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?

            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, before returning to Houston. This trip brought Lovett to Hamburg, Berlin, Göttingen, Leipzig and Munich, where he visited universities and polytechnical institutes, seeking ideas to adapt to the situation in Houston. He returned again to Germany in the spring of 1912 to recruit faculty. After more than four years of planning, the Rice Institute accepted its first seventy-seven students and, with a dozen faculty, began classes on September 23, 1912. Rice, from the beginning, appointed distinguished scholars to be professors, it carefully selected its students; it emphasized research and teaching in science, engineering, and selected humanities; and it set excellence as its goal in every endeavor. By the late-twentieth century it had become one of the premier universities in the U.S., with an extraordinarily handsome, park-like campus, a student body as academically talented as any in the world, renowned research programs, strong interdisciplinary centers and institutes, a tradition of superior teaching, a commitment to international study and cooperation, and a residential college system – all made possible by an endowment of more than $3 billion. Though a small university in terms of enrollment (2,700 undergraduate and 1,500 graduate students), it represented the best in American higher education. Rice also had decisive leadership and a history of prompt action to take advantage of opportunities.
            Bremen, too, had a history of acting decisively to seize opportunity. When its major industry of shipbuilding declined because it could no longer compete with the government-subsidized shipyards of Japan and Korea, the city undertook efforts to develop a high-tech industry by building on the strength of the scientific programs of the University of Bremen, the Hochschule Bremen (Bremen Polytechnic), and such significant research facilities as the Alfred-Wegener-Institute für Polar- und Meeresforschung and the Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie. After the final major shipbuilding firm collapsed in 1995, unemployment in the region reached 20 percent. The city leaders clearly recognized the importance of higher education for job creation. To facilitate the synergistic relationship between research and economic development, the city created a special investment program with a trust fund of 4.7 billion DM to promote economic redevelopment, with one billion DM dedicated to investments in the scientific infrastructure. A new opportunity presented itself after 1993 when U.S. military forces vacated a base in Garlstedt in nearby Lower Saxony and made it available to Germany. German officials decided to move the army logistics schools in a series of stages from its old site in Grohn, between Bremen and Bremerhaven, to the former U.S. base, with the move largely completed by 1996. The supply school, established at the base in the mid-1950s and formally known as Roland-Kaserne, with its barracks, classrooms, and other buildings occupied a well-located “campus” of about eighty acres (32 hectares). The base had originally been built in the mid-1930s as a mobile anti-aircraft installation, and, for almost a decade after World War II, it had served the needs of displaced persons. (The small church on the site had been constructed by Americans during this period.) While the departure of the logistics school meant more immediate job losses, it also opened up the possibility of the site becoming available for another use, but what would that be? Everyone understood that here was a large plot of land, complete with buildings, that could possibly be utilized, in some fashion, to improve the local economy, but precisely what might be done with the site was undecided.
            One firm idea did emerge. The Hochschule Bremen with its 6,500 students and 180 faculty was cramped for space in its current location. Its ambitious President, Dr. Ronald Mönch, envisaged moving the Hochschule Bremen northward to completely new quarters at the location of the former logistics school, a move that would be much to the advantage of the technical college. The Senator for Education, Middle-Size Business, Technology, and European Affairs, Hartmut Perschau, supported this idea, as did most other Senators, because, on the surface, it seemed an appropriate use of the land and a solution to the overcrowding of the technical college – and no other viable competing proposal had been promoted. The region, called Bremen-Nord, obviously needed economic assistance after the loss of shipbuilding and military jobs. In April 1997, Klaus-Jürgen Timm[2] from Senator Perschau’s office meet with Senator Bringfriede Kahrs – the Senator for Education, Science, Arts, and Sports – and her Deputy Minister, Rainer Köttgen, who managed the educational budget, ostensibly to discuss with them the idea of relocating the technical college. Timm’s preliminary proposal was complete with architectural plans.
            This was the first Senator Kahrs had heard of the proposal, even though the logistic school site was in her district. She and Köttgen were somewhat taken aback but responded that they needed to think about the project. Two days later, they were surprised to learn from press reports that the Hochschule Bremen was moving to the Grohn campus. But no decision had actually been made, and Senator Kahrs and a few others quickly questioned the wisdom of such a move. How would the region, as a whole, gain simply by moving the technical college from location to another, admittedly with additional new buildings? How much would such a move cost? Would it so drain the redevelopment trust funds that little would be left over for other purposes, or for such institutions as the University of Bremen? Was this the best use of the site, or of the funds, if one carefully considered the long-term needs of the entire region? Doubts arose in the minds of several thoughtful people.
