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Curt Engelhorn Donates 400,000 Euros Annually to Support American Studies in Heidelberg

27 May 2008

Long-term financial security for the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, a unique institution in the German humanities and social sciences landscape

Honorary senator Curt Engelhorn, the outstanding sponsor of American Studies at the University of Heidelberg, and his wife Heidemarie have resolved to put the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) on a sound financial footing for some time to come. Over a period of ten years they will be placing an annual 400,000 euros at the disposal of the HCA. Further funding beyond that point is also possible.

This donation provides the HCA, a unique institution in Germany’s humanities and social sciences landscape, with long-term financial security. The multi-disciplinary centre was established five years ago on the basis of an initiative spearheaded by six Faculties and ten disciplines. Professor Detlef Junker was appointed founding director. In legal terms the HCA is a central academic institution of the University of Heidelberg. Financially, it is a public private partnership (PPP). The resources for the HCA are largely donated by private sponsors.

Curt Engelhorn has been a highly influential figure for the Heidelberg-Mannheim region. Between 1966 and 1997 the outstandingly successful entrepreneur contrived to make what was initially a medium-sized Mannheim company into the global Boehringer Mannheim concern. By selling the family enterprise to La Roche in 1997 he firmly established the concern on the world market, thus assuring a present total of 10,000 jobs in Germany.

In the last few years Curt Engelhorn has earned the gratitude of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region with his patronage for the Reiss-Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim and his various endowments for American Studies in Heidelberg. Thanks to his consistent support for the Schurman Library of American History, the donation of the Curt Engelhorn Chair of American History and his long-term support for the HCA, Heidelberg has become the most significant location for American Studies in the state of Baden-Württemberg. One instance of the renown the HCA enjoys is the fact that it was entrusted with the organisation of the annual assembly of the German Society of American Studies on the subject of "The American Presidency and Political Leadership” from 15 to 18 May this year.

The almost 250 participants at that event were particularly impressed by the domicile of the HCA, the "Curt und Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais” in Heidelberg’s Hauptstrasse (No. 120), a stone’s throw from Universitätsplatz square. The Engelhorn family purchased the premises some time ago and ensured the affectionate and elegant restoration of the building. Thereafter it was placed at the disposal of the HCA free of rent.

In the course of his life Curt Engelhorn has developed a very special relationship to the USA. His mother was American and he spent formative years in the USA from 1947 to 1952. Later he studied chemical engineering at the University of Texas. Throughout his professional career he has taken a passionate interest in American politics, culture, society and history. One of his most fundamental convictions is that whatever tensions may crop up in the relationship between Europe and America the only way of coping with the major challenges of the present day in a manner attuned to western ideas of freedom and democracy is to assure and maintain intensive cooperation between the Old World and the New.

Please address any inquiries to
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Junker (founding director)
University of Heidelberg
Heidelberg Center for American Studies
Hauptstrasse 120
D-69117 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/543710, fax: 543719

General inquiries from journalists can also be addressed to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
Editor: Email
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