HistoryRectors of Heidelberg University

Since Heidelberg University was founded in 1386, 748 rectors have directed the fortunes of Ruperto Carola. Both the tasks and decision-making powers as well as the criteria according to which they were elected changed time and again over the course of time.

In 1386, Magister Marsilius von Inghen was elected as the first rector for a term of three months, with the option of unrestricted re-election. He was nine times rector of the university. Until the middle of the 19th century very short terms of office were usual at Heidelberg University, so that a large part of the ordinaries were elected as Rector at least once, some even several times. In the face of increasing demands, many universities at that time tended to assign the office of rector only to professors with special qualifications. In 1862, the law professor Carl Adolph von Vangerow was elected as the first Rector of Ruperto Carola. Only 30 years later, this mode was abandoned again in favour of the faculty rotation. After 1945, the free election of the rector became permanent.

The extension of the rectors' term of office after 1970 had a noticeable impact on the career paths of the rectors. Only one of the twelve rectors elected after 1969 accepted a call to another university after his term of office – Adolf Laufs. Of the 25 rectors elected between 1945 and 1969, six, on the other hand, accepted a post at another university or institution at the end of their term of office. In 1966, Margot Becke, the first and so far only woman to be elected Rector of Heidelberg University, was elected.

Since 2000, the rector's term of office has been six years, as laid down in the Baden-Württemberg Universities Act. In addition, a person who is not a full-time Heidelberg professor can also be elected as Rector. The 748th Rector of Ruperto Carola, geographer Bernhard Eitel, was elected by the University Council on 1 October 2007 for a term of six years – with the possibility of a one-off re-election.

Based on the contribution in the Science Atlas of Heidelberg University by Dagmar Drüll, Manfred Zimmermann and Daniela Hesse.

Rektoren der Universität Heidelberg 1945-2011
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