Having obtained a Papal brief from Pius II, Duke Ludwig IX (the Wealthy) of Bavaria-Landshut founds the first university in the Bavarian heartlands (Altbayern) in Ingolstadt. The official inauguration took place on 26 June 1472, but the institution (die Hohe Schule zu Ingolstadt) had received its first students in March of that year. As well as the Duke himself, many eminent guests attended the opening ceremony, including the learned counsellor Dr. Martin Mair, who was the principal speaker.
Konrad Celtis (1459–1508) was one of the first and most prominent representatives of Renaissance humanism on the faculty, although taught in Ingolstadt only from 1492 until 1497. Celtis, whose family name was Bickel or Pickel, was a much-travelled scholar, and had moved from Prague to Ingolstadt, where he initially served as a lecturer in Rhetoric and Poetics. He is especially remembered for his widely influential oration on German Humanism, delivered before the Faculty of Law. However, Celtis was often absent from his post in Ingolstadt, and on the invitation of Emperor Maximilian, he left to take up a position at Vienna University in March 1497.
On 15 December 1494, Ludwig IX’s son and successor, Duke Georg the Wealthy of Bavaria-Landshut, set up an endowment to finance the establishment of the Georgianum, a foundation for impoverished theology students at the University, which initially provided fellowships for 11 scholars. The Georgianum was only the second Catholic seminary to be set up in Bavaria. As part of Ingolstadt University, it was later relocated to Landshut, and then moved to Munich in 1826. In November 1841 the College took up residence in a new building designed and built by Friedrich von Gärtner on what is now Professor-Huber-Platz. Over 500 years after its foundation, the Georgianum remains an integral part of the University. Joseph Ratzinger – the later Pope Benedict XVI – and Father Sebastian Kneipp are among its best known alumni.
In 1507 Johannes Aventinus (1477-1534), whose surname was Turmair, began to give private lectures on Mathematics, Astronomy and the works of Cicero at Ingolstadt University. Twelve years earlier, he had been a student there, but now he was hoping to be offered a professorship. Seeing his hopes dashed, he became tutor to the Duke’s sons, and served on the Commission set up by the Duke arbitrate on disputes within the University. In 1517 Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria named Aventinus as official historiographer of the Duchy. In this capacity, Aventinus would earn lasting fame as a historian.
In 1510, the year in which he received his doctorate in Theology, Johannes Eck – surname Maier – (1486–1543) obtained a professorship at the up-and-coming University in Ingolstadt. He was regarded as a conciliatory figure who could mediate between adherents of the major philosophical traditions of his day, Nominalism (via moderna) and Realism (via antiqua). In 1511 Eck became Dean of the Faculty of Theology. A year later he was named Vice-Chancellor of the University, an office he held for the next 30 years.
As Vice-Chancellor, Eck supported a university reform that strove to bring the curriculum into line with the humanist ideal of education. But he is best known as Martin Luther’s chief theological adversary, a role which strengthened the reputation of Ingolstadt University as a stronghold of the Counter-Reformation.
In November 1549 the first three members of the Society of Jesus arrived to take up posts at Ingolstadt University, among them Petrus Canisius (1521-1597). The reigning Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm IV, had approached the Jesuit Order because he was confident that they would support efforts to reform the University and, in particular, the study of theology there.
Born in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, Canisius was the leading representative of the Jesuit Order in Ingolstadt from November 1549 until February 1552, serving as Professor, Rector, Vice-Chancellor and spiritual guide. He was the first Jesuit to hold a professorship at a German university.
In 1580 Jakob Gretser (1562-1625) began his teaching career at the Jesuit College in Munich. Six years later, his superiors sent him to Ingolstadt. When the Faculty of Philosophy was assigned exclusively to the Jesuits, Gretser became a professor, although he was ordained to the priesthood and received his doctoral degree only a year later. In 1592, Gretser, as an exponent of Scholastic Theology, was transferred to the Faculty of Theology. He produced a large number of theological works, most of them directed against Reformation theology, but was also well versed in Historiography, Philosophy and Literature.
