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University of Heidelberg Elects its Next Rector

27 March 2007

The University Council, Senate and Rectorate are pleased to announce the future Rector of the University of Heidelberg: Professor Dr. Bernhard Eitel

Der zukünftige Rektor der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg: Professor Dr. Bernhard Eitel  

The University Council, the Senate and the Rectorate take great pleasure in announcing the name of the future Rector of the University of Heidelberg: Professor Dr. Bernhard Eitel. Professor Eitel is a well-known personality not only in the University itself but also in a variety of circles concerned more or less closely with higher education. In the past Professor Eitel has been a member of various bodies ands committees, where he has proved his diplomatic and political skill in dealing with important questions concerning not only the conduct of everyday affairs at his own university but also higher-education policy issues in a broader context. The geographer Bernhard Eitel is a scientist of considerable international renown with a keen interest in the humanities and social sciences.

Born in 1959, Bernhard Eitel is married and has two children. After studying geography and Germanic studies at the University of Karlsruhe, he obtained his doctorate and Habilitation in physical geography at the University of Stuttgart. In 1995 he accepted the offer of a professorial post from the University of Passau, subsequently turning down two further offers from the Universities of Göttingen and Bayreuth before accepting the appointment to the chair of physical geography at the University of Heidelberg in 2001. The fact that his present university has truly become his new home is borne out by the commitment with which he has involved himself in the work of the various bodies responsible for its academic administration. His research interests range from geomorphology, Quarternary and dryland research to geoarchaeology, in areas extending from the deserts of the southern hemisphere to the Arctic.

At a time when interest is keen to see how Germany's oldest university will acquit itself in the ongoing Initiative for Excellence contest, Bernhard Eitel has set himself a number of ambitious objectives in guiding the University of Heidelberg through the challenging years in store for it.

For his period in office, which begins on 1 October 2007, and for his future duties as Rector of the University of Heidelberg the University Council, the Senate and the Rectorate wish Professor Eitel every possible success.


1966-1969 Junior school in Haslach (Kraichgau)
1969-1979 Gengenbach grammar school, Abitur (A Levels): Scheffel Prize 1979
1979-1980 Military service in Nagold and Müslingen
1980-1986 Student of geography and Germanic studies Technical University of Karlsruhe, overall grade in final exams: 1.0 (very good)
1986-1989 Non-professorial co-researcher, Institute of Geography and Geoecology, Technical University of Karlsruhe
1989 Non-professorial co-researcher, Institute of Geography, University of Stuttgart; doctoral degree (with distinction) at the University of Stuttgart, Faculty of Earth Sciences and Biosciences, supervisor: Prof. Dr. W. D. Blümel (Institute of Geography, University of Stuttgart); second corrector: Prof. Dr. M. Gwinner (Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, University of Stuttgart). title of dissertation: "Morphogenesis in the southern Kraichgau with special reference to Tertiary and Pleistocene cover sediments. A contribution to the landscape history of south-west Germany".
1989-1995 Akademischer Rat at the Institute of Geography, University of Stuttgart
18.5.1994 Habilitation at the University of Stuttgart, title of the dissertation: "Calcium-rich cover sediments and calcrete generations in Namibia: Origin and mobilisation of calcium carbonate".
1.5.1995 Appointment as professor (C3), University of Passau
since 1995 Full professor (C4), Chair of physical geography, Institute of Geography, University of Heidelberg


  • geomorphology: relief development, geomorphological processes esp. materials transport in dryland areas, glacial geomorphology
  • geoecology: desertification, landscape degradation, anthropogenic geo-morphodynamics, evaluation of geoecological resources
  • Quarternary research: prehistoric climates, climate development, cover sediment research, (palaeo-)environmental research, landscape-ecological change, landscape history
  • soil geography: soil distribution and use, pedogenesis dependent on recent and prehistoric erosion processes, soils as geoecological archives
  • geoarchaeology: Man and the environment in the Holocene

Professor Eitel has pursued these research interests in various regions of the world, most notably

  • southern Germany
  • south-west Africa, esp. Kalahari, Namib, Damaraland, Kaokoveld
  • southern Peru, esp. northern Atacama, Andes/western Cordilleras
  • Arctic, esp. northern Svalbard (Spitsbergen)
  • France, esp. Pyrenees, La Réunion


19.7.1994 elected to the executive committee of the Geomorphology Working Group of the German Geographic Society (DGfG) and the International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG)
10.2002-10.2006 chairman of the Geomorphology Working Group of DGfG and IAG
1997-2001 member of the committee of experts on geography / Bavarian Ministry of Education
since 2001 deputy representative of the DGfG at the Conference of Geoscientific Divisions at Universities of the Federal Republic of Germany ("GEO-Konferenz")
since 2002 member of the presidential committee of the GeoUNion (Alfred Wegner Foundation) as representative of the Association of Geographers at German Universities (VGDH)
since 2002 member of the executive commission of the IAG Working Group on "Interaction between fluvial, aeolian and lacustrine processes in arid regions"
since 2004 member of the Management Group of UNESCO-IGCP 500 ("Westerlies and monsoons: impacts of climate change and variability of dryland environments, hydrology and people")
2005 member of the commission of the state of Lower Saxony on the evaluation of research in geography at the universities of Lower Saxony
2005 accreditor for ASIIN (Regional Studies course at the Technical University of Karlsruhe)
since 10/2006 scientific advisor in the Geomorphology Working Group for relations to the GeoUnion (Alfred Wegner Foundation)

Academic Administration

10/2000-9/2001 member elect of the Divisional Council of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Passau as representative of the group of professors
10/2002-9/2004 Dean for earth sciences at the Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences, University of Heidelberg
10/2004-10/2006 Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences, University of Heidelberg
10/2004-10/2006 Dean of the Joint Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of Heidelberg
since 2006 Dean for earth sciences, Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences, University of Heidelberg

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317


Editor: Email
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