Andrea Muller

Bridging Art and Higher Ed Abroad

Text by Melanie Picard

In July, swissnex San Francisco happily welcomed Andrea Muller to our team for a one-year sabbatical. With her she brought kids and her partner, as well as a host of projects and ideas, and she flew to San Francisco, ready to take on new challenges.

Muller, whose hometown is Geneva, has been the head of international relations at HEAD, the Geneva University of Art and Design, since 2009. But her connection with this institution goes back much further. More than a decade ago, she received a bachelor’s degree in industrial & product design from HEAD. She stayed on as an assistant to the ceramic & product design department for several years before taking over the AC/DC Symposium, which dealt with the relationship between contemporary art and contemporary design, before taking her current position.

HEAD is part of the Geneva HES-SO higher education institutions network, which brings together six different schools of applied sciences. As the school’s head of international relations, Muller faces two main challenges. First, she has to create partnerships with the best universities to create significant communities of interest and knowledge and contribute to HEAD’s visibility abroad. Second, she must deal with the constraints of the Erasmus Programme (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students), which enables European students to spend part of their studies in other European schools.

At the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010, she discovered the swissnex network through our outpost in China. Intrigued by the mission, she researched swissnex’s activities and then joined our social media program, which helps Swiss institutions of higher education to boost their use of social media. Now, she’s part of the swissnex team for the next year.

Andrea Muller

During her stay in San Francisco, Muller wears two hats. She spends most of her working hours at swissnex, but also keeps tabs on her work at HEAD 10 percent of her time. At swissnex, she brings her artistic expertise to bear in organizing events. Her other mission is to foster exchange with Swiss higher ed institutions by understanding their needs and seeking out opportunities in the Bay Area. For that she works hand in hand with swissnexSF’s head of university affairs, Vanessa Drigo, and head of life sciences, Aurélie Coulon.

In her work for HEAD, she aims to develop more strategic partnerships on the West Coast around topics including gaming, fashion design, fine arts, cinema, and more. Of course, where synergies make sense, she ensures that swissnex San Francisco and HEAD come together for great outcomes.

More than an expert in university partnerships and a culture aficionada, she’s a dedicated mother, a collaborative cookbook designer, and just a socially engaged person in general. In Geneva, the local cultural scene and community solidarity – “la vie associative” – which she describes as a field of experimentation, hold no secrets for her.

The swissnex San Francisco team is thrilled to have Muller onboard and looks forward to a productive year with her, no doubt filled with pleasant surprises along the way.