The Jesuit Christoph Scheiner (1575-1650) held a teaching appointment in Mathematics and Hebrew at Ingolstadt University from 1610 until 1616, having studied Philosophy and Theology there from 1597 to 1600 and again from 1605 to 1609. In 1611, using the newly invented telescope, Scheiner and his student Johann Baptist Cysat observed dark blotches on the surface of the Sun, and were thus among the first to detect sunspots. Above all, Scheiner’s precise description and interpretation of his observations, as well as his contributions to optics, established his scientific fame. No other natural philosopher who worked at Ingolstadt University made such a significant contribution to the development of science in Europe
In June 1746 Johann Adam Freiherr von Ickstatt (1702–1776) was named Director of the University in Ingolstadt by the Elector Max III. Joseph. Ickstatt had already distinguished himself as an expert in Public Law (Jus publicum), having published notable work on the subject during his time in Würzburg. As University Director in Ingolstadt, he reformed the institution in accordance with Enlightenment principles, and reorganized the Faculty of Law. Ickstatt’s reforming zeal, which he retained to the end of his life, made him one of the most important figures in the history of education in Bavaria.
In 1776, together with a number of senior students in Ingolstadt, Adam Weishaupt (1748–1830), godson of Johann Adam von Ickstatt and Professor of Canon Law, founded a secret society whose members referred to themselves as “Perfectibilists” and subsequently “Illuminati”. The society was dedicated to the ideals of the radical wing of the Enlightenment. Its ultimate goal was to foster, by means of a program of education and surveillance, the development of an elite body of men that would eventually take over all key positions in the State. In this way, the group hoped to subvert the hegemony of the territorial princes.
In its early years, the society grew rapidly, but by the middle of the 1780s its popularity was in decline, and in 1785 Weishaupt lost his professorship in Ingolstadt as a result of the disclosure of the society’s existence. Shortly afterwards, the Elector Karl Theodor proscribed the Illuminati and the Freemasons. In 1799 Karl Theodor’s successor, Max IV Joseph, chose Maximilian von Montgelas, a former adherent of the Illuminati, as his chief minister. This led to the rehabilitation of many ex-Illuminati, and some later became professors at Ingolstadt University, which was moved to Landshut in the year following Montgelas’ appointment.
During the 18th century, the possibility of transferring the University elsewhere had been repeatedly discussed, and on 17 May 1800, the Elector formally decreed its relocation to Landshut. The official reason given for the decision was the threat presented by the military situation at this point in the Napoleonic Wars. As well as having a university, Ingolstadt was a garrison town, and was now in danger of occupation by French troops. However, the reformers in the administration in Munich were also intent on enhancing the reputation of the University, which was now regarded as conservative, old-fashioned and allegedly still dominated by the Jesuit ethos.
The relocation to Landshut took nearly four years, and the University celebrated its official installation in its new home in 1802. On that occasion, the leadership of the University formally thanked Maximilian IV Joseph for ordering the move, and the institution was renamed Universitas Ludovico-Maximilianea in his honor and in memory of its founder Duke Ludwig IX. Lectures resumed in May 1800. The now LMU was initially domiciled in the Dominican Monastery in Landshut. After the secularization of ecclesiastical property in 1803, other buildings that had belonged to religious orders were also made available to the University, among them the Aula of the former Jesuit College.
At the turn of 1825/26, shortly before the University moved to Munich, now the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria, approximately 1,000 students were on the rolls, making LMU the fifth largest university in Germany – behind Leipzig, Göttingen, Halle and Berlin. During the quarter-century in which LMU was resident in Landshut some 5,700 studied there. Of these, 20% chose to study Philosophy, 25% Theology and 35% Law; the remaining 10% were medical students.
During the reign of King Ludwig I all the important cultural institutions in the country were concentrated in its capital city – Munich – and the entire educational system was reorganized. As part of this policy, and in response to a perceived decline in the prestige of the University in Landshut, Ludwig I ordered in October 1825, soon after his accession to the throne, that preparations be made for the transfer of the University to the capital. In November 1826, LMU formally took up residence in the Jesuit College in Munich, on what is now Neuhauserstrasse. St. Michael’s served as the University Church, while the Carmelite Church on Promenadenplatz became the Great Aula.
