UniversityAcademic Ceremony to Bid Rector Bernhard Eitel Farewell and Hand Over to Frauke Melchior

Press Release No. 103/2023
29 September 2023

Many colleagues, friends, supporters and alumni are expected to attend the solemn transfer of office, along with partners from home and abroad

Ruperto Carola is marking the change in university leadership with an academic ceremony at which large numbers of members of the university are expected, along with colleagues, friends, supporters and alumni from all over the world. The outgoing Rector, Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel, will install Prof. Dr Frauke Melchior in her office as the new Rector of Heidelberg University. Expected to attend this ceremonial occasion on 7 October 2023 are also numerous presidents and rectors of partner universities in Germany and abroad, as well as leading figures from politics, society and public life, including the Science Minister of the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Geographer Bernhard Eitel has been the head of Heidelberg University since 2007. His 16-year term of office, with two re-elections, particularly featured the successful applications in the Excellence Initiative and the Excellence Strategy, the founding of the Faculty of Engineering Sciences and the advancement of the Health + Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim – a research alliance in the life sciences and medicine bringing together seven leading research institutions in the Rhine-Neckar Region. The Senate and University Council elected molecular biologist Frauke Melchior in March 2023 as the new Rector of Ruperto Carola, after Prof. Eitel ended his third period of office prematurely with an eye to the excellence competition. Prof. Melchior will take up her post as Rector on 1 October and in the coming six years will lead Heidelberg University inter alia into the new round of the Excellence Strategy competition.

The academic ceremony to bid Prof. Eitel farewell and hand over the office of Rector to Prof. Melchior will be opened by Prof. Dr Hanns-Peter Knaebel, Chairman of the University Council. Greetings will follow from Petra Olschowski, Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Science, Research and Arts, Prof. Dr Henrik C. Wegener, Rector of the University of Copenhagen as partner university in the 4EU+ European University Alliance, and Peter Abelmann, Chairman of the Constituted Student Body. The outgoing Rector will follow with a “Thank you for 16 years”. Tribute will be paid to his service to Ruperto Carola by Prof. Dr Geoffrey Boulton, Professor Emeritus of the University of Edinburgh (UK) and Chairman of the Academic Advisory Council (AAC) of Heidelberg University, as well as legal scholar Prof. Dr Thomas Pfeiffer, who supported Prof. Eitel during his terms in office as Vice-Rector and Member of the University Council. Then Prof. Eitel will commission the new Rector. In her address, Prof. Melchior will talk about “Cellular Information Processing”. The event will be framed musically by the Collegium Musicum, the orchestra and the choir of Heidelberg University, and by Prof. Dr Andreas Kruse, Senior Professor distinctus of Ruperto Carola, at the piano. 

Note for newsrooms:
For more information about the event please contact presse@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de.