Successful Together - with Responsibility for Society and our Future

- EN - DE

Heidelberg University marks 637th anniversary of its founding - annual celebration with address by Rector

"Together we’ll cope successfully with the 2023/2024 academic year - individually, as an academic community and as the university - with responsibility for society and our future." Frauke Melchior, Rector of Ruperto Carola, made this statement in her address at the annual celebration, in which she not only reviewed the last twelve months but also presented strategic priorities for the work ahead. For the festive event - traditionally held in mid-October - numerous members of the university, as well as friends, supporters, alumni and guests, gathered in the Great Hall of the Old University to open the new academic year and, at the same time, mark the 637th anniversary of the founding of Heidelberg University. 

In her address, the Rector looked back at special events in academic life, research, student affairs and administration that had shaped the past year. For example, the new building of the European Institute for Neuromorphic Computing (EINC) - constructed with the assistance of sponsors on the Im Neuenheimer Feld campus - was officially inaugurated. The university had also successfully acquired an unusually high number of awards from the European Research Council, which, the Rector remarked, was the accomplishment of creative researchers, supported by the Heidelberg Research Service. At the same time, she recalled the musical commemoration dedicated to the biology student shot in a gun attack in 2022. In that connection, the Marie Luise Jung Prize had been awarded for the first time in April.

Sustainability, diversity and digitalisation are major cross-cutting topics, which can only be appropriately handled if the whole Rectorate takes them on board, with perspectives from all disciplines and many other stakeholders.

With an eye to upcoming activities, many of which will be related to the Excellence Strategy, Prof. Melchior introduced the new Rectorate with the Vice-Rectors Andreas Dreuw, Silke Hertel, Katja Patzel-Mattern, Karin Schumacher und Marc-Philippe Weller. Three of the five vice-rectorates have been supplemented by new strategic priorities - sustainability, diversity and digitalisation. "We find it important to emphasise, however, that they are huge cross-cutting topics, which can only be appropriated handled if the whole Rectorate takes them on board, with perspectives from all disciplines and many other stakeholders," said Prof. Melchior, who thanked the outgoing vice-rectors Jörg Pross, Anja-Désirée Senz and Matthias Weidemüller for their work. 

Academic conversation on the topic of sustainability

Sustainability as a strategic priority was the focus of the academic conversation that followed the Rector’s address. Moderator Markus Brock discussed this topic with Alexander Matt, Head of the Division of Planning, Construction and Safety, Dr Sanam Vardag from the Institute of Environmental Physics and Jale Tosun from the Institute for Political Science. Comments on the aspects of "researching, teaching, acting" also came from Dr Nicole Aeschbach from the Heidelberg School of Education, which is responsible for teacher training, and Dr Maximilian Jungmann, Executive Manager of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment. Jan Neumann, the Student Council’s Ecology and Sustainability Officer, contributed the student view of the issues.

The academic conversation focused not only on the question of how science can promote sustainability with new insights and the development of solutions but also on what the university as an institution must do itself in order to guarantee sustainable operations. "In that respect, we are not starting from scratch," Alexander Matt underlined. Besides programmes like energy management, which it can carry out with its own capacities, the university otherwise depends on the State of Baden-Württemberg, particularly when it comes to renovating buildings - that is a "permanent struggle", the head of the Construction Division emphasised. There was agreement on all sides when Jan Neumann urged: "We must take action much faster." 

Hengstberger Prize for early-career researchers

The annual celebration also saw the award of the Klaus-Georg and Sigrid Hengstberger Prize 2023 for early-career researchers. Dr Klaus-Georg Hengstberger, who sponsored the prize, presented the certificates for the awards, worth 12,500 euros each, to Dr Mélanie Chevance from the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics and Dr Anja Randecker from the Mathematical Institute, and jointly to Nicolai Futás and Dr Jonas Osnabrügge, whose research takes place at the Department of Ancient History and Epigraphy. The two prize-winners and the prize-winning team will also receive the opportunity to conduct their own scholarly symposium at the International Academic Forum Heidelberg. 

The symposium held by Nicolai Futás and Jonas Osnabrügge will deal with aspects of tourist travel in the Ancient Mediterranean. Mélanie Chevance will elucidate new perspectives on the matter cycle in galaxies opened up by the James Webb Space Telescope. Anja Randecker will focus on research questions involved in the geometry and dynamics of infinite surfaces. The prize, awarded now for the 20th time, has financed a total of 89 prize-winners with 57 projects, explained Dr Hengstberger in a short address. 

The annual celebration was accompanied musically by the chamber choir of the Collegium Musicum - the university orchestra and university choir - under the baton of University Music Director Michael Sekulla, with Esther Proppe as solo flautist.

  • Show full screen mode
  • Show full screen mode
  • Show full screen mode
  • Show full screen mode
  • Show full screen mode
  • Show full screen mode
  • Show full screen mode



Advert