Very soon after the move to Munich, in the year 1827, LMU succeeded in gaining the services of the Catholic author and historian Joseph Görres (1776–1848) and the Protestant philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775–1854), two of the most outstanding intellectuals of their time. Görres had edited the journal Rheinische Merkur between 1814 and 1816, and was a nationally known figure. He held the post of Professor of General and Literary History at LMU until 1848. Schelling was widely viewed as one of the leading protagonists of Idealism in Germany, together with Hegel. In addition to his professorship at LMU, he became President of the Academy of Sciences. He contributed to the development of the new school curriculum in Bavaria and reformed the Regulations for Students of Philosophy at LMU. In 1841 he moved to Berlin.
In 1830 a royal decree directed that an annual celebration be instituted to commemorate the foundation of the University. Founder’s Day is generally celebrated on 26 June, the day on which the University was formally reopened in Munich following its removal from Landshut. In addition to the official festivities, the occasion was marked by the presentation of prizes for essays on topics assigned by the different faculties and the subjects for the following year’s competition were announced.
Founder’s Day remains an occasion for reflection on the University’s history and an opportunity to highlight the quality of research at LMU, in particular the work of junior academics. Nowadays the program begins with an address given by the President of the University, which is followed by an invited lecture. Then prizes for the best doctoral and Habilitation theses (sponsored by the Munich University Association), and the Georg Heberer Award for Medical Research (sponsored by the Chiles Foundation, Portland, Oregon, USA), are presented to the winning authors.
In July 1830, Paris was once again in the throes of a revolution, which also ignited unrest in other European cities. In Munich the situation remained largely calm. Even the King’s official visit to the city‘s Oktoberfest went off without a hitch, to the surprise of many. The first disturbances broke out in December, and were comparatively harmless: Students who had purchased musical instruments at the Christkindl Fair staged a noisy march as far as the Karlstor, where a detachment of soldiers stepped in and arrested them. This action provoked riots that went on for several days. Ludwig I clamped down on the protests, dissolved the student corporation that had played the leading role on 28 December, closed the University on the following day and banned all non-resident students from entering the city. However, at the request of the municipal authorities, who promised to ensure that no further uproar ensued, the University was allowed to open again on 30 December.
The foundation stones for the new Main Building (designed by Friedrich von Gärtner) and the new Georgianum were laid on a day marked by torrential rains in 1835. The University moved into its new quarters five years later, on 25 August, King Ludwig I’s name-day and birthday. In addition to the University and the Georgianum, the University (and parish) Church of St. Ludwig, the Court and State Library, the School for the Blind and the Institute of Education for Young Ladies (Erziehungsinstitut für Höhere Töchter) found their homes on Ludwigstrasse (named in the King’s honor).
Max von Pettenkofer (1818–1901) had worked in Justus von Liebig’s Chemistry Laboratory and elsewhere before assuming the newly created Chair of Medicinal Chemistry at LMU in 1847. During his term of office as Rector of the University (1864/65), he persuaded King Ludwig II to set up Chairs in Hygiene at all three Bavarian universities – in Munich, Würzburg and Erlangen. The first of these Institutes, the predecessor of today’s Max von Pettenkofer Institute, was built in the years 1876-1879 at LMU, and contributed significantly to the consolidation of the subject at university level. The city itself benefited directly, as it owes the provision of an urban sewerage system and water supply to Pettenkofer’s expertise. He finally agreed to retire in 1894, at the age of 76.
The background to the closure of the University on 9 February 1848, on the orders of King Ludwig I, must be unique in the annals of higher education. The dancer Lola Montez had been installed as the King‘s mistress since 1846, and exerted a growing influence on government policy. The conflicts between her supporters and opponents in the administration had resulted in ministerial reshuffles and dismissals of LMU professors.