            Senator Kahrs and Mr. Köttgen requested that a consultant investigate the cost of the proposal, and the price tag turned out to be 500 million DM or more. Yet, there was only a total, from various sources, of 300 million DM conceivably available – and that included 70 million DM for new construction at the existing Hochschule Bremen campus. Hence, the maximum amount available for use at the Grohn location was 230 million DM. Doubters now had real ammunition with which to critique the proposal, but as yet they had no alternative project. Dr. Alexander Ziegler-Jöns, who directed the redevelopment trust funds, Rektor Jürgen Timm of the University of Bremen, even Mayor Henning Scherf, whose party favored the relocation of the technical college, raised questions about the move and sought fresh ideas about how the Grohn barracks site might be more advantageously utilized. Senator Kahrs was eager – if not desperate – for other options. At one of her monthly meetings, in May or June, with faculty of the University of Bremen, she told them she needed ideas about what to do, but there was no immediate response. However, news of her request spread by word of mouth, and certain professors like mathematician Dr. Hans-Otto Peitgen individually began to ponder the issue. Rektor Timm also discussed the issue with Senator Kahrs. Ideas began to surface and float around, with one suggestion prompting another. Rektor Timm spoke with Mayor Scherf about the possibility of some kind of cooperative venture with one of more American universities. Timm called a group of University of Bremen faculty together, with Deputy Minister Köttgen in attendance, for the purpose of discussing the disadvantages of relocating the technical college, and seeking, instead, a range of alternative proposals.
            Subsequent meetings were held. Someone suggested that a number of American universities be invited to develop programs, or branch operations, or undefined partnerships. The idea of international involvement was particularly attractive. Should these proposed American initiatives be institutionally tied to the existing University of Bremen? Professor Peitgen liked the idea of private universities; his experience with several such universities in the United States had been extremely positive. These ongoing discussions also turned to the much-publicized recent criticisms of the German university system. Could something be done that both addressed the economic development needs of Bremen and simultaneously provided a model for higher education that might lead to reforms in the nation’s universities? This brainstorming produced a wide spectrum of ideas by no firm consensus. With Rektor Timm’s leadership, it was finally decided to examine the possibility of cooperation with one or more American universities, and the decision was made to look more closely at the top fifty or sixty of them, focusing on those that emphasized teaching and research. Then they sought to determine if there were faculty at the University of Bremen who had a personal research relationship with faculty at any of the leading U.S. universities that had been identified. If so, it was decided that these Bremen faculty should telephone their American colleagues and ascertain if their universities would possibly be interested in exploring some cooperative venture with the University of Bremen, with the promise that land and start-up funds could be provided. If the telephone calls indicated interest, the Bremen faculty should communicate the results to the group – a group not yet formal enough to be labeled a task force but one that did represent the interests of a growing number of academic and political leaders in Bremen. With these instructions of what to do next, the meeting ended and the faculty returned to their offices to make their telephone calls.
            Leaving this meeting, mathematician Heinz-Otto Peitgen quickly decided to telephone a colleague at Rice University in Houston. He had heard of Dr. Raymond O. (Ronny) Well’s work some fifteen years before, and they had met in Florida, in 1994, where they discovered their common interest in transforming how mathematics was taught in lower schools. Professor Peitgen had lectured at Rice even before he came to know Wells, but after this Florida meeting he returned to Rice to lecture. He became so taken with Rice – its beautifully forested campus, its stunning architecture, the close relationship between students and faculty – that he had even tried to persuade one of his daughters to attend. He was successful in persuading Professor Wells to become a visiting professor at the University of Bremen during the 1995-1996 academic year, where their sense of shared mission was strengthened. Peitgen, therefore, was very well acquainted with Wells, he knew that Wells knew Bremen and was fluent in German, and he knew that Wells’s wife, Rena, was a native of Bremen – in fact, her great-great-great grandfather had been Mayor Johann Smidt, who had founded the new port of Bremerhaven in 1827. Hence, Peitgen could reasonably expect that Ronny Wells would be interested in the proposal Peitgen was about to deliver. So, independent of the remarkable similarities between Bremen and Houston, it was the purely personal and professional relationship that existed between two mathematicians that led to the critical telephone call.
