History of the WWU

History of the Westphalian Wilhelms-University Münster

Founded in 1588 as the Jesuiten-Kolleg Münster, the university has its roots in the beginning of the 17th century, when the first philosophical and theological lectures were held.

In 1780, with ambitions of Franz Freiherr von Fürstenberg, the University of Münster was officially established. Although, it was integrated in the University in Bonn and transformed into a “Höhere Lehranstalt” (establishment of higher education) in 1818.

Not till Emperor Wilhelm II. ennobled it back into the status of an university on July the 1st 1902. In 1907 the university got its current name “Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität”. The following years studies were as well made accessible to women. The university extended their range of faculties in 1914 and 1925, with the faculties of Protestant Theology and Medicine respectively.

With the coming into power of the national socialists the academic autonomy is more and more restricted. The permission of the students is limited and the senate is disempowered. Jewish and political unpopular students and teachers are urged out of the university and persecuted. Some, like the pharmacologist Prof. Dr. Hermann Freund are murdered in concentration camps. As all other German universities the University of Münster is brought into line (“gleichgeschaltet”). At least parts of education and research underlie the NS- ideology or curry favor with it.

Due to the heavy air raids on Münster, numerous university-buildings are destroyed and the University actions are stopped in winter semester 1944/45. On November, 3rd 1945, the University of Münster is re-opened with a formal ceremony in the city hall. In the following months the faculties resume work bit by bit. Both Teachers and applicants for a place at university have to undergo a denazification process. Many students have to provide rebuilding work before they can begin their studies.

In 1954 the recovered City-Palace is opened as the new main building of the university. In the following years a phase of agile building activity starts. From 1956 on the natural scientific center at the “Coesfelder Kreuz”, the lecture hall building at the “Schlossplatz”, the buildings of the economic sciences and the catholic-theological faculty, the refectory and several halls of residence are built.

This is accompanied by a large increase of students. In winter semester 1960/61 the number of students exceeds the 10,000-level for the first time. 10 Years later, there are more than 20,000 students. With that the University of Münster becomes a mass-university. In the middle of the 1960s the building operations are again strengthened with the extension of the medical facility, the natural-scientific center and the new building of the university-library. Diverse supply units are added. Today, with more than 42,000 students, 4,400 scientific assistants and 548 professorships, the University of Münster is one of the largest and most respected universities in Germany. Among other things, in the clusters of excellence in “religion and politics” and “cells in motion” top level research is carried on.

Reference: University of Muenster