"Together in freedom": KU celebrates Dies Academicus

The Dies Academicus of the KU was not only characterized by the community spirit of the University family, its friends, sponsors and guests of honor, but also had a thematic focus on cohesion: Keynote speaker Dr. Charlotte Knobloch, President of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, emphasized the value of living together in freedom to a packed Aula on the occasion of the academic festive ceremony.

For many years, it was not a matter of course for a Catholic university to invite a Jewish woman to give the Dies Academicus speech, Knobloch noted. She said she was all the more pleased to be able to address the festive congregation on the occasion. She pointed out that she had a personal connection to the Eichstätt region: In Arberg, almost 60 kilometers away, her uncle's former employee hid her and passed her off as her illegitimate child to protect her from deportation to a concentration camp. "But I only know the area by word of mouth, people didn't dare to go to Eichstätt to see it back then."

Knobloch called on the audience in the packed Aula to aim for more than a "cold social peace" in the face of 75 years of the Basic Law and in view of current developments. Living together in freedom requires security: "security internally and externally", as well as a respectful exchange. "Our society must not be like a block of flats where the parties avoid each other." It must not become authoritarian, as extremist movements of all stripes would have it. According to her, citizens of a democracy therefore bear "responsibility for more than themselves". Namely, to help shape "a proven and lasting peace" and to be "aware of history and open to the future".

Vice President Prof. Dr. Klaus Stüwe thanks the keynote speaker

"I'm not saying all this to paint a black picture", Knobloch was keen to emphasize. Instead, she addresses the public "in the happy awareness" that society has all the important decisions in its own hands: The Jewish belief in creation assumes that the world was not finally created. Instead, it could be further developed and improved. Everyone can contribute to this: "Better in small steps than not at all.”  (You can find the full speech as a video recording in German below this article)

To hear Knobloch's speech, more people had registered for the Dies Academicus than there were places available, said Prof. Dr. Klaus Stüwe, Vice President for International Affairs and Profile Development at the KU. He was delighted that so many guests wanted to celebrate the University as "a space of freedom; the freedom to research, teach and engage in discourse" together. Especially in times when it is to be feared "that values such as tolerance have been lost in certain circles". He made it all the clearer: "We are committed to precisely this freedom." That is why it is also an integral part of the KU's Mission Statement.      

KU President Gabriele Gien

However, the KU's Development Plan, which was presented last academic year, also provides information about the KU's self-image as a committed University at all levels, added President Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gien: "The aim was and is to coherently network the areas of research, teaching and knowledge transfer, governance and infrastructure as well as the cross-cutting topics of internationalization, sustainability, equality and diversity, family friendliness and inclusion and to meet the demands of innovation, agility and excellence." The KU is concerned with shaping and living a science "that actively participates in current developments, recognizes opportunities and risks, introduces ethical guidelines for desirable futures and opens up new potential for social scope for action".


Robin May
Robin May, chairperson of the Student Representative Council

The speech by Robin May, chairperson of the Student Representative Council, also clearly expressed the desire to continue to help develop the University so that future students also have an enriching time there. He cited as examples the efforts to maintain the student bar “Theke”, the student meeting place, and the Restart Festival, an event for new and more experienced students to get to know each other. "We want to make an effort to ensure that Eichstätt continues to be the beautiful place that we make it."


Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke

The efforts to preserve the KU in its unique form were also addressed by Markus Blume, Bavarian State Minister for Science and the Arts, in his video message – he was unable to attend the ceremony in person due to the final budget debate: However, he is committed to ensuring that this budget includes 5.5 million euros in support for the KU, "a pearl of the university landscape", as he once again emphasized. "The Free State is firmly on the side of the KU", he emphasized.

As part of the Dies Academicus, outstanding achievements in research and transfer, studying and teaching were once again honored with University prizes. The ceremony was preceded by a vespers church service in the Eichstätt Schutzengelkirche, which was celebrated by Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke of Eichstätt. In his sermon, Hanke recalled the missionary and church reformer Boniface, the anniversary of whose death coincided with the Dies Academicus. The solemn worship was performed by a choir and instrumentalists consisting of students and employees of the KU under the direction of Prof. Dr. Markus Eham.

Vorschau Video

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