget.
The President and the First Vice President are elected by a majority vote of the extended Academic Senate. The candidates are nominated by the Academic Senate and elected by the Academic Senate independently of the Board of Trustees (Kuratorium). The President and the Academic Senate are entitled to propose additional Vice Presidents. The President and Vice Presidents generally serve for a term of four years. The Director of Administration and Finance is elected by the Board of Trustees upon nomination by the President and is appointed by the Senate of Berlin for a term of ten years.
The work of the Executive Board is supported by the university administration and by a number of executive support teams (Stabsstellen):
The institutional strategy of Freie Universität follows a topic-related management approach. The overall aim is to strategically establish clusters of expertise, systematically initiate productive international networks in research and higher education, and promote young researchers through the reshaping of graduate education.
The Board of Trustees (Kuratorium) of Freie Universität is a central institution involved in the cooperation between the university, the state, and society at large. Its responsibilities include determining the university’s budget, establishing, modifying, and eliminating organizational units, and handling fundamentally and/or particularly important affairs of state that have been assigned to Freie Universität Berlin.
The Board of Trustees advises the Executive Board and the other central bodies on decisions, sets schedules of fees, and elects the Director of Administration and Finance (Kanzler or Kanzlerin). The Board of Trustees is made up of ten members: the member of the Berlin Senate who is responsible for higher education, five prominent public figures, and one representative each from the faculty, academic staff, other staff, and student body of Freie Universität Berlin.
The Academic Senate of Freie Universität Berlin is composed of 25 members, who are elected for two-year terms: 13 professors and four representatives each from the student body, the academic staff, and other staff. The President of the University leads the Academic Senate. Every four years, the 61 members of the extended Academic Senate elect the President and Vice Presidents of the university.
The Academic Senate of Freie Universität passes resolutions on matters including university development and equipment plans and establishes basic principles applicable to instruction, studies, and research at the university. It determines the number of students admitted to the university each year. It also issues a position statement on the draft budget and participates in the establishment and elimination of courses of study.
The CIO Board is the central decision-making body for all IT affairs and projects of Freie Universität Berlin with overlapping character for all departments and/or in connection with long-term commitments of human and financial resources. The members of the CIO Board are nominated by the Executive Board (Präsidium) and are responsible for all overarching IT issues at Freie Universität under the mandate issued by the Executive Board.
The Excellence Council (Exzellenzrat) is an internal board that advises the Executive Board and is involved in developing research priorities within the framework of the university’s future concept. It initiates new research networks and doctoral programs and evaluates the effects of all projects that are successful in the Excellence Initiative. The council consists of 25 outstanding researchers of Freie Universität Berlin, including many who have achieved special distinctions such as the Leibniz Prize. Most members are also involved in a focus area, an excellence cluster, or a graduate school at the university that is receiving special funding.
The International Council is an external advisory body made up of prominent scholars and scientists as well as higher education policymakers from different countries. Twelve countries are currently represented on the council. The council’s role is to supply international perspectives on the medium- to long-term alignment of Freie Universität.
Two standing commissions were created to support and advise the Executive Board and Academic Senate: the Teaching Commission (Kommission für Lehrangelegenheiten) and the Research Commission (Kommission für Forschung).