In February, disputes broke out at the University between pro-Montez partisans belonging to the student corporation Alemannia (popularly referred to as the Lolamannen because it had assumed the role of Montez’ personal guard) and anti-Montez factions. Ludwig I reacted by first issuing a warning to the University authorities, and then ordering the closure of LMU until the beginning of the Winter Term 1848/49 and the expulsion of all non-resident students from the city for the same period. These measures only exacerbated the protests and incited further unrest. The point at issue now was not just the reopening of the University, but the removal of Lola Montez.
On 11 February, the king capitulated, and allowed LMU to open again. But the atmosphere remained tense, and news of the latest revolution in France added a further threatening note. Finally, on 19 March 1848, Ludwig I admitted defeat, and abdicated in favor of his son, Max II.
The appointment of the internationally renowned chemist Justus von Liebig (1803–1873) to a Chair at LMU in 1852 was in no small measure due to Max von Pettenkofer. Prior to this, Liebig had long held a professorship in Giessen. In Munich the focus of his work shifted from basic to applied research. His lectures, given in the laboratory that had been built for him beside his private residence, were extremely popular, and were even attended by members of the royal family, which turned them into highlights of the social calendar.
In 1852 King Maximilian II founded the Royal Athenaeum, which was renamed Royal Maximilianeum five years later. Its aim was to enable the most gifted high-school graduates in the kingdom – irrespective of their social origins – to study at LMU. The Fellows were given free board and lodging (but no spending money) and were groomed for high-ranking posts in the civil service. For over 20 years the Maximilianeum had to make do with temporary quarters. Work on a suitably imposing building on the east bank of the Isar only began in 1857. The monumental structure was completed in 1874. When the Bavarian monarchy was abolished in 1918, the epithet Royal was dropped from its name, and responsibility for the running of the Maximilianeum passed to the Rector of LMU.
In 1900, women were officially permitted, for the first time, to take normal doctoral courses. Maria Ogilvie-Gordon from Scotland and the Australian Agnes Kelly, both of whom had previously studied in England, successfully passed the final exam in the Faculty of Philosophy. Three years earlier, Princess Therese of Bavaria had become the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from LMU. But only in September 1903 did Luitpold, the Prince Regent, direct that women be accorded full immatriculation rights to attend lectures at all universities in Bavaria, including LMU. In 1918 Adele Hartmann, the first woman in Germany to complete the Habilitation, did so at LMU.
LMU chemist Adolf von Baeyer (1835–1917) won the 1905 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his groundbreaking research on the synthesis of indigo and other pigments of the triphenylmethane family. He thus became the second Nobel Laureate at LMU, following the award of the first Nobel in Physics to Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1901. Baeyer had succeeded Justus von Liebig as Professor of Chemistry in 1873, and went on to set up state-of-the-art laboratories for research and teaching purposes, where he worked until his retirement in 1914. In 1910 the German Chemistry Society named its highest award for research, now known as the Adolf-von-Baeyer Memorial Medal, in his honor.
The idea of forming organizations to represent the interests of university students first emerged in Germany in the early 1800s, and was revived at various points throughout the 19th century. However, all early attempts to put the idea into practice failed, often due to conflicts within the student body itself. With the end of the First World War and the revolution of November 1918, student unions were established in many university cities, including Munich. On 11 November 1918 the University Senate passed a provisional draft statute for such an association, and the Steering Committee of the first Munich Students’ Union (Allgemeine Studentenausschuss, AStA) was elected in the Great Aula at LMU in the following month. The 30-member body then nominated a five-man Executive Board. Compulsory dues levied on all students were used to finance its work. In January 1922, the Students’ Unions instituted at all universities in Bavaria received legal recognition from the new Free State.
Max Weber (1864–1920), one of the founders of modern social science, had held teaching positions in Berlin, Freiburg, Heidelberg and Vienna, before accepting the offer of a Chair in Economics at LMU in 1919. It was a period of great political turbulence, and Weber‘s lectures were repeatedly disrupted. Indeed, numbered tickets sometimes had to be issued to students wishing to attend his lectures. Among other things, Weber had criticized the leniency shown to the murderers of the Bavarian Prime Minister Kurt Eisner, a view with which many students violently disagreed. At all events, Weber’s tenure at LMU came to a premature end: He died of pneumonia on 14 June 1920.
