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13 February 2001

Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff Next Rector of the University of Heidelberg

Law professor elected by University Senate on 13 February — Selection committee chaired by Dr. Ulrich Cartellieri — Prof. Hommelhoff outlined his main priorities for his period in office (2001 to 2007) in the Great Hall of the Old University

Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff

At its meeting today, the Senate of the University of Heidelberg elected law professor Peter Hommelhoff Rector of the University of Heidelberg from 1 October 2001 to 30 September 2007. Prof. Hommelhoff is vice-chairman of the University Council and Director of the Institute of German and European Company and Business Law, University of Heidelberg. Prior to the election Hommelhoff outlined his major priorities for a six-year term of office extending to September 2007.

The future Rector of the University of Heidelberg was born in Hamburg in 1942. After national service with the German Navy he started studying law at the Free University of Berlin, moving from there to Tübingen and Freiburg. In 1968 Hommelhoff passed his First State Examination in Freiburg and embarked on his post-graduate civil/judicial service training. After the Second State Examination (Stuttgart 1971) he worked as a lawyer in Freiburg, later (1972) joining the legal department of an energy supply company as in-house lawyer. He obtained his doctorate at the University of Freiburg in 1973, the doctoral thesis being on the subject of "Defect Liability in the Purchase of Enterprises".

In 1974 Hommelhoff became assistant to Prof. Dr. Lutter at the Chair of German and European Commercial and Business Law, University of Bochum. In 1981 he obtained the Habilitation at the University of Bochum with a thesis on "Company Central Management Duties". In the same year Hommelhoff declined the offer of an appointment to a chair at the Technical University Berlin and accepted the Chair of Civil Law/Commercial and Business Law at the University of Bielefeld.

In 1983 he was appointed judge (in secondary office) at the Regional Appeal Court. In 1988 he declined the offer of an appointment to the Chair of Civil Law and Company Law at the University of Münster. In Bielefeld Hommelhoff was Dean of the Faculty of Law.

In Heidelberg since 1990

In 1990 Peter Hommelhoff was given the Chair of Civil Law/Commercial and Business Law and Comparative Law at the University of Heidelberg. Since 1992 he has been spokesman for the long-term collaborative research project "Company Organisation and Company Activity according to German, European and International Law". From 1993 to 1995 he was Dean of the Faculty of Law. Since 1995 he has been a member of the greater executive board of the Association of Civil Law Teachers, since 1996 a member of the Permanent Committee on Study and Teaching of the Standing Conference of University Rectors.

In 1997 Hommelhoff became acting editor of the Zeitschrift für Unternehmens- und Gesellschaftsrecht (Corporation Law Journal), joined the Administrative Council of the University of Heidelberg and received the Max Planck Research Prize for international cooperation. Since 1998 he has been the University of Heidelberg's commissioner for exchange relations with the Jagiellonian University of Cracow and spokesman of the executive board of the Company Law Association. In the same year he declined the offer of a professorship at the Institute of Family Enterprise of the Private University of Witten-Herdecke.

In 1999 the future Rector was awarded the Medal of Honour of the Jagiellonian University of Cracow. In 2000 Prof. Hommelhoff took over chairmanship of the work group on "Reform of Education for Lawyers" of the Standing Conference of University Rectors and was appointed vice-chairman of the University Council of Heidelberg University. He is married to Margret Hommelhoff and has two children.

Twelve "Priority Concerns" for 2001 — 2007

Before his election Hommelhoff had outlined the guiding principles and insights underlying the objectives he will be setting out to achieve as Rector. Here are the 12 "Priority Concerns" in full:

  1. In the next few years competition will be an increasingly operative factor determining the national and international relations between universities (and their faculties and departments). As things stand, the University of Heidelberg is in a good position to face up to this challenge in many areas.
  2. But if it is not to lag behind, there are still a number of things the University needs to do in a bid to assure large-scale modernisation and to step up its international connections and standing. The following 10 priorities should be part of this programme:
  3. The strongholds of excellence already existing need to be made more numerous and extended across larger units.
  4. In some subjects the specific Heidelberg profile needs to be more sharply accentuated, both in research and notably in teaching.
  5. At department, institute and faculty level we need more international collaboration, particularly with universities in the English-speaking world, without of course in any way neglecting our existing partnerships.
  6. The university should initiate courses in English, notably for foreign students. At the same time, obligatory German courses should be provided for these students.
  7. Bachelor degrees need to be carefully integrated into existing courses. Additional Masters degrees are of especial relevance for graduate courses. Great care needs to be exercised in deciding whether in individual cases they might perhaps usefully replace existing Diplom degrees, especially where the latter are widely acknowledged as a token of proven excellence.
  8. At the research level there is a definite need to encourage research networks notably in the arts and humanities. The same applies to research organisations.
  9. The modernisation and internationalisation processes themselves will need to be largely powered by the institutes, departments and faculties. Their structure and development plans will be the foundation for the materialisation and concretisation of an evolution in this direction. While the Rectorate should concentrate on stimulating processes of this kind, this does not mean that it will not take the initiative in such matters wherever this is indicated.
  10. In future the financial scope available to the university will also need to be used as a source of tangible appreciation for ideas and achievements. To this end comprehensive evaluations over time will be necessary.
  11. Within the University there is a need to initiate processes and procedures for information and consultation, harmonisation of interests and appropriate decision-making and to optimise them on the basis of practical experience. An integral part of this will be direct encounters between the Rector's office and the people engaged in research and teaching at faculty and department levels.
  12. Relations between the University and policy-makers need to be deepened and optimised at all levels."

Recent photos of Prof. Hommelhoff are available from the Press Office of the University.

Please address any inquiries to:
Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff
phone: 06221/547274, fax: 547614

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 22.02.2001


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