A great teaching honour: Karl Peter Grotemeyer prize awarded for first time

In 1996, the Westfälisch-Lippische Universitätsgesellschaft [University Society] – (today: University Society Bielefeld) endowed the “Karl Peter Grotemeyer Prize for outstanding achievements and personal commitment in teaching”, with 5,000 DM (today: 3,000 Euro). On April 25, 1997, the economist Dr. Matthias Raith was awarded the first ever “Karl Peter Grotemeyer Prize”.  

Prof. Dr. Karl Peter Grotemeyer (1927-2007), Rektor of Bielefeld University from 1970 to 1992.

Photo: Manfred Kettner
Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00591

The eponym

Professor Karl Peter Grotemeyer (1927-2007) was Rektor of Bielefeld University from 5 March 1970 to 30 September 1992, making him the longest-serving rector of the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition to fulfilling the many responsibilities at the helm of the University, Grotemeyer was an enthusiastic and inspiring university lecturer. Even during his term as Rektor, he didn’t miss the opportunity to give lectures and to examine generations of students’ work himself. This prompted the University Society to name the prize after this extremely popular rector and university lecturer. Since the early 1980s, the Society has supported the research achievements of young researchers by awarding dissertation and habilitation prizes, and since 1997, it has awarded the teaching prize.

The first winner of the Grotemeyer Prize 1997: Dr. Matthias Raith, Faculty of Economics.

Photo: Normal Langohr
Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 01330

The procedure

The prize is awarded to postdoctoral teachers of Bielefeld University who are under the age of 45 years. All students of Bielefeld University can nominate a candidate. The jury is made up of five students, three members of the teaching staff, one member of the University Society and the Vice-rector for Studies and Teaching. Teachers should be put forward, who are particularly successful in motivating, supervising and supporting their students.

Professor Dr. Miriam Lüken, Faculty of Mathematics, on being awarded the Karl Peter Grotemeyer Prize 2017

Source: Universität Bielefeld
The prize winners

So far, the members of the teaching staff of the Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies have been the most frequent recipients of the Grotemeyer Prize, with the remaining prize-winners distributed almost evenly among the other faculties. The majority of Grotemeyer prize-winners – 12 women and 11 men to date – also enjoy successful academic careers, proof that “quality of teaching” is now also a contributing factor to academic reputation. Either the award itself, in this case, is a factor in advancing an academic career, or else quality has already prevailed at the award ceremony.

All good things come in threes: the recipients of Karl Peter Grotemeyer Prize in the anniversary year 2009 (from left to right): Dr. Matthias Lorenz (Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies), Junior Professor Dr. Christiane Werner Pinto (Faculty of Biology) and Dr. Björn Rüdiger (Faculty of Law), behind them (from left to right): Ortwin Goldbeck (Chairman of the University Society), honorary professor Dr. h.c. Helmut Steiner (Managing Director of the University Society), Bernd-Christian Balz (Deutsche Bank) and Rektor Professor Dr. Dieter Timmermann.

Photo: Norma Langohr
Source: Universität Bielefeld

The 40th anniversary of the University was marked by a special gesture. The Rektorat decided to award one prize for each of the study areas of the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences in order to highlight the Grotemeyer Prize in the anniversary year.