            Shortly before 11:00 in the morning Houston time, October 22, 1997, the telephone rang in Wells’s office. Peitgen said, dramatically, “I’m making only one phone call, and it is to you because I think you’re crazy enough to take the idea seriously.” Then Peitgen concisely spelled out a proposal: the city-state of Bremen has an opportunity for an American university to create a possible branch campus on the site of an abandoned military barracks north of the city, and there would land, buildings, and start-up funds of approximately $100 million to launch the project. Would Rice, inquired Peitgen, be interested in such a project? After he hung up, Wells sat in his office, simultaneously stunned and excited by this bolt from the blue. After a few minutes, he regained his composure and quickly called this office of the Rice University President, Dr. Malcolm Gillis, asking for an appointment. As luck would have it, Gillis had a cancellation that very afternoon at 4:30pm. Wells came over, and to his pleasant astonishment, Gillis instantly recognized the momentousness of the proposal and became excited by the possibility.
            Completely independent of this proposal, Gillis – a distinguished and developmental economist with a background of significant world-wide consulting and administrative experience, at both Duke University and Harvard University, before accepting the Presidency of Rice in 1993 – had long been convinced that Germany would again be the crossroads of Europe in politics, economics, and culture. He had visited Germany several times and, even a decade before, had tried to interest the Duke administration in developing an American academic presence, perhaps a division of Duke, in Berlin, but with no success. More recently, two other established German public universities had approached Rice about establishing a working partnership in narrowly specialized programs, though Gillis was skeptical about the prospects of such enterprises. But Gillis believed that the Bremen offer could be more fruitful for three reasons: he knew that in Bremen they would be dealing with only one level of government; he knew that the two major political parties had a good track record of collaboration; and he knew that the existing public university supported the initiative. After five minutes of talking with Wells, Gillis called Provost David H. Auston, whose scholarly field was electrical engineering, to join the discussion. Within another five minutes, Gillis, growing more excited by the minute, telephoned the Chairman of the Rice Board of Trustees, attorney E. William Barnett, to quickly relay the gist of the ongoing conversation. Within several more minutes, President Gillis asked Provost Auston and Professor Wells if they, along with a couple of other colleagues from Rice, could fly to Bremen within the next few weeks to engage them in further discussion. Wells remembered looking at his watch: it was 4:45pm, and already a significant decision had been reached. Quickly it was decided to ask the Dean of Natural Sciences, Dr. James L. Kinsey, and Professor C. Sydney Burrus, Director of the Computer and Information Technology Institute, to join them on the trip.
            Wells’s head was spinning with all the possibilities as he walked back to his office. The next morning he got up at 3:00am Houston time to call Professor Peitgen in Bremen, where it was seven hours later, in order to say that the President and the Board of Trustees of Rice University wanted to send a delegation to Bremen to investigate the possibility of some kind of cooperative endeavor. They wanted to know more about the Bremen situation. That afternoon, Peitgen reported back to the informal task group, and though others with their telephone calls to seven different universities had gotten moderately positive comments, nothing was as immediate and forthcoming as the Rice response. The group decided to invite the Rice delegation to make an exploratory visit. On November 7, 1997, Mayor Dr. Henning Scherf sent a formal invitation to Rice, and preparations began on both sides of the Atlantic for the upcoming visit later that month. Mayor Scherf had closed his letter with the assurance “that Bremen will go out of its way to help you in your endeavors” to develop a cooperative relationship between Rice and the various institutions in Bremen, but no one was yet exactly sure what form this relationship would take.
Dr. Alexander Ziegler-Jöns – who was responsible for scientific development and planning in Senator Kahrs office, and also directed the one billion DM fund established by the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen for economic redevelopment in that area – went to the web page of Rice University and quickly recognized the high level of the team Rice was sending to Bremen: the Provost and a Dean (both of whom were members of the National Academy of Sciences), the head of a major research institute, and the original contact person, Professor Wells. Dr. Ziegler-Jöns instantly notified the Bremen planners of the visit that “these were VIPs and had to be treated as such.” Consequently, an elaborate schedule was developed that included visits to many of the historic, academic, and research facilities of the region, complete with meetings with many of those who had been instrumental in the initial outreach to the American university: Rektor Dr. Jürgen Timm of the University of Bremen, Professor Peitgen, Senator Kahrs and Senator Josef Hattig (the Senator for Economy, Technology, and European Affairs), Dr. Ziegler-Jöns, and many others; Mayor Scherf would not be present because of a longstanding prior invitation to go to India. The Rice delegation was scheduled to arrive on Sunday, November 16, but the trip began disastrously when the flight out of Houston on the afternoon of November 15 was cancelled. The Rice group came the next day, arriving on Monday, so the extremely full schedule had to be compressed. The resulting whirlwind of locations and individuals figuratively left the Rice delegates gasping for breath, but they were mightily impressed by the academic, research, and cultural facilities they were shown, the enthusiasm of their hosts, and the remarkable openness to new ideas demonstrated by the leaders of the Bremen community.
