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An Overwhelming Response

Press Release No. 1/2009
20 03 2009
Heidelberg University’s campaign for the renovation of the New University homes in next on the “five senses”
The campaign “Dem lebendigen Geist. New University 2011+” has got off to a flying start. On 9 February 2009 a large banner over the entrance to the central lecture-hall building on University Square drew the attention of passers-by to the first opportunity for them to get actively involved in the renovation drive. It was an invitation to respond to the question: “What does Der lebendige Geist mean to you?” This is a reference to the dedication inscribed above the main entrance to the building: Dem lebendigen Geist (loosely translatable as “To the Creative Mind”). Six weeks later the banner has now been taken down and replaced with a selection of the best responses sent in.

The invitation to participate was addressed not only to the students and the University teaching staff but to all the citizens of Heidelberg. The response was overwhelming. Over 200 replies to the question were sent in. “How marvellous that so many people took the opportunity of sending us their stimulating and inspiring thoughts on the campaign!” enthused Professor Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University.

The responses took very different forms. Some were aphoristic, others more like brief essays. The tenor ranged from philosophical and reflective to humorous and light-hearted. “Der lebendige Geist stands for a responsive and reflective approach to oneself and to others” was one attempt at a definition. Other contributions saw it as implying “the courage to embrace freedom” or “a mind full of ideas”. So many people took part that the original deadline was extended, but even now the University is still receiving replies. For an overview, go to the website

“A society without visions is poor indeed, an anniversary without visions will never be more than a retrospective,” said Rector Bernhard Eitel in connection with the renovation and modernisation project for the central lecture-hall building. It is scheduled for completion by the 625th anniversary of Heidelberg University in 2011. The dedication over the entrance – Dem lebendigen Geist – was suggested by the famous Heidelberg literary historian Friedrich Gundolf (1880-1931). It is both the title and the central theme of a programme of events taking place up to the anniversary proper. These events, some of them interactive, all revolve around the meaning of “der lebendige Geist”. Former Federal Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl, an alumnus of Heidelberg University, has accepted the patronage of the campaign.

The second leg in the series of special events is already nearing fruition. “The five senses” is its motto and Internet users can look in at to keep tabs on the way it is progressing.

Dr. Tanja Fichtner
Heidelberg University
Dezernat für Beziehungspflege – Stiftungen – Vermögen
Marketing & Strategy
phone: +49 6221 542135
fax: +49 6221 543666

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