Communicating the change – internal and external communication in university mergers (EMP project)

Katrin Müller & Kerstin Theilmann - Germany

Katrin Müller started working in communication and marketing in 2005, after her studies of Intercultural Communication, Spanish and Information Science. She began her career in the Corporate Communications Department of Nike and worked in different PR and marketing agencies as a consultant before she became head of communication at the Technische Universität Kaiserslautern in 2015. Her main topics since then are the development of communication and marketing strategies as well as the positioning of her team as internal consultants in all communication and marketing issues. Social Media, Alumni Management and Fundraising form also part of her department as well as different digitalization projects within the university. Due to her working experience, she became an expert in crisis and internal communication and has a MBA degree in Communication & Leadership she finished in 2016.

Session introduction

Mergers in higher education have become common over the last years – they range from small mergers of institutions within an organization to mergers of several universities.

Session in-depth

Communicators play a special role in the change: they are part of the process and have to merge their departments. At the same time, they have to orchestrate the communication (internal and external) within the process. The challenges are diverse and raise a lot of questions: e.g. how can we bring together the employee´s information need with the information policy of the ministry and the university management? How can we fully and transparently inform the employees and take them successfully along on this journey? How can we position ourselves within the process from an organizational side? How can we create a new culture after the merger?

We (the speaker) actually face such a challenge: The Technische Universität Kaiserslautern (TUK) and the Campus Landau of the University of Koblenz-Landau will merge until the end of 2022. The two universities have different profiles: The TUK is a technical university with social and economic sciences, Landau has expertise in teacher training, psychology, social sciences and environmental sciences.

In our workshop we want to give you some insights from our actual merger process of Kaiserslautern and Landau, discuss with you the main challenges in a fusion process and present what we have elaborated on this topic as “EUPRIO Mobility Programme” team with colleagues from France, Belgium, Finland and Germany.