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Universität Heidelberg Celebrates its 623rd Anniversary

09 10 2009
New Honorary Senators: Hans W. Decker and Claus E. Heinrich

Heidelberg University will officially inaugurate the new academic year on Saturday, 17 October with its traditional Annual Ceremony. On this festive occasion, members of the university, as well as friends, sponsors and alumni, will gather to celebrate the university’s 623rd anniversary. This ceremony is also the customary occasion for the conferral of the status of honorary senator on persons who have displayed outstanding and wide-ranging commitment to the university. This year’s recipients are Prof. Dr. Hans W. Decker, founding president of the Heidelberg University Association in the USA, and Prof. Dr. Claus E. Heinrich, in recognition of the stalwart support he has given the University in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region. University Rector Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel will present the documents of appointment to the two new honorary senators.

The ceremony will begin with the Rector’s welcome remarks, followed by brief addresses from Dr. Ulrike Albrecht on behalf of the University Council, Prof. Dr. Heinz-Dietrich Löwe, first speaker of the Senate, and student representative Ziad Farag. The ceremony’s feature lecture will be given by Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Sonntag, newly elected pro-rector for quality development. Prof. Sonntag, a teacher and researcher at Heidelberg University’s Institute of Psychology, will speak on “Quality in Change.” There will also be a speech from the student perspective, given by Daniel Sommer of the Heidelberg Debating Club, who was voted “German vice-champion in university debating” in 2008.

The annual celebration will also be the setting for the presentation of the 2009 Klaus-Georg and Sigrid Hengstenberger Awards for young scientists and scholars. This year there are three recipients, each receiving awards of 12,500 Euros. This award is intended to provide winners the opportunity to organise symposia at the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum (IWH). A further honour goes to Hans-Jürgen Müller-Arens, the retired Ministerialdirigent at Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts, and head of its Universities and Hospitals Department until September of this year. Prof. Eitel will award Mr. Mueller-Arens the Large University Medal for his services to Heidelberg University.

Hans W. Decker, a Heidelberg University alumnus, has been appointed honorary senator “in recognition of his long years of outstanding commitment to the concerns of his alma mater in the United States of America, notably for his services as founding president and member of the executive board of the Heidelberg University Association in New York.” Claus E. Heinrich receives this distinction “for the remarkable support he has given Heidelberg University and especially for his services in integrating the University into the Business and Science network of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region.”

Heidelberg University’s Annual Celebration begins at 11 a.m. on October 17, 2009, in the Great Hall of the Old University (Grabengasse 1).

Honorary Senator Prof. Dr. Hans W. Decker

Hans W. Decker (b. 1929) studied law in Frankfurt and Heidelberg, receiving his doctorate from the Faculty of Law in Heidelberg in 1958. Following his career with Siemens AG, where he served as president of Siemens USA and deputy chair of the supervisory board of the Corporation, Prof. Decker is now an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University, New York. In addition, Prof. Decker has been active in various institutions serving academic and cultural exchange between Germany and the USA. His commitment to promoting the concerns of Heidelberg University, notably in conjunction with the Heidelberg University Association, New York, and the American alumni association, dates to 1985, when he joined the Friends of Heidelberg University and became one of the first members of the Stiftung Universität Heidelberg foundation.

Honorary Senator Prof. Dr. Claus E. Heinrich

Claus E. Heinrich (b. 1955) studied business administration at the University of Mannheim, where he received his doctorate. Prof. Heinrich wrote his dissertation on operations research in the field of production management, and amassed considerable international scholarly and academic experience in research projects at a number of American universities before joining SAP AG in 1987. Alongside his positions as head of global human resources and labor director, he also coordinates SAP development centres worldwide. In 1999, he was appointed honorary professor by Mannheim University’s Business School. Particularly notable among his services to the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region is his commitment to the Business and Science network, including the Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s clusters of excellence “Forum Organic Electronics” and “BioRN.”


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