The History of International University Bremen: From Idea to Reality, 1997-2001

Author: John B. Boles Nur jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft, zu lebe. (A magic dwells in each beginning,protecting us, telling us how to live.) Hermann Hesse, Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game), 1943  From one perspective, the German city of Bremen and the Texas city of Houston could not be more different. Yet they share a number of characteristics, the most intriguing of which is an academic partnership that developed almost by happenstance in the last years of the twentieth century. How have the lives of these two cities, more than five thousand miles apart, become intertwined? How does the seed of an idea take root, grow, and ultimately bear fruit? I.            Bremen traces its founding back to 787, when Charlemagne established it as a diocese, and it was raised to an Archbishopric in 845. Within two centuries, Bremen had become a leading trading port and ecclesiastical administrative center known as “the Rome of the North”. In the thirteenth century, the city won its independence from the bishops, and in 1358 it joined several other states in forming the Hanse trading league. For three centuries, Bremen prospered greatly from commerce with northern and eastern Europe. This heritage of leadership in the Hanseatic League has perpetuated an internationalist outlook in the city. Over the centuries, the city, connected to the North Sea by the Weser river, continued to find success in trade, becoming at different times a leading import center for products as varied as tobacco, coffee, cotton, and oil as well as the embarkation port for millions of German and other Europeans who emigrated to the New World. Shipbuilding also thrived. Throughout its long history, Bremen has prided itself on its independent, progressive spirit, and the symbol of that love of freedom is the statue of Ronald[1] erected in 1404 in the central plaza in front of the City Hall (Rathaus). Bremen entered the German Confederation as an autonomous republic (Germany’s oldest) in 1815 and only temporarily lost its independence during the rule of the National Socialists. That independence was regained in 1947, when Bremen and the smaller port city of Bremerhaven jointly became an independent state within the Federal Republic of Germany with the formal name of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.             The openness of Bremen to international trade was signified in 1796, when the United States established in the city its first consulate on the European continent. Trade thrived between the U.S. and Bremen, and for decades, Bremen was a leading import center for cotton and oil – products often coming from the port of Houston – and millions of new citizens in the U.S. had left Europe from Bremen. For example, the period between 1844 and 1847, sixty-one ships from Europe brought more than seven thousand immigrants to Texas. Thirty-nine of those sixty-one ships had embarked from Bremen. In 1844, the Senate of Bremen drafted a most-favored-nation trade agreement with Texas, only to have Texas fail to ratify the agreement because the at-the-time independent Republic of Texas sought annexation by the U.S. and feared the trade agreement might complicate the process. But the effort dramatically indicates Bremen’s aggressive stance toward international trade. Today, it is Germany’s twelfth largest city, with a metropolitan population (including Bremerhaven) of approximately 700,000, known to Americans primarily for its production of Mercedes cars, Beck’s Beer, and its leadership in aviation and aerospace – the German Spacelab-Mission D2 was designed, built, and equipped in Bremen.            Houston, by contrast, is a very young city, having been founded in 1836 on the banks of a barely navigable river called Buffalo Bayou. Like Bremen, it is some distance from the open sea; following a dredging of the bayou that transformed it into the Houston Ship Channel, the city became one of the largest international ports in the world, prospering first by exporting cotton, and then, in the twentieth century, petroleum products. Bremen had guaranteed its link to the ocean lanes by developing the port of Bremerhaven in 1827 after silting of the Weser threatened to strangle the city, and Houston had taken action to promote its ocean trade by completing its ship channel in 1914. Both cities defied geography to promote commerce. In 1962, the [Johnson] Manned Space Center was established in Houston, and, as a consequence, the first words spoken on the surface of the moon were: “Houston, the Eagle has landed.” As different as Bremen and Houston are in terms of age and size (the population of metropolitan Houston is approximately 4.5 million), the two cities share import-export products, both are major ports as a result of active human responses to the natural environment, both are major centers of space exploration (The European Space Module for the International Space Station is currently being built in Bremen, and once in orbit, the space station will be directed by the Mission Control Center in Houston), and both have a strong sense of independence and a spirit that says anything can be accomplished if people work hard enough. In that sense, the two cities are natural partners.            Houston has a number of public and private universities and a world-famous medical center, but its first and most distinguished university opened to instruction in 1912 as the Rice Institute (the name was changed to Rice University in 1960). The Board of Trustee of this private, independent, and completely autonomous research university chose as its founding President, in 1907, a mathematician from Princeton University, Edgar Odell Lovett. Lovett had earned a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Virginia and a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Leipzig, where he saw at work the Humboldtian model of the university as a center of research as well as of teaching. After Lovett accepted the Rice Presidency with the responsibility of planning and opening the new institution, the Rice Trustees sent him on an inspection tour of the world’s great universities, traveling throughout Europe and eventually across Russia to Japan,

