Ready for take-off
The new crop of first-year students will soon be here. But a summary of the locations of its facilities may also be of interest to others. The following guide to LMU’s campuses is accompanied by a closer look from an unusual perspective.
Because her biology lecture begins at 8.15 in the morning, Stephanie Küpper has to be up and about by 5.45. She lives in a small township located an hour to the south of Munich. Getting to the Faculty of Biology from there entails a sort of triathlon. She drives to the local station, takes the suburban train to Gräfelfing and cycles the rest of the way to LMU’s High-Tech Campus in Grosshadern/Martinsried, where the majority of the natural science and life science institutes are located. This means that she never has much time to sample campus life in the city center, which is a half-an-hour train ride away. Nevertheless, she enjoys her daily commute. “The cycling stage is the best, because the Biology Campus lies in a lovely setting, surrounded by green fields.” Would she be prepared to use her bike to get to LMU’s Main Building in the city center? “I’m not sure,” she answers with a smile. “I’ve only been in the Main Building once, to complete my registration formalities.” (Stephanie is now in her 5th semester …).
LMU is not one of the classical campus universities. In fact since it was founded in 1472, it has never been a campus university, not even after its arrival in Munich in 1826. In the space of nearly 550 years, the set of subjects covered and the numbers of students it receives have increased in leaps and bounds. Naturally, the sheer size of the University has also grown very significantly, both within and beyond the city limits. Institutes, hospitals and research centers can now be found in the outlying communities as well. “However, as a rule, particular subjects do tend to cluster in certain locations, so that travel times are reasonably short,” as Dr. Matthias Fahrmeir, Head of the Property and Maintenance Division, points out.
The Downtown Campus
LMU’s Main Building forms the heart of the downtown campus. Indeed, for large numbers of students it has become a symbol of their attachment to and identification with the University – as witnessed by the enrollment and graduation photos, which are traditionally set against the backdrop of the fountains on Geschwister-Scholl-Platz. Indeed, the Main Building is iconic, thanks to its links with Sophie and Hans Scholl and the White Rose resistance movement, the story of which is told in the DenkStätte Weiße Rose located in the Atrium. In addition, many locations in and around the Main Building acquire evocative associations for students over the years. These include the Audimax, the Great Aula and the University Library, LMU’s central book repository. The system includes a further 13 specialist libraries, and its current holdings add up to some 4.7 million volumes.
Some 40,000 students, 80% of the total, pursue their studies on the downtown campus in the vicinity of the Main Building in the heart of the Bavarian capital. The Main Building itself is home to the Humanities, Economics and Social Sciences. Several other Faculties, ranging from Languages and Literatures to Physics are based in premises in Schwabing, the Maxvorstadt, and the area between the English Garden and Schellingstrasse. Then there are the hospitals and medical institutes sited in the area to the west of the Sendlinger Tor – and every medical student becomes familiar with the Anatomy Institute there.
The High-Tech Campus
The Faculty of Medicine and the University Medical Center, and the Faculties of Biology and Chemistry/Pharmacy are located on the High-Tech Campus in Grosshadern/Martinsried, together with the Gene Center, the Biomedical Center and the Center for Molecular Biosystems. All of these institutions are within walking distance of each other.
“Between lectures and seminars, students can make use of the lounge and the loggias, and relax or engage in sports in the open spaces with their decorative watercourses,” says Michael Meyer, Dean of Studies for the first phase of the program in Medicine. A direct connection with the subway network has been promised, which he hopes will soon materialize. Lecture theaters in Grosshadern are already linked to those on the Downtown Medical Campus by livestream.
The Oberschleissheim Campus
Several of the institutes and clinical facilities run by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine have now been relocated to Oberschleissheim. “There is simply no room available for modernization and expansion on our present site in the city center,” explains Prof. Thomas Göbel, the Faculty’s Dean of Studies. “The public transport links between the two locations are less than optimal,” he admits, but a bus connection from the suburban railway station in Feldmoching is in prospect. There are also plans to build a residence hall on the Oberschleissheim Campus, which will dispense with the need for students to commute to the site. The present development plan envisages that the site will ultimately host up-to-date clinics, institutes and teaching facilities, together with a cafeteria, dining hall and a specialist library. “When it is finished, the new Veterinary Science Campus will be unique in Europe,” says Göbel.
LMU plans to pursue this policy of consolidating and concentrating its research and teaching facilities during the coming decades. “Many obstacles will have to be overcome in order to bring facilities together which have long been geographically dispersed,” says Matthias Fahrmeir. Here, he cites the integration of the Faculty of Physics on the Campus around the English Garden and the relocation of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, whose various sections are now located far apart. These examples show that the majority of LMU students will not soon find themselves studying ‘out in the country’. As Fahrmeir emphasizes, “LMU is committed to retaining its presence in the city center and intends to expand it further.” So perhaps biology student Stephanie Küppers will have occasion to visit the Main Building again before she completes her program. At all events, it’s a safe bet that she will do so when she graduates – if only for the traditional photo session by the fountain.