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Carola Lentz, President of the Goethe Institute

Photo: Jens Kalaene/dpa

In the middle of times of severe austerity, the President of the Goethe-Institut, Carola Lentz, will no longer be available for the position when her term of office ends in November. This was confirmed by the institution, which is considered Germany's global cultural flagship.

After four years at the helm of the Goethe-Institut, the 69-year-old wants to focus again on her academic work as an ethnologist, according to a statement from the Goethe-Institut. Lentz was professor of ethnology at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz from 2002 to 2019. She has been a senior research professor in Mainz since 2019. She took up the honorary position at the head of the Goethe-Institut in November 2020.

“I found working with the great team at the Goethe-Institut to be very enriching both personally and thematically,” says Lentz. "In view of the numerous geopolitical upheavals and the resulting challenges for the Goethe-Institut, responsible leadership is not compatible with the time requirements of research work." In a guest article for SPIEGEL, Lentz recently insisted on the independence of cultural work and proposed it warned of a lot of political influence.

Lentz carefully managed the Goethe-Institut at a time of great upheaval and crisis, said Ralf Beste, head of the cultural department at the Federal Foreign Office. "She also recognized the need for transformation and actively supported the reform process in the executive board in order to position the institute well for the future."

The Goethe Institute, with its 158 institutes in 98 countries, is sticking to the controversial savings. In Europe in particular, institutes are to close, other locations are to be downsized or merged. 130 employees are affected by the job cuts in the international network. This means that up to 24 million euros from structural costs will be converted into project funds over the next three years. The 2024 budget is around 432 million euros, 232 of which come from federal funds.

According to the Goethe Institute, after Lentz's announced departure, an election committee consisting of members of the executive committee will now coordinate the successor. The new president will be elected by the executive board. Following the confirmation by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, the start of office is scheduled for November 19, 2024.