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The original Jacobs University (IUB) white paper

December 3, 1997Authors: Rice delegation and Bremen task force [We] propose the following bold initiative: to create a new private international university in the city of Bremen in the Federal Republic of Germany that will have a mission to prepare science and engineering students to be leaders in the international workplace. Our conception of this new university will be defined by the following characteristics: It will be dedicate to the highest possible quality standards with respect to the admission of students, the recruitment of faculty, and the execution of its programs of study and research. It will be an international universityL both students and faculty will be drawn from the city of Bremen, the Federal Republic of Germany, and from Europe, the U.S., and other countries. It will be a private university with an independent governing board from civic, academic, and industrial leaders from the city of Bremen, from Germany, from Europe, and from participating universities in the U.S. The curriculum will emphasize selected disciplines in science and engineering. Courses in the humanities, social sciences, business, and law with be part of an integrated curriculum. The undergraduate program of study will be strongly influenced by the U.S. model, but will also incorporate the best features of the German and European models. Instruction will primarily be in English … The university will be a leading institution in the deployment of information technology to enrich  teaching and learning. This will include distance learning links between the university and its academic partners in the U.S. It will be a research university … It will be a residential learning environment. Students and faculty will live on campus. Sports, cultural and social events will be encouraged to promote interaction and learning outside the classroom.  [There then followed a series of implementation steps and recommendations for administration and governance.]

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15 years later – The Keynote address at IUB Opening Ceremony by Helmut Schmidt