The distinguished Jewish chemist Richard Willstätter (1872–1942) had joined the LMU faculty in 1915, and soon afterwards he won the Nobel Prize for his work on plant pigments, in particular on the structure of chlorophyll. Ten years later he retired from his post as Professor of Chemistry as a protest against the growth of anti-Semitic sentiment at LMU. He criticized not only the obsessive anti-Semitism of the students, but more particularly the fact that candidates’ racial origins had come to play a decisive role in the selection of new faculty. Thanks to the support of private individuals, Willstätter continued to carry out chemical research in Munich until 1939, when the increasing persecution of Jews in Germany forced him to emigrate to Switzerland.
With the opening of the Summer Term 1933, the university law passed by the National Socialists following Hitler’s accession to power came into effect. The new law subjected university governance to the dictatorial Führerprinzip, and compulsory duties of various sorts were imposed on students. The new law was officially welcomed at a ceremony in the Atrium of the Main Building on 10 May, which was followed by a student march – in which no official representatives of the University took part – to Königsplatz. Once there, Munich students, as their fellows were doing in other German university cities, burned books by authors deemed to be “un-German.”
On 27 June 1942, in the third year of the war, members of the White Rose group disseminated the first of their leaflets calling for passive resistance against the Nazi regime. Five further appeals followed, the last calling for the overthrow of Hitler’s dictatorship. The LMU students Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, Alexander Schmorell, Sophie Scholl and Hans Scholl, together with LMU Professor Kurt Huber, formed the core of the group, which maintained informal links with other individuals and groups opposed to the Nazi regime.
On 18 February 1943, Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested by the Gestapo, after they had scattered copies of their latest leaflet around the Main Building. Further arrests were made in the days following and, in several separate trials, the leading members of the White Rose were convicted and sentenced to death. In all cases, the sentences were carried out without delay in the prison in Munich-Stadelheim.
Munich was attacked from the air in 1940, but the city first became the target of intensive aerial bombardment in 1942. The worst raids came in July 1944. On 13 July, LMU’s Main Building was destroyed. Teaching activities came to a near standstill – with the few remaining classes being held in ruined premises or in professors’ homes. The situation continued to deteriorate, and the planned Summer Semester 1945 was cancelled.
On 30 April 1945 Munich capitulated to the advancing US troops. The American Military Government ordered LMU to cease operating on 14 May 1945. On the following day, a meeting attended by 15 professors elected the Classical scholar Albert Rehm as Acting Rector of LMU. He was the only former Rector available who had held the post before the Nazis came to power. LMU remained closed for almost a year. In the meantime, individual professors organized private courses to prepare students for the resumption of normal university life.
The delay in reopening LMU was largely due to differences between Acting Rector Rehm and the American Military Administration. He resigned in January 1946 and was succeeded by Karl Vossler, a Professor of Romance Languages. Only then did it prove possible to obtain permission from the American authorities to open the University again. The first regular post-war term began on 1 April 1946. LMU was formally reopened on 23 July, as the last in the American Zone to resume its activities, and Georg Hohmann, the first properly elected post-war Rector, assumed his new office.
As a result of organic growth and the integration of other educational establishments, including that of the Teacher Training College in 1972, LMU was the largest university in the Federal Republic in 1973. In that year, prior to the passage of a new Higher Education Act by the Bavarian parliament, some 28,500 students were on the rolls, attending courses given by 15 Faculties. Staff numbers had reached 9,255, making LMU the sixth largest employer in Munich. Indeed, its very size led some critics to call for it to be split into several different schools.
In November 1973 the Bavarian State Parliament passed a new Higher Education Act, which brought far-reaching changes to LMU’s organization when it came into force in the following year. The Faculties were restructured into 21 so-called Subject Areas (Fachbereiche), led by faculty councils. Shortly afterwards, their numbers were reduced and the term ‘Faculty’ was reinstated.
