Johanna Wanka

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Johanna Wanka
Johanna Wanka MWK 2.jpg
Federal Minister of Education and Research
Assumed office
14 February 2013
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Annette Schavan
Personal details
Born (1951-04-01) 1 April 1951 (age 65)
Rosenfeld, East Germany
(now Germany)
Political party Christian Democratic Union
Spouse(s) Gert Wanka
Children 2
Alma mater Leipzig University

Johanna Wanka (née Johanna Müller; born 1 April 1951) is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and since 14 February 2013 the Federal Minister for Education and Research. From 2000 to 2009, she served as Minister for Science, Research and Culture of the state of Brandenburg, then from 2010 to 2013 she served as Minister of Science and Culture of the state of Lower Saxony, in the Cabinet McAllister.

Early life and education[edit]

Wanka was born on 1 April 1951. She attended the Polytechnic Secondary School in Großtreben and the advanced school in Torgau before studying mathematics at Leipzig University in the GDR. From 1974 on, she was a research assistant at Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, where she received her doctorate in 1980. In 1993 she became professor of engineering mathematics at Merseburg University of Applied Sciences. In March 1994, she was elected rector of that university, a position she retained until taking office as minister in October 2000.

Political career[edit]

Wanka joined the East German citizens' movement in early 1989. She was a founding member of the Neues Forum in Merseburg and was a member of the Kreistag Merseburg from 1990 until 1994. [1]

Wanka joined the CDU in 2001, the CDU executive in Brandenburg in May 2003, and became Chair of the Dahme-Spreewald district in December 2003. She was appointed Deputy National Chair of the CDU Brandenburg in January 2007, Acting National Chair in October 2008, and National Chair by January 2009.[2]

From 2000 to 2009 Wanka was the State Minister for Science, Research and Cultural Affairs of Brandenburg,[3] first in the government of Minister-President Manfred Stolpe (2000-2002) and later under his successor Matthias Platzeck (2002-2009). As such she was president of the Kultusministerkonferenz, an association of all state ministers for this area, in 2005.

From 2010 to 2013 Wanka served as State Minister of Science and Culture of the state of Lower Saxony, in the Cabinet McAllister; she became the first East German to become a minister in a state government in the former West Germany.[4] She was also a CDU delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 2010.

In February 2013, Wanka succeeded Annette Schavan as Federal Minister of Education and Research in the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the negotiations to form a coalition government following the 2013 federal elections, she led the CDU/CSU delegation in the working group on education and research; her co-chair from the SPD was Doris Ahnen.[5]

Other activities[edit]

  • Berlin-Brandenburg Institute for Franco-German Cooperation in Europe, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Braunschweigische Stiftung, Member of the Advisory Board[6]
  • Deutsche Telekom Foundation, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Deutscher Zukunftspreis, Member of the Board of Trustees[7]
  • German Forum for Crime Prevention (DFK), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Trustees[8]
  • Ernst Reuter Foundation for Advanced Study, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees[9]
  • Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Member[10]
  • Total E-Quality initiative, Member of the Board of Trustees[11]
  • Volkswagen Foundation, Member of the Board of Trustees (2012-2016)[12][13][14]

Political positions[edit]

During Wanka's term as president of the Kultusministerkonferenz, the controversial German orthography reform was put into place. After continued discussion in July 2005 about the reform which was to be put into force by August 2005, Wanka pushed the state ministers to go ahead without delays. However, few months after her term as president had ended, she was quoted by the influential German journal Der Spiegel as follows: "The Ministers of Culture have long known that the spelling reform was wrong. For reasons of state, it has not been withdrawn."

Selected publications[edit]

  • Lösung von Kontakt- und Steuerproblemen mit potentialtheoretischen Mitteln (Solution of contact and steering problems with potential-theoretical methods). Dissertation A (first dissertation) submitted to the Faculty of Technical Science and Mathematics at the Technische Hochschule Leuna, Merseburg, 1980.
  • Johanna Wanka (Ed.): Meeting of young scientists at the Fachhochschule Merseburg. Applied Science Conference. Aachen: Shaker, 2001, 216 S., ISBN 3-8265-8356-6.
  • Foreword by Johanna Wanka in - Elke Schieber (eds): The archive of the director Frank Beyer. Filmmuseum Potsdam. Potsdam, Berlin: Filmmuseum Potsdam and Cultural Foundation of the Länder, 2004, p. 88.

Personal life[edit]

Wanka is married to mathematics professor Gert Wanka with whom she has two children.


  1. ^ Brandenburgische Landeszentrale für politische Bildung (BLPB): Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka; retrieved, 9 February 2013.
  2. ^ Thorsten Metzner: „Johanna Wanka will einen Neuanfang“, Tagesspiegel, 18 January 2009.
  3. ^ "German minister quits over plagiarism scandal". Al Jazeera. 9 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Quentin Peel (September 30, 2010), Germany: An unequal union Financial Times.
  5. ^ Christian Tretbar (October 23, 2013), Sie haben sich erstmal alle umarmt Der Tagesspiegel.
  6. ^ Allgemeiner Beirat Braunschweigische Stiftung
  7. ^ Board of Trustees Deutscher Zukunftspreis.
  8. ^ Board of Trustees German Forum for Crime Prevention (DFK).
  9. ^ Board of Trustees Ernst Reuter Foundation for Advanced Study.
  10. ^ Members Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
  11. ^ Board of Trustees Total E-Quality.
  12. ^ Board of Trustees Volkswagen Foundation, Hannover.
  13. ^ Sieben neue Kuratoren Volkswagen Foundation, press release of March 21, 2012.
  14. ^ Professorin Cornelia Denz wird Mitglied im Kuratorium der VolkswagenStiftung - Eine Neubenennung und zwei Verlängerungen State Government of Lower Saxony, press release of January 6, 2017.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Annette Schavan
Minister of Education and Research