            No completely firm concept of what should or might be done yet existed among the group of Bremen academicians, politicians, and business leaders who were thinking about possibilities. Everyone knew that some kind of educational research initiative would be advantageous for invigorating the economy of the region, and most people assumed that the this initiative would take the form of some kind of branch of one or more major universities in the United States in partnership with the existing universities and technical institutes of Bremen. The word “international” occurred repeatedly in the conversations. There was also a general though usually implicit recognition that the system of higher education in Germany was very significantly flawed. The universities were inefficient, rigid, too often mired in mediocrity, impersonal, and seldom inspired true academic excellence. The year before (May 3, 1996), Professor Dr. Reimar Lüst, one of the most widely respected scientific and academic figures in the nation – former Director General of the European Space Agency, former President of the Max-Planck-Society, current President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation – had written a notable article in Die Zeit entitled “Let us Learn from the Americans.” In this forthright essay, Lüst had outlined many of the problems that afflicted German universities and called for explicit reforms along the lines of American universities. Lüst had concluded that both his experiences with American universities and with those of Germany had convinced him “that something decisively new had to happen if our universities want to stay competitive internationally.”
            The members of the Bremen task force certainly had their local needs and advantages foremost in mind as they showed the Rice delegation around and imagined all sorts of possibilities, but also in the back of their minds – in addition to the comments of Lüst – was a much-discussed address on German higher education that Roman Herzog, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, had given at the Berlin Education Forum on November 5, 1997, less than two weeks before the Texas visitors had arrived. Herzog also had diagnosed the maladies of the Germany university system and called for a number of specific reforms that were quite similar to Lüst’s prescriptions: among other things, Herzog called for an educational system that was truly international, one that was diversified, one that allowed for competition, and “above all,” he had said, “let us give private institutions of education their chances.” And he insisted that this system should be one “which supports achievement [but] does not exclude anyone…” In the intellectual milieu created by Lüst and Herzog, the innovative suggestion of the Rice delegation – as bold and almost literally unthinkable as it might have initially seemed – found surprisingly quick acceptance. Herzog’s address in particular – in part because it was so recent – conditioned the Bremen group to see new possibilities.
            But that’s getting ahead of our story. On the evening before the final day of their visit, the members of the Rice delegation returned to their hotel rooms both excited about they had seen and heard in Bremen – the can-do attitude reminded them of Houston and Texas – and somewhat depressed because they all knew that Rice was in no position to open anything like a branch campus in Bremen or expend a substantial portion of its revenues on such a project. President Gillis, they knew, strongly opposed diverting Rice’s revenues from its primary mission, which was to maintain a distinguished academic program in Houston. Also, Gillis believed that any U.S. branch campus would find public acceptance difficult in Germany – one could not simply transplant an American university to Bremen. During the night, a possible way to break the impasse occurred to Provost Auston, and the next morning, at a breakfast attended only by the Rice delegates, he described his idea. Auston began by making clear that Rice officials could afford neither the time nor financial commitments to operate a branch campus, but he said that Rice could really be engaged in and supportive of a completely new and autonomous university in Bremen, one that was privately endowed and funded, selective in terms of its students – that is, a genuine teaching and research university (emphasizing science and engineering) along the lines of Rice itself. The idea was, in the words of President Gilles, “the enabling vision” of what followed. The other members of the Rice delegation, who had come to breakfast, in the words of one of them, “with a heavy heart,” were exhilarated by the concept, but what would their hosts think?
