Schönen guten Tag

Schönen guten Tag...

2024 semester colloquium: memories with a twinkle in the eye at the farewell to Professor Gregor Snelting

At the end of the winter semester, the KIT Faculty of Computer Science traditionally comes together for a colloquium to review the past semester together. This year, the Gerhard Goos lecture hall was particularly well filled, and for good reason: Prof. Gregor Snelting was retiring.

After a brief review of faculty life over the past six months, with new appointments and successes, Dean Prof. Bernhard Beckert recalled the first meeting with Gregor Snelting in 1993 at a GI specialist group meeting; he himself was still a doctoral student at the time and Snelting was just a young professor in Braunschweig. In 2008, they met again in Karlsruhe, where Gregor Snelting had been appointed Head of the Chair of Programming Paradigms after a stint in Passau.

Both Bernard Beckert and keynote speaker Joachim Breitner, a former doctoral student of Gregor Snelting, described him as a "very committed university lecturer who campaigned for quality in teaching and for better structures in everyday university life, even if this sometimes caused offense". His work was always characterized by the aspiration to optimally combine practical benefits with theoretical principles. "Theory without practice is barren, but practice without theory is sterile", this motto permeated his work at KIT as a lecturer, doctoral supervisor and scientist.

He achieved a great deal for the faculty: he was involved in setting up several important compulsory lectures such as "Programming" and established a practical team project with "Practice of Software Development", thus firmly anchoring project-oriented work in the degree program. His lectures were demanding but popular with the students; his welcoming words "Schönen guten Tag, meine Damen und Herren" have become legendary and "ennobled" with a meme on reddit. His lectures and tutorials won several awards, and he himself was twice awarded the Faculty Teaching Prize. In his entertaining speech entitled "The elephant in the room", which was peppered with many a funny anecdote, Joachim Breitner reminisced about his time as a doctoral student at Snelting. At the beginning of the doctoral period, you had to earn the trust of the chair both professionally and with the odd visit to a beer garden. But once that was achieved, Prof. Snelting understood his role as doctoral supervisor quite literally and stood fully behind his doctoral candidates. He always had their backs and enabled them to plan their doctorates without bureaucratic hurdles, but also demanded a great deal of independence and self-discipline from the doctoral candidates. Gregor Snelting was also very active in university politics; as Dean of Studies from 2017 to 2023, he was the contact person for all questions relating to teaching, and for eight years he represented the interests of the faculty as an elected member of the KIT Senate.

Gregor Snelting wanted to make a difference, address grievances and improve things; whether it was software and programming on the one hand, the education of students on the other, or university and science policy matters.

In general, as Joachim Breitner noted, he had (and still has) high expectations of himself and his work, but also of others.

We hope that the Faculty can continue to adhere to these principles in his spirit and constantly strive for change and improvement.

We wish Professor Snelting all the very best for his upcoming retirement and hope to be able to welcome him back to KIT from time to time.