Transforming to Excellence: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)

  • Xiaohua JiangEmail author
  • Ying Cheng
  • Qi Wang
Original Article

This paper investigates an institutional transformation at a European research university, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) by adopting a qualitative case study method. Open-ended interviews were held with 45 faculty members and administrators to investigate the driving forces and overall transformation of EPFL as well as their effects on the success of EPFL. The study reveals that the then president played an important role in driving the university’s transformation under the support of the federal government during his tenure. His strategies aimed at integrating American systems into the European context led to an improvement in the university’s academic culture, contributing greatly to the concentration of talent, the acquisition of competitive research funding, and the scientific excellence of EPFL. Furthermore, it also shows that leadership needs to gain the support from faculty members to secure a successful transformation.


University leadership Transformation World-class university EPFL 


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Copyright information

© International Association of Universities 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityMinhang DistrictChina

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