15 years ago in September 2001 Jacobs University (then called IUB) celebrated its Opening. The keynote address was given by Helmut Schmidt – highlighting why we need “institutions of higher learning that are modem, performance-oriented,[…] interdisciplinary, and, at the same time, international”.​Sadly we lost Helmut Schmidt in 2015 – his vision, courage and his words of advice will be missed, especially facing the global political and cultural challenges of the 21st century. In the year 2015 we encountered terrorism as well as economic and humanitarian crisis that will take beyond 2016 to solve. We have faced a similar crisis before – 15 years ago – the opening ceremony of Jacobs University was just days after 9/11. And thus Helmut Schmidt’s words are worth repeating, because they are as relevant today as they were 15 years ago, and to remind us of what we set out to create: “Nobody has only rights; everyone has duties as well. And any elite also has to be an elite of responsibility. “    – Cornelia Scheitz Helmut Schmidt, Former Chancellor of GermanyKeynote Address IUB Opening Ceremony​When Professor Lust, Chairman of the Board of this university, invited me months ago for today’s occasion, I had three good reasons to accept his invitation. First, there was my friendship with Reimar Lust. Second, from the time of my youth, I have felt a special sympathy for the partner city of Bremen – m particular for this very town Grohn-Vegesack, where I spent two years in basic training: face-left, face-right, running, pushups. All pretty senseless, but I still cherish the memory of the Strandlust, the Havenhaus, and the brewer’s agent Take. Incidentally, does the “Grauer Esel” still exist? ​ Third, I’ve been convinced for more than a decade that Germany urgently needs universities such as the one being inaugurated in Bremen today: that is, institutions of higher learning that are modem, performance-oriented, independent of the reins of state bureaucracies, interdisciplinary, and, at the same time, international.I would like to make a few remarks why this necessity exists. First, however, a word about the monstrous crimes against humanity in New York and Washington, which we just witnessed with horror and helplessness from afar.Those of us who remember the assistance received from the American Marshall Plan at the end of World War II and the destruction of Germany; those who recall the numerous instances of foreign aid in the battle against German terrorism; those who know of the United States’ decisive support in the reunification of Germany; but also each of us who takes the belief in human rights and charity seriously: today we all feel an undivided solidarity with the American nation.The extent and the complexity of the simultaneous acts of terrorism against the lives of tens of thousands of Americans, and against the nerve and command centers of the state cannot have been accomplished without extensive organization, without a great number of suicide terrorists, without a great number of assistants and sympathizers, and without a lot of money. Therefore, it will probably not take long to uncover the masterminds of this mammoth crime. Until then, it is necessary for the American as well as all other governments to refrain from any false accusations. Rage, resentment, but also fear might lead to hysterical reactions in many places around the world. Thus, it is, first and foremost, imperative for all governments and politicians to show common sense and balanced reason!Second, all governments should brace themselves against future acts of terrorism and should provide for the safety of their citizens. Third, and concurrently, an extensive search for clues and an investigation of the crime are imperative. In order to achieve this, the governments of all allies and friends of the United States have to pledge their all-encompassing assistance to the American government. It is possible that we are dealing with a private group of terrorists – it could be several groups.It is also possible that a state or a government was an indirect accomplice, as we already experienced in the case of the terror of the RAF it cannot be completely precluded that it might be a group of terrorists created and sanctioned by a state. In each of these possible scenarios, the necessary reactions of the United States and of other threatened countries will be different our country, too, is one of the states threatened by terrorism. In any case, lawful governments will have to honor their own constitutions and the Charter of the United Nations. Therefore, the united decision of the UN Security Council is a reasonable step.If it turns out that the terrorists acted with the support of a state or a government, this might lead to war. Therefore, in particular, rational prudence is required. In any event, the United States will defend itself with great force and vitality and we Germans will stand by its side. It could be – although it is not at all clear yet – that the attacks on the command and nerve centers of the United States are due to a religiously motivated terrorist organization. However, whatever organization is behind this must be brought to justice decisively, even s time to find the truth. We will need patience – keen and intent patience.But let us not turn to religious hatred! For long, since the Middle Ages in fact, our priests and pastors and bishops, our rabbis and mullahs, almost all religious and spiritual leaders have neglected to take a stand against religious hostility. Religious fanatics exist in many religions. There are Christian terrorists – see Northern Ireland. There are Islamic and Jewish terrorists – see the Near East. We cannot exclude the possibility that the attacks against America are due to Islamic terrorists. Should this be the case, it would certainly not be a reason for us to hate all Muslims.There are more than a billion Muslims, more than a billion Christians, and many million Jews. All three religions prohibit murder. Defense and self-defense against murderers, however, are permissible. It is a

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A Tale of Two Universities

On Tuesday, 1st December 2015, JUFA launched its first #GivingTuesday campaign to raise money for the  JUFA Alumni Scholarship Fund. Thanks to Jacobs alumni from North America and beyond the campaigned raised $14,570. The JUFA Alumni Scholarship Fund was founded this year to enable Jacobs alumni to help shape the future of Jacobs University and keep its commitment to academic excellence and a high quality of international education for all, regardless of nationality or financial status. The Jacobs University Foundation of America will continue to grow this endowment over the next five years. The final results of this years campaign will be announced on April 9, 2016 at the reunion for North American based alumni in Palo Alto, California. If you want to know more about North American based alumni initiatives, click here.

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