More than two decades ago when Karsten Lehmkuhl, a trained radio and television technician joined the University of Bremen, he determined his nickname by choosing “Lemmi” for his email address. Today, the friendly head is known as Lemmi throughout the whole campus.
He coordinates interfaces and resources which involve everyone – as administrative unit head, Karsten “Lemmi” Lehmkuhl is responsible for room planning and allocation, media procurement and the media office, as well as the post.
“I have a split personality,” he jokes with regard to his many duties. In his office, screens can be seen flickering, sophisticated electronics are incorporated in the meeting table and the telephone rings quietly but often. A sign hangs over his desk that reads “Situation under control.” His wife gave him this and she should know. In the daily deluge of demands, he is a bastion of calm. “I have two great bosses, the Director of Finance and Administration and the department leader and fantastic teams in all three areas,” he emphasizes on several occasions during our interview.
Rooms Free on Mondays
To plan all the rooms for lectures and seminars and also find the suitable areas for conferences and events is a challenge which he faces anew every semester. 7,000 lectures need to be accommodated in the winter semester and 6,000 in the summer semester. “I would really need 1,000 rooms,” he says but he only has 107. “Tuesdays and Thursdays is primetime,” says Lehmkuhl and points to the huge screen on the front wall of his office in GW2. This depicts how the seminars and lectures are interlinked with one another – an impressive display. “It can happen that a room is used nonstop from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.,” says the administrative unit head and laughs: “Something is always available Monday mornings between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.”
A Dream of a Learning World for Students
In the media office next door, it’s possible to borrow audiovisual communication media – anything from projectors and photo cameras to dictation devices. “We are also responsible for the maintenance and upkeep and control and programming,” says Karsten Lehmkuhl. He and his team “particularly enjoy” the latter, the creative field. “We program and develop our own software, make the equipment user-friendly, i.e. lecturer friendly (grins), and continuously learn about the latest technology at exhibitions and on courses.” The membership in the Working Group of University Media Centers (AMH) is also inspiring. With this, Karsten Lehmkuhl and his team can learn about and compare the facilities of the other universities. “In comparison, we’re in a good position,” he says. His dreams and visions include a “learning world” for students with intelligent networking, state-of-the-art equipment, multimedia tables and mobile partition walls. “Perhaps this will come with the new seminar center,” he hopes.
“We are service providers and the students and lecturers are the customers.”
“Everything Is Possible”
Behind all this work and enjoyment in the job is also a philosophy: “Everything is possible. We are service providers and the students and lecturers are the customers,” he says explaining his conviction. “We fulfil peoples’ wishes without seeing them and, in this, we sometimes have to work a little magic.” Anyone who looks closely will notice that the event office is made out of glass and the doors of the adjoining rooms of the media office are wide open. Transparency is key. However, Lemmi who is usually friendly and helpful can also get quite cross particularly when care isn’t taken with resources. The most recent example: in a well-equipped room, a lecturer taped her paper teaching materials onto 75-inch screens (which cost 3,500 euros each). “I nearly went through the roof.” Graffiti and random placarding also really annoy him and if this happens, he often takes photos and looks for the perpetrators.
As an expert in the field, Karsten Lehmkuhl also sees how digital dependency is increasing amongst the younger generation and how it can lead to a loss of a sense of reality. He has three children – a grown-up daughter and 16-year-old twins. “I make sure that they’re not always stuck behind the screen and, instead, maintain their social contacts,” he says. In their home town of Delmenhorst, all three are in the handball team (HSG) – the boys as top players and the father as a co-trainer. The team is so good that they go on long-distance tours through Lower Saxony at the weekends. “I drive a good 1,000 kilometers a month,” he says proudly. No question: whether in his job or in sport, Karsten Lehmkuhl is in control of the situation.