In addition, an important step was taken toward the creation of a so-called group-university system of governance. The Faculty Councils, the Senate and the University Assembly now included representatives of the faculty, the academic staff and students. Representatives of other groups of employees on the university’s staff were later admitted to these bodies.
The Act also abolished the existing Students’ Unions (AStA), which were replaced by faculty-specific councils with more limited powers. The students’ representatives elected in each Faculty and those elected to the University Senate together make up the Student Convention, which elects a Board of Speakers that replaces the old AStA and speaks for the entire student body.
On 5 April 1995 the so-called Landshuter Freundeskreis was established as part of the Munich University Association. The “Circle of Friends” is an informal group within the Association and has no separate legal existence. Its name invokes the close historical links between LMU and the city of Landshut, which was the University’s home for a quarter of a century, and its goal is to recruit new sponsors and supporters of LMU. The group has already convened meetings to this end in the context of the LMU Summer Academies held regularly in Landshut.
The Munich University Association itself is 73 years older than its junior subsection. It was founded as the Association of Friends and Sponsors of Munich University in 1922, at a time when the precarious economic situation made it almost impossible for the Weimar Republic to provide sufficient resources for the support of universities and students. Its founding members, including Thomas Mann and Ricarda Huch, wished to uphold the quality of teaching and research at LMU.
The Association now has over 2,800 members but its objective has remained essentially the same. It provides grants for research projects and supports the work of junior academics, funds Visiting Professorships, lecture programs and conferences, and promotes collaboration with other universities at home and abroad.
Theodor W. Hänsch, born in 1941, has received the Nobel Prize in Physics in December 2005. Before moving to LMU in 1986, Hänsch had held a Chair at Stanford University, and in 1989 he became the second LMU professor to win the Leibniz Prize. He shared the Nobel Prize with the American researchers John L. Hall and Roy J. Glauber. Hänsch and Hall were explicitly cited for the development of laser-based, high-precision spectroscopy, which enables the frequency of light waves emitted by atoms and molecules to be determined with unprecedented accuracy.
As a consequence of the 2006 Bavarian Higher Education Act, a presidential system of governance was reintroduced at LMU, and the role of the University Council was strengthened. Professor Bernd Huber, who had been elected Rector in 2002, became the new President. The President is elected by the University Council, and has wider responsibilities and greater influence than were accorded to the Rector. Responsibility for the so-called Basic Stature, which defines the administrative procedures to be followed at LMU, was also invested in the University Council. Half of the Council’s 16 members are co-opted from the Senate. The others are recruited from outside the University and comprise personalities with broad experience in the fields of science, business and the professions. The Senate’s role in the appointment of new faculty was also restricted.
In October 2006 the German Research Society (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and the Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat) announced the results of the nationwide Excellence Initiative. LMU was notably successful in all three funding lines: 180 million euros were made available for the foundation of a Graduate School (Graduate Center for Systemic Neurosciences (GSN)) and three Clusters of Excellence (the Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CiPSM), the Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM) and the Munich-Centre for Advanced Photonics (MAP) and implementation of the institutional strategy LMUexcellent.
In addition, LMU partners the Technical University Munich in a fourth Cluster of Excellence devoted to the study of the links between quantum physics and cosmology (Origin and Structure of the Universe).
The results of the second phase of the Excellence Initiative were revealed in June 2012. LMU emerged as the most successful of the participating universities. All of its proposals – for four Graduate Schools, four Clusters of Excellence and LMUs institutional strategy LMUexcellent – were accepted. The decision not only ensured that funding for the existing Graduate School and three Clusters of Excellence will continue until 2017, it provided for three further Graduate Schools in Systems Biology (Graduate School of Quantitative Biosciences Munich (QBM)), Ancient Societies (Distant Worlds: Munich Graduate School for Ancient Studies) and – in cooperation with the University of Regensburg – Eastern European Studies (Graduate School for East and South East European Studies) and a new Cluster of Excellence in Systems Neurology (Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy).