Secretary General

Dr. Georg Schütte, Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation
Photo: Philip Bartz for Volkswagen Foundation

As of 1 January 2020, Dr. Georg Schütte is the new Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation. The private foundation, based in Hanover,  is dedicated to the support of the humanities and social sciences as well as  science and technology in research and higher education  with around 150 million euros annually and, with a capital of 3.2 billion euros, is one of the largest foundations in Europe.


Dr. Schütte, born 1962 in Rheine, studied journalism at the TU Dortmund and television and radio at the City University of New York from 1984. He completed his studies in 1989 with a Master of Arts degree. In the frame of his doctorate from 1989-1994, the media and communication scholar conducted research at the DFG Collaborative Research Center "Screen Media" at the University of Siegen and as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University in 1992. 


Dr. Schütte then held lectureships at various universities and worked at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn, where from 1998-2001 he headed the policy department. He subsequently moved to Berlin as Director of the German-American Fulbright Commission (2001-2003). Following this, he returned to Bonn in 2004 as Secretary General of the Humboldt Foundation.

In December 2009, Dr. Schütte was appointed State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) by the then Minister Annette Schavan. In this function, Dr. Schütte was particularly involved in the areas of research funding, European research policy and international scientific cooperation. From 2018 to 2019, he was in charge of negotiations at State Secretary level between the Federal Government and the Länder on the future financing of the German science system and was responsible for the ministry’s budget. On 28 June 2019, Dr. Schütte was elected by the Board of Trustees of the Volkswagen Foundation to succeed Dr. Wilhelm Krull as Secretary General. He left the BMBF on 31 October 2019.

The way to the Volkswagen Foundation

Dr. Schütte is closely familiar with the work and organization of the Volkswagen Foundation from his time as a member of the Board of Trustees (2013-2018). The Foundation's highest decision-making body consists of 14 personalities, half of whom are appointed by the German government and half by the state government of Lower Saxony. Dr. Schütte held the office of Deputy Chairperson.


Over the years, Dr. Schütte has held supervisory board positions in various scientific organizations. He was a member of the university councils of the Universities of Bonn and Siegen, the founding supervisory board of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Berlin Institute for Health Research (BIG), the supervisory board of the Society for Heavy Ion Research (GSI), the International Council of the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR), the supervisory board of the Futurium Berlin, the board of trustees of the Max Planck Institute for Art History - Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, and the senates of the Helmholtz and Leibniz Associations. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Fulbright Alumni e.V.

Personal life

Dr. Schütte is married and has two adult children. He finds balance and new ideas not least in jogging and long walks. He finds reading not a burden, but always a joy.

Previous Secretaries General of the Volkswagen Foundation:

  • Dr. Wilhelm Krull 1996 - 2019
  • Rolf Möller 1983 - 1995
  • Dr. Walter Borst 1976 - 1982
  • Dr. Rudolf Kerscher, Dr. Werner Seifart 1975 – 1976 (acting Secretaries General)
  • Dipl.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Gotthard Gambke 1962 - 1975