MourningHeidelberg Gerontologist Ursula Lehr is Mourned

26 April 2022

The founder of the first institute for gerontology in Germany has died at the age of 91

Heidelberg University mourns its alumna Prof. Dr Ursula Lehr, founder of the first institute for gerontology in Germany. The former federal family minister and academic at Ruperto Carola passed away on 25 April 2022 at the age of 91.

Ursula Lehr

After professorships at the universities of Cologne and Bonn, psychologist Ursula Lehr took over the first German chair of gerontology at Ruperto Carola in 1986 and became the founding director of the Institute of Gerontology. With her work, she established ageing research as a discipline in Germany. Appointed Federal Minister of Youth, Family Affairs, Women and Health at the end of 1988, she expanded policies on senior citizens and in 1989 initiated the federal government’s First Report on the Elderly. With her departure from office in 1991, she returned to Heidelberg University. Apart from directing its Gerontology Institute – she belonged to the Federal Parliament at the same time until 1994 – Prof. Lehr served as academic director of the German Centre for Ageing Research from 1995 to 1998, which was based at Ruperto Carola until 2005. In 1998 she became emeritus professor at Heidelberg University. Beside numerous other honorary offices, Ursula Lehr chaired the German National Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations. Amongst other awards, Prof. Lehr was honoured with the Great Cross of Merit with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for her academic and socio-political achievements.

“Ursula Lehr influenced international gerontology as an excellent, remarkably innovative researcher in an outstanding way. As a highly esteemed academic teacher, she succeeded time and again in enthusing students for her discipline. And she was a profoundly humane person, who was personally moved by the practical concerns and cares of older people,” says Prof. Dr Andreas Kruse, the longstanding director of the Institute of Gerontology and Prof. Lehr’s successor.