Renate Merk
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Renate Merk

"A team achieves more than a lone fighter".

Job advertisement? Headhunter? Tip from acquaintances? No - Renate Merk's path to the HSWT began in 2006 with a construction site. "At the time, I kept driving past the construction board for what is now Building C," says the native of central Franconia, "so I thought to myself: if they're building and expanding, then they'll surely need new staff." She was right with this conclusion - and a few weeks later, she had the job as dean's secretary in her pocket. In a way, this beginning anticipated the motif that would shape Renate Merk's now 15-year employment at the HSWT: Growth and change.

Experienced in constant change

She is a reliable constant. "In the beginning, I was secretary for the Departments of Environmental Engineering and Agriculture, Food, and Nutrition, which were much smaller than today. Since then, there have been more and more students and professors, and new buildings have been added all the time, also at the other teaching institutions in Triesdorf - I have been surrounded by construction sites since day one, so to speak," she laughs. She welcomes this growth and the innovations that come with it because rut is not her thing. "As deanery secretary, I have to react flexibly to things that come up spontaneously, together with my colleagues. Of course, that's also challenging, but I appreciate the variety and diversity in my job." That is not least due to the changing superiors because the usual term of office for deans is four years. When a new boss takes over, Merk uses her experience from a decade and a half in the dean's office to help them settle into the new processes and areas of responsibility.

The dean's office staff of the two departments located at the Triesdorf campus have established a way to support each other optimally: "We share the offices across faculties. For example, I sit with the dean's secretary of the Department of Environmental Engineering, and the dean's assistants do the same. That automatically leads to a good exchange and fruitful cooperation. It brings advantages for everyone because: A team achieves more than a lone fighter."

At the hub

As dean's secretary, Renate Merk takes care of the bureaucratic processes surrounding part-time lecturers and appointment committees, creates elective modules online, edits the curricula, prepares and follows up on Faculty Council meetings and answers enquiries from internal and external sources on the ringing telephone. And then, of course, there are the countless large and small concerns of the many people who come in and out of Merk's office every day. "I miss the party traffic now, during the pandemic situation," says the 52-year-old. "Above all, I also miss the students on campus - it's quite strange when everything is so empty now."

Under normal circumstances, students with worries and needs also show up now and then at Merk's door. "Most turn directly to Student.Service, but even in our office. We sometimes have to comfort and point out that the world is not falling apart." Thanks to the familiar atmosphere and short distances at the Triesdorf campus, Renate Merk also meets students by chance on campus now and then and thus has the opportunity to see what has become of their concern.

To clear her head after work, Renate Merk goes for long walks with her Labrador Bailey. For him, too, the end of the day begins after she has driven the few kilometres home from campus because he spends the weekdays at Merk's brother's flower shop, where he has made it his business to greet customers. "The long walks are the perfect balance for me. A dog like that demands exercise outside in all weathers. In the past decades, I have only lived three-quarters of a year without a dog and realised: You can always find an excuse not to go out. The thing is, you always feel better after a walk in the fresh air.