UniversityAnnual Celebration: Opening of the New Academic Year

Press Release No. 108/2023
17 October 2023

Heidelberg University celebrates the 637th anniversary of its founding – address by Rector Frauke Melchior

Ruperto Carola is opening the 2023/2024 Academic Year with its traditional annual celebration in mid-October. Members of the university, along with friends, supporters and alumni, will at the same time mark the 637th anniversary of the founding of Heidelberg University. After an address by the Rector, an academic conversation on the topic of sustainability will be at the centre of the event on 21 October 2023. In addition, this year’s winners of the Hengstberger Prize will present their work to the university public.

The Rector of Heidelberg University, Prof. Dr Frauke Melchior, will open the annual celebration in the Great Hall of the Old University with welcoming remarks and an address. In the following academic conversation on “Sustainability: Researching, Teaching, Acting”, representatives from different areas of the university will address the question of how science can promote sustainability with new findings and the development of solutions, and what the university itself must do as an institution to ensure sustainable operation. The speakers are Dr Nicole Aeschbach from the Heidelberg School of Education, which is responsible for teacher training, Dr Maximilian Jungmann from the Heidelberg Center for the Environment, the environmental science research centre at Ruperto Carola, and Prof. Dr Jale Tosun, who conducts research at the Institute for Political Science on the topic of climate policy, among other things. Also on the panel are Dr Sanam Vardag from the Institute of Environmental Physics, Alexander Matt, Head of the Division of Planning, Construction and Safety at Heidelberg University, and Jan Neumann, the Student Council’s Ecology and Sustainability Officer.

During the annual celebration, the 2023 Klaus-Georg and Sigrid Hengstberger Prize for early-career researchers will also be presented. The three awards, each endowed with 12,500 euros, go to Dr Mélanie Chevance from the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics and Dr Anja Randecker from the Mathematical Institute, as well as Nicolai Futás and Dr Jonas Osnabrügge, who work at the Department of Ancient History and Epigraphy. The award comes with an opportunity for the prize-winners to hold their own scientific symposia at the International Academic Forum Heidelberg. Nicolai Futás and Jonas Osnabrügge’s symposium will take up the topic of touristic travelling in the ancient Mediterranean. Mélanie Chevance will address new perspectives on the matter cycle in galaxies opened by the James Webb Space Telescope. Research questions pertaining to the geometry and dynamics of surfaces will be the focus of the event organised by Anja Randecker.

The musical setting of the annual celebration will be provided by members of the Collegium Musicum, the university orchestra and choir, conducted by University Music Director Michael Sekulla. Markus Brock will be the presenter for the event.

On 23 October 1385, Pope Urban IV approved the founding of Heidelberg University by Count Palatine and Elector Palatine Rupert I in Heidelberg. Teaching at the university’s initially three faculties of theology, jurisprudence and philosophy began one year later, on 18 October 1386. Medicine followed two years later in 1388.

Note for newsrooms:
The annual celebration, which is open to the university public, will take place in the Great Hall of the Old University and begin at 11 am.