            That morning, November 19, the Rice delegation and several members of the Bremen task force – including Senator Kahrs and Rainer Köttgen, her deputy – boarded the Senate Launch from the Martinianleger (jetty) in downtown Bremen for a trip down the Weser river headed for an eventual tour of the proposed academic site on the grounds of the soon-to-be-vacated army logistics school at Grohn, some eleven miles (eighteen kilometers) north of the center of the city. Provost David Auston broached his idea en route, and the Bremen task force seemed both astonished ad fascinated by the conception. Here was a bold, imaginative idea, one that held out the possibility of addressing not only the immediate economic needs of Bremen by jumpstarting new industry, but also of establishing a new model of university education that could ultimately benefit not only the University of Bremen but all of German higher education. The potential seemed almost beyond anyone’s imagining, and it took the Bremen task force members by storm. Auston had succeeded – perhaps without completely realizing it – in coalescing all the separate ideas that had arisen in the previous Bremen discussions. When the Rice delegation toured the site of the logistics school, with its attractive brick buildings and ample forested grounds, each of them was struck by how much the military base looked and “felt” like a small residential college campus in the United States. This impression only invigorated further consideration of the idea of a fully independent private university in this old medieval city, and animated conversation extended throughout the day and into a discussion period that evening at 6:00pm in the Senate Hall of the Renaissance-era Rathaus in Bremen (City Hall). The evening concluded with a formal dinner given by State Councilor Professor Dr. Reinhard Hoffman in the Kaminsaal of the Rathaus. That evening, all the delegates went to bed practically exhausted by the full calendar of activities over the last three days, but invigorated by the possibilities they hardly dared imagine.
            The next morning, the Rice delegation left the hotel before sunrise for the long flight back to Houston, and in-flight, Provost Auston, though sick with a cold, wrote out a fuller version of his idea on a yellow legal pad and passed it around to the other members of the Rice delegation for comments and suggestions. Shortly after arriving in Houston, the handwritten document was taken to Auston’s assistant, Dorothy Gilpatrick, who quickly typed it and sent it by e-mail to Dr. Ziegler-Jöns. After some minor tinkering with the text, both by Rice leaders and by several members of the task force in Bremen, the final document (dated December 3, 1997) was subsequently sent to the Academic Affairs committee of the Rice Board of Trustees and, more momentously, presented to the members of the Bremen Senate by Senator Kahrs. Here is the heart of the “White Paper” that the Rice spokesmen transmitted to their Bremen colleagues:

  • [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 dedicated 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 university; 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 will 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 be primarily 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.]

            It was clear that this proposal was in the spirit of the most advanced discussions afoot in Germany about how to revitalize its system of higher education. But this was still a working paper, a concept in the process of being thought through and finalized, and nothing was settled. The next key decisions had to be made in Bremen – to use a sports metaphor, the ball was in their court. The marching of tens of thousands of discontented students through the streets of Bonn on November 27, 1997, in protest of the underfunding, overcrowding, and resultant impersonalism of German universities only increased the urgency of considering the Bremen initiative.
            Those who had been a part of the Bremen task force seeking an American academic partner had already begun the struggle to win widespread political support for the bold new proposal. Rektor Jürgen Timm of the University of Bremen, who envisioned how the new university could help him improve his university in the fashion of the Stanford-Berkeley experience in California, often and effectively spoke to groups on behalf of the proposal. Mayor Henning Scherf was fully and enthusiastically behind the new idea and employed his considerable political skills to generate support. Senator Kahrs worked tirelessly to persuade fellow Senators, and Rainer Köttgen and Dr. Alexander Ziegler-Jöns, of Kahr’s office, ably and shrewdly communicated the advantages of the concept. As opposed to the more expensive operation of simply moving the Hochschule Bremen to the Grohn site, which really produced nothing new for the region and created no net increase in jobs or new possibilities, the advocates of the Rice proposal tried to persuade other Senators, at least, to explore more fully this new idea that held such promise for Bremen. The advocates of the initiative were slowly making headway even before Senator Perschau, who had been a strong supporter of relocating the Hochschule Bremen to the vacated barracks in Grohn, became the Senator for Finance. Replacing him as Senator for Economy, Mid-size Business, Technology, and European Affairs was Josef Hattig, the skilled entrepreneur who had made Beck’s Beer the leading European beer export and a brand known around the world.
            Hattig understood the importance of both internationalism and competition, since he had not previously been involved in his party’s (Christian Democrats) advocacy of moving the Hochschule Bremen to the new campus, it was easier for him to disavow the move (Senator Perschau also later fully supported the new proposal). Hattig perceived the significant promise of developing a new, international, private university for the state. The supporters of the international university were pushing hard for the Parliament to authorize a delegation to visit Rice University in the new year to form a better idea of what such a university was like and to gauge the depth of the Rice support for the Bremen proposal. On December 16th, 1997, the Parliament adopted, in principle, the so-called White Paper proposing an American-type private university in Bremen, and plans got underway to send a high-level delegation to Houston. Mayor Scