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Sun., 03/13/2022
11:15 am
The reception

Opening Ceremony for the anniversary year

Location: Audimax, Universität Paderborn
Address: Warburger Str. 100, 33098 Paderborn

You can find all information about the journey here.

Ceremonial opening of the anniversary year at the Paderborn University


The Paderborn University celebrated the opening of its 50th anniversary year on Sunday 13. March, together with about 200 guests from science, business, politics and other friends of the university. For the first time, the traditional New Year’s reception with speeches, award ceremonies and musical highlights in the Auditorium Maximum, could be followed via livestream. “A 50-year celebration is an anniversary of a special kind. It offers an opportunity to look back, take stock and re-evaluate oneself and, last but not least, to develop new perspectives and visions,” emphasised University President Prof. Dr. Birgitt Riegraf in her address this year on the development of the university.

Among those offering congratulations was Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, Minister for Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. “Universities are of crucial importance for the scientific, economic, social and cultural development of our state – and so is the Paderborn University. Since its foundation 50 years ago, it has developed from a former Institute of Higher Education into a strong research-based and future-oriented University. The positive development of student numbers, the development of the five inter-faculty specialist areas and numerous successes in the transfer of theory to practice as well as in internationalisation are particularly important,” said Minister Pfeiffer-Poensgen. The University is also an important partner for the state of NRW in the training and development of teachers, she emphasised, with reference to the Paderborn Teacher Training Centre (PLAZ).

Due to the current situation, Pfeiffer-Poensgen and Riegraf also turned their attention to the Ukraine and emphasised the role of universities in this crisis. “These days we are all shocked by the brutal war of aggression by Putin’s government against the Ukraine, which is at the same time an aggression against international security and open democratic societies. The Paderborn University sees itself as a cosmopolitan university that promotes international exchange and diversity of opinion. Therefore, we are all looking for ways to help, to be in solidarity with and to organise support,” the university president emphasised.


Review and outlook

In her speech, Riegraf looked back at the past year and at the same time linked it to the anniversary motto “Celebrating the future”. “The Paderborn University has developed quite exceptionally, even under the pandemic conditions,” said the President. With the Collaborative Research Centre “Constructing Explainability” approved in 2021, which is being conducted under the leadership of Paderborn psycholinguist Prof. Dr. Katharina Rohlfing in cooperation with Bielefeld University, the Paderborn University now has a collaborative project, for the first time across the five faculties, that is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). “This is a great success that makes the performance of Paderborn’s scientists even more visible nationally and internationally and strengthens the sustainability of Paderborn as a university location,” Riegraf noted.

The Paderborn University is also developing spatially. While the construction of the Akzelerator.OWL, which is to become a new home for the start-up scene in East Westphalia-Lippe, has just begun, the new high-performance computing centre and home of the Noctua supercomputer has now been completed. “The visible successes of our university in the field of high-performance computing are proof of the excellence and importance of computational sciences and an important location factor that will continue to be developed in the future. Furthermore, with the Institute for Photonic Quantum Systems (PhoQS) at the Paderborn University under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Christine Silberhorn, a nationally and internationally unique interdisciplinary research infrastructure is currently being established,” the President was pleased to say.


History in the conflict between the humanities and the natural sciences

This year’s keynote speaker was Prof. Dr. Matthias Wemhoff, archaeologist and director of the Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin, who has special ties to the Paderborn University through his honorary professorship and as a founding member of the Paderborn Institute for Interdisciplinary Research into the Middle Ages and its Aftermath (IEMAN). His lecture focused on Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of Troy, and the importance of the subject of history for society. “History is needed to judge and classify things – it cannot simply be ignored. For a stable society, the humanities and natural sciences must be in collaboration with each other,” Wemhoff summed up.


Awards for outstanding academic achievements

As is customary at the New Year’s Reception, the ceremonial setting was also used to honour Paderborn scientists and students for their outstanding achievements. [Hyperlink einfügen] The 2021 Research Prize – the most valuable prize awarded by the Paderborn University – went to Jun. – Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Steinrück from the Faculty of Natural Sciences for his research into desalination methods in the fight against global water shortages. [Hyperlink einfügen] Dissertation prizes, prizes from the Paderborn University Society and a prize from the German Academic Exchange Service for international students were also awarded.


A diverse programme

Ulrich Lettermann, who is a lecturer in music at the Paderborn University, moderated the ceremony and interviewed, among others, Gerrit Pape, vice-chairman of the General Students’ Committee (AStA), about the current situation of students. In order to revive campus life, after two years of pandemic operation mode, the AStA is planning various events for the coming semester to exchange ideas with each other – amongst others, a fare for student initiatives in cooperation with the city.

Soprano Leonore von Falkenhausen with Eckhard Wiemann at the piano – artistic collaborators at the university – took the audience on a musical journey through time from the 18th to the 20th century with pieces by Georg Friedrich Handel, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein. The university orchestra conveyed its tuneful congratulations via video message.

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