Photo: Günter Rudolf
Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, NEG R 1_5_5_3
On the afternoon of the 5 September 1969, 14 representatives from the teaching body, seven research associates – among them Dr. Dorothea Böhmer, ZiF assistant and the only woman – and several non-voting representatives of the founding committee and the scientific advisory council met in the large meeting room of Bielefeld Town Hall.
The only items on the agenda were the formation of the Senate and the election of a Rektor. However, it had already been agreed in advance that both matters needed to be reviewed again shortly, as the statutes foresaw the participation of all faculties and the student body in such decisions. At that point in time, neither the faculties of Law and of Mathematics nor the student body had constituted themselves.
Photo: Günter Rudolf
Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, NEG R 1_5_4_3
Law professor Ernst-Joachim Mestmäcker, the chairperson of the founding committee, was elected Rektor by a large majority. In February 1969, he was appointed by the Minister of Education to oversee the Rektorat. Karl-Peter Grotemeyer, who had just accepted a position at the University as Professor of Mathematics, was also elected by a large majority, and became Mestmäcker’s only vice-rector.
Fotograf: Günter Rudolf
Quelle: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, NEG R 1_5_3_2
But just a few hours later a dark shadow fell over the successful election. Ernst-Joachim Mestmäcker, who had answered questions from the press and radio after the Senate meeting, suffered a heart attack a few hours later and had to be taken by his driver to a Bielefeld hospital.
Contemporary witnesses to the dramatic events on the day of the Senate’s founding. Excerpt from the film “Rector for Life” in honour of Karl Peter Grotemeyer, 2009.
Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FS 47
Although the worst fears of those involved in the founding process did not materialise, Mestmäcker’s continuing health problems led to the election of vice-rector Grotemeyer, and not Mestmäcker, to Rektor in March 1970. Grotemeyer had provisionally taken over the duties of overseeing the Rektorat from 5 September 1969. He remained Rektor until 1992, and is probably the university Rektor with the longest term of office in Germany to this day.