Peter Gruss presented with the Harnack Medal
Former Max Planck President receives the highest distinction the Max Planck Society can confer
President Martin Stratmann has honoured his predecessor by presenting him with the Harnack Medal for his outstanding contributions to the Max Planck Society and the advancement of science. "Peter Gruss deserves this award like hardly anybody else. He has considerably shaped the profile of the Max Planck Society and provided our organization with a significant modernization boost," Stratmann said in his laudatory speech at the Plenary Assembly of the 68th Annual General Meeting in Erfurt.
Peter Gruss was President of the Max Planck Society from 2002 to 2014, and is currently the President of OIST Graduate University in Okinawa, Japan. With the Harnack medal, he is being honoured for his work in several fields, which include the structural adjustments he initiated during his time in office, such as the introduction of the Perspectives Committee and the Perspectives Council on strategic research forecast. Gruss especially strengthened the international visibility of the Max Planck Society through the foundation of institutes abroad and the establishment of Max Planck Centers. Today, Max Planck researchers collaborate with leading international research partners in 15 such Centers worldwide. Gruss also played an instrumental role in providing important impulses for the support of young researchers by expanding the International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS), initiated by his predecessor.
His strong commitment to research policy was decisive in safeguarding stable funding for basic research through the funds provided by the government and federal states via the Pact for Research and Innovation. Stratmann also acknowledged Gruss's initiative in establishing the Max Planck Foundation, through which private donors have been supporting projects of the Max Planck Society for a decade now.
Peter Gruss is the 35th recipient of the Harnack medal. The award was established in 1924. The bronze medal depicts a portrait of Adolf von Harnack, the pioneer of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft, the Max Planck Society's predecessor organization. Harnack was the first person to receive the medal. In addition to Presidents of the Max Planck Society, outstanding recipients include the German Federal Presidents Theodor Heuss, Heinrich Lübke, and Richard von Weizäcker. The Harnack medal is awarded on the basis of a proposal by the President after a decision of the Max Planck Society's Senate.