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Curt und Heidemarie Engelhorn: 4.3 million Euros to modernise the Great Hall of the New University

Press Release No. 131/2010
16 June 2010
Rector of Ruperto Carola: “Moving sign of their deep connection to the Universität Heidelberg“
Neue Aula
Great Hall in the New University

Curt and Heidemarie Engelhorn, whose bond with Heidelberg University has developed over years of commitment to the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, have again granted the university a donation valued in the millions. The couple’s gift of 4.3 million Euros is earmarked for the remodelling of the Great Hall in the New University building complex, which is being renovated in honour of the 625th anniversary of Ruperto Carola. “The exceptionally generous support of this undertaking on the part of the two honorary senators is a moving sign of their deep connection to Heidelberg University,” said Rector Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel in expressing his personal gratitude to the Engelhorns.

The refurbishment of the central lecture-hall building in the Old Town of Heidelberg is the focus of the “Dem Lebenden Geist” initiative, named after the inscription over the entrance to the New University. Friends, benefactors and alumni of the university have worked tirelessly in support of the 625th anniversary of the founding of Heidelberg University to raise most of the 10.4 million Euros needed for the modernisation project.

The Great Hall will not only be appointed with new lighting and media equipment, but with state-of-the art heating and air conditioning. While in keeping with the building’s historical designation, the comprehensive new design and furnishings are intended to support a myriad of uses from lectures and congresses to celebrations for e.g. anniversaries and the award of doctoral degrees. The Engelhorns’ generosity also enables the repair of the organ in the Great Hall, which has been unusable for decades. New pipes will be added, transforming it from a church organ into a one-of-a-kind concert-hall organ for the southern German region.

The New University was built in 1930/31 with donations from America. Jacob Gould Schurman, then U.S. Ambassador to Germany and an alumnus with close ties to Heidelberg University, initiated this campaign. The three parts of the New University building complex include the main building on the south side of University Square, which houses the Great Hall and most of the lecture halls. The west wing on Grabengasse contains the Department of History, the Medieval Latin Library, and lecture halls 12/12a and 13. The south wing on Seminarstraße holds additional sections of the Department of History, the Institute of Franconian-Palatine History and Area Studies and the Department of Eastern European History.


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