HERMES is a network of 29 universities from around the world. It was founded in November 1997 as an initiative of the Ecole de Management Strasbourg (former IECS) of the Robert Schuman University in Strasbourg. Dr Kevin Mac Gabhann’s, Director of International Relations at EM Strasbourg have completed his mandate as general director of the Hermes network.
Kevin, what are the key achievements that have been done during your mandate?
The HERMES network celebrated its 25th anniversary on November 3, 2022, in the Permanent Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg (Germany) in Brussels, and Rainer Wieland, Vice-President of the European Parliament, was our guest of honor and gave the keynote speech.
One of our key achievements was to expand the network with new partner universities in strategic locations. In the last 4 years we have added 5 new partner universities to the network all from countries new to the network. These are the University of Sterling (Scotland), Zagreb School of Economics, (Croatia), University of Vassa, (Finland), University of Lancashire (England) and ESCA, Morocco. We are particularly proud of introducing ESCA in Casablanca, Morocco as our first partner from the African Continent.
To get more students on board, we introduced for the first time double degrees and triple degrees at a bachelors level within the network. (University of Hohenheim, HEC Liege and EM Strasbourg)
We also started a new initiative of putting the “R” into HERMES which meant focusing on research exchanges between partner universities. PhD workshops were set up each year in locations such as Pavie, Strasbourg, Bucharest, and most recently Athens. The plans are in place to continue the PhD workshops but also focus on more research initiatives including possible PhD exchanges, and research faculty exchanges at bi-tri and multilateral levels.
We also instigated a new added value program for partners to exchange best practices on hot topics in international higher education. For example, the issues of Green mobility, Accreditation and Resilience have all been addressed at previous general assemblies.
We equally set up online courses/workshops for the 100+ HERMES students within the network on topics such as intercultural management, intercultural communication, European Integration, green employability and resilience, which were free webinars usually on Saturday mornings. These webinars are a real added value to the student HERMES experience. Also, students will be issued with a new HERMES back pack to promote the HERMES network among their peers.
What's new in terms of organization and communication?
In organization terms, we expanded the management team by adding a permanent secretary and a treasurer and increased the strategic board to include more members form the network.
We have a new dynamic website and each school has been issued with an official frame certificate of membership of HERMES to be hung in school entrances and strategic locations. In addition, new HERMES promotional material will be distributed to each member school.
What did you learn from this experience?
During my 4 years I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as DG and enjoyed working with colleagues from around the world in the field of international higher education. It was an important time for the 25 year old association and I feel my time in office could be referred to as a “bridging role” from the first 25 years of HERMES into the next quarter century, as key founding leaders have retired and stepped back from their leadership roles. It was indeed an honor for me to have had this position.
Overall the experience was enriching at a professional and human level. It was not without its challenges and cancelling our General Assembly in New York due to the pandemic and moving the meetings online was a challenge. Similarly, not being able to meet partners physically during the Covid period was not optimal, but we managed all the same.
It is with pleasure that I hand over the position to Jens Vogelgesang from the University of Hohenheim, and it was a pleasure to have collaborated with former and current presidents Claudia Tarantola and Elke Kitzelmann and my colleagues here at EM Strasbourg, over the past 4 years. HERMES is in good hands and will continue to be an important international university network for EM Strasbourg Business school going forward.