The third in the group: foundation of the Faculty of Mathematics

On 24 October 1969, the Faculty of Mathematics completes the trio of Bielefeld’s founding faculties, albeit with little response from the media. Professor Dr. Jens Mennicke is elected dean. Apart from Mennicke, the Faculty also includes Professors Dr. Andreas Dress, Dr. Karl Peter Grotemeyer (at this time vice-rector and later Rektor of the University for many years), Dr. Bernd Fischer and Dr. Gerhard Schiffels. A large number of the professors and academic staff of the Faculty have come to Bielefeld with Grotemeyer directly from the FU Berlin.

Professor Dr. Karl Peter Grotemeyer and Professor Dr. Andreas Dress on the concept of the Faculty of Mathematics. Excerpt from the documentary Das Hochschulporträt Bielefeld (Portrait of Bielefeld University) by the public broadcasting company WDR (1969).

Source: WDR and cinetv (Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FS 31)

In the founding bodies of the university, which were constituted in November 1965, Professor Dr. Friedrich Hirzebruch (Bonn) represented mathematics on the founding committee, while Professor Dr. Karl Peter Grotemeyer (Berlin) represented the discipline on the scientific advisory board. Hirzebruch was also head of the Faculty commission for mathematics, which planned the Faculty’s structure and laid down its course programme and personnel profile up until the founding of the University.

The University’s founding concept also included the Center for Mathematical Economics (IMW), the Institute for Didactics of Mathematics (IDM) and the Research Centre for Mathematical Modelling (FSPM). These bodies were established during the University’s foundation as central scientific institutions, i.e. an institution controlled by the Academic Senate and independent of the departments. Yet all three institutes remain closely linked to the Faculty. From the time of its foundation, the Faculty laid down the basic structure that still largely applies today, the division of mathematics into three areas of algebra, analysis and applied mathematics, thus establishing effective interdisciplinary cooperation.

Professor Dr. Andreas Dress on the interdisciplinarity of the Faculty of Mathematics. Interview dated 7 February 2018.

Quelle: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FS 226

Bielefeld’s mathematics is top-class

In the years following its foundation, Bielefeld’s Faculty of Mathematics has gained an excellent reputation both nationally and internationally. It boasts several Collaborative Research Centres, research groups and Research Training Groups and consistently tops university ranking tables in both research and teaching. It has a high number of German and international scholars who, for example, use their research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation or funds from the German Research Foundation (DFG) or European Union funding programmes to conduct research in Bielefeld. The higher than average rate of citations also proves the standing of mathematics at Bielefeld.

  • The matriculation of the first student of the University, mathematics student Günther Quandt, on 23 October 1969 by Chief Government Inspector Richard Hunold (seated). Looking on: Rektor and Professor of Mathematics Karl Peter Grotemeyer and University Chancellor Eberhard Firnhaber.

    Photo: Günter Rudolf
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, NEG R 1.33_2_4
  • Election of the student representatives for the Faculty bodies on the opening day of teaching on 17 November 1969.

    Photo: Bernhard Preker
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, NEG P 1.4_2_6
  • Students at the election of the student representatives for the Faculty bodies on the opening day of teaching on 17 November 1969.

    Photo: Bernhard Preker
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, NEG P 1.4_3_3

Interesting side note: Even though mathematics was only the third faculty of the new university to be founded, it could claim to have the first student of the University in its ranks. On 23 October 1969, one day before the Faculty was established, the mathematics student Günther Quandt, the first ever student at Bielefeld University, was enrolled.