The Friends of Mainz University celebrate their 60th anniversary

Sponsorship project of the Friends for the anniversary year: EUR 250,000 for the creation of a School of Vision as a forum of humanistic creativity


For 60 years, their goal has been to promote research and teaching at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), and to maintain and deepen the connections between the University, the City of Mainz and the region as well as between alumni and their university: The Friends of Mainz University have donated approximately EUR 7 million during six decades of active work. On the occasion of their anniversary, the Friends of Mainz University have provided a starting capital of EUR 250,000 as a basis for the creation of a School of Vision on the university campus. "The association of the Friends of Mainz University is 60 years old but still a model for the future," declared Dr. Klaus Adam, Chairman of the Friends, during the celebration. "Citizens have supported the development of their University from the beginning. The goals of the association have remained unchanged over the years, but the specific tasks have obviously changed. Instead of heating cold lecture rooms, as we did in the early 1950s, the Friends now support research and teaching in a more varied and direct way, and maintain the connection between university, city and region. Good examples are the establishment of the Johannes Gutenberg Endowed Professorship in 2000, and the current anniversary present - the School of Vision, a building with symbolic power that expresses the relationship between the citizens and their University in the form of a tangible architectural structure that has a strong and lasting impact."

Minister of Science Doris Ahnen thanked the Friends of Mainz University for their manifold initiatives in support of Johannes Gutenberg University. She emphasized the "Villa Nees" university kindergarten at the University Medical Center, which has been operating under the sponsorship of the Friends of Mainz University since 1994. "It is particularly pleasing that the special birthday of the Friends falls in the year in which the City of Mainz may use the title 'City of Science.' The winning of this title is exemplary for the unequaled dynamic that we see on the Rhineland-Palatinate science and research scene and in particular in Mainz. Initiatives and networks are being created, new institutes are being founded, and there is hardly a week in which there is no foundation stone laid, no topping-out ceremony or opening of new science and research buildings somewhere in the country. Mainz owes its important place on the scientific map of Germany partially to initiatives such as those of the Friends of Mainz University. I hope that their commitment and innovative ideas will continue in the future."

Johannes Gutenberg University restarted its teaching and research operations in 1946 in a city that was 80% destroyed and had a population that lived in great misery. It was not easy to convince the citizens of Mainz of the need to found a university, as this increased the shortage of accommodations and supplies. At this time, the core of the association was formed. The people around the former Mayor of Mainz, Dr. Emil Kraus, had the goal of bringing the inhabitants of the city, the country and the new university together. These citizens, and in particular the professors, were committed to the university from the beginning. At the end of the official foundation year, i.e. 1951, the association already had 57 members. Today, there are almost 1,000. The association of the Friends of Mainz University still invites newcomers and is looking forward to welcoming its 1000th member.

"The anniversary of the Friends of Mainz University takes place in a very special year: in 2011, Mainz is the German 'City of Science' - which highlights the development in the relationship between our city and its university. Never have the city and the university been as close as today," declared Mayor Jens Beutel. "This favorable development is due to many committed people who have built many important and stable bridges between science and the inhabitants of our city." The Mayor thanked the Friends of Mainz University for the exemplary citizens’ commitment as well as for their generous gifts to the Johannes Gutenberg University on the occasion of its anniversary, which will also benefit the university city of Mainz.

60 years and EUR 7 million of sponsorship

After the currency reform, the "starting capital" of the Friends was 9,42 Deutschmark. First of all, the primary goal was to find work for students. There was great misery and the first amounts were used to provide social services to students. In 1952, the association registered 12,663 Deutschmark in membership fees and donations. "It was advantageous that representatives of industry, business, and banks were included in leadership positions of the association from the beginning," said Adam. The continuity of the office of the treasurer is particularly noteworthy. Peter Geipel is only the fourth treasurer and he has been in office for 21 years. The increasing number of members and the donations collected, which fluctuated according to the economic cycle, allowed the board to pay for acquisitions, research projects, the awarding of research prizes, seminars, study trips, and, lastly, composer prizes on the occasion of the dedication of the new Groll organ as well as 25 scholarships for two semesters as part of the newly developed National Scholarship Programs, and numerous other projects of the University and the University Medical Center - which altogether amounted to EUR 7 million of sponsorship.

"The Friends help Mainz University fulfill its tasks in an optimal manner," said Dr. Hans Friderichs, former Federal Minister, Chairman of the University Council of JGU and honorary Chairman of the Friends. "This is now more important than ever, because in our current knowledge society, universities play a key role in stimulating economic growth and social development. Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is one of the 10 largest German universities. It is aware of its responsibilities and fulfills them. Its scientists are represented in the consulting committees of the Federal Government and the Federal President and use their knowledge right here for science-based city development - for the creation of innovative positions such as those in medical technology or in socially integrative education projects. I am therefore happy to work with the Friends and to support the university and our society."

Special sponsorship projects: School of Vision, the Endowed Professorship, and the Villa Nees

In 2011, the Friends of Mainz University celebrate their anniversary by providing EUR 250,000 starting capital for a new School of Vision at Johannes Gutenberg University. The School of Vision - the sponsorship project during the anniversary year - is to be a place of joint learning that conveys historical experience and encourages the critical handling of images: the perception of the visitor is trained on three-dimensional art objects using digital media which turns historico-cultural knowledge into a personal experience. The School of Vision is intended to convey core competences of our strongly visual media world to children, adolescents, and adults. The multifunctional pavilion structure in the Philosophicum area is furthermore intended as an attractive place that supports a network in the humanities and facilitates project work with pupils, readings, theater and music performances, the continuing education of teachers, lectures, and scientific congresses in a high-profile manner.

The Friends of Mainz University established the Johannes Gutenberg Endowed Professorship on the occasion of the 600th birthday of Johannes Gutenberg in 2000. The endowed professorship is intended to give a fresh approach to teaching and research, convey the impression of a living science to the public, and provide a platform for debating current issues. The foundation professorship is reserved for persons who can combine professional perspectives and develop overall insights due to their scientific achievements or their importance in cultural or public life, such as Fritz Stern, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Fritz Melchers, Jan Philipp Reemtsma and Karl Kardinal Lehmann. The foundation finances the endowed professorship by private donations and their proceeds.

The Villa Nees childcare center has been in existence since 1994. It was founded in response to a request by the care workers of the Mainz University Medical Center for better childcare facilities and arranges opening times according to parents' working hours. The Friends have undertaken the sponsorship of the university kindergarten. The facility now has a staff of 11 and looks after 60 children for up to 12 hours per day. The goal: to promote the interests and abilities of the children according to the educational mandate of the state, the requirements and suggestions of the sponsor and the parents.

"Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is privileged to have such a large number of good friends on its side," said University Professor Georg Krausch, President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "They are people who feel close to our University and support us with their experience. People who are prepared to provide time and effort in a charitable manner to support science. People such as those who founded the Friends of Mainz University 60 years ago and those who have supported them with their commitment to this day. We are obliged to our Friends for their generous support in many areas."