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1 December 1999

New Psychology Section of the "Friends of the University"

In Germany graduate identification with the Faculty is stronger than with University as a whole – Prof. Funke: "The beginning of a new friendship between the Institute of Psychology and its alumni"

At a celebration in the bel étage of the Old University today, Chairman of the Society of Friends of the University, Andreas Epple, referred to the foundation of the new Psychology Section of the Society under the name of "Alumni, Friends and Sponsors of the Institute of Psychology" as a "new chapter in the history of the Friends of the University of Heidelberg." The idea for the Section stems from the realisation that "in Germany graduate identification with the Faculty appears to be stronger than with the University as a whole" (Epple). Institute director Prof. Dr. Joachim Funke spoke of "the beginning of a new friendship between the Institute of Psychology and its alumni."

"Membership in the Society of Friends is an outward and visible sign of allegiance to the alma mater," said Epple. Thus it was a logical step to strengthen the expression of this allegiance at Faculty level. In addition, he continued, many tasks devolving on the Society can be fulfilled more specifically and hence more effectively at this level, going on to compare the constellation with a sports club in which there are various divisions and departments because this is the best way of catering for all the different interests of its members. Epple: "This new improved structure and the attendant excitement and anticipations it has generated – first among the psychologists – is ample reason to celebrate." The new agreement is not just a special initiative for the Institute of Psychology but a basis "on which the foundation of further Sections is equally possible." Epple reported on promising ground-breaking consultations with other Faculties.

The chairman of the Society said that the Institute of Psychology is confident that it will be able to attract a three-figure number of new members in this way. He also felt that at Faculty level the efforts to win new members for the Society as a whole would be more efficient. "As of now it appears entirely feasible to set our sights at a figure in the vicinity of 2,000" (Epple). In times of increasing pressure such an increase in the body of Friends would be a valuable support for the University.

Prof. Funke: "This first 'offshoot' of the Society will hopefully be followed by many others"

Speaking next, Prof. Joachim Funke said that the Institute of Psychology was overjoyed at the foundation of the Psychology Section of the Society. This first "offshoot, hopefully to be followed by many others" served to cater for the specific interests of former graduates of the Institute, he said. "Our alumni now have a platform enabling them to maintain contact both amongst themselves and with the Institute."

One of the spin-offs of the new Section is the first-time decision by the Institute to organise a festive graduation ceremony on 28 January 2000 at which "teachers, graduates and their families, friends and relatives can join to celebrate the completion of an important stage in the graduates' lives" (Funke). This could also be the beginning of a new friendship between the Institute and the alumni, finding concrete expression in a decision to join the Section. "We hope," said Funke, "that as many of our alumni as possible will avail themselves of this option and become members of our Section."

Please address any inquiries to:
Prof. Dr. Joachim Funke
phone: 06221/547305, fax: 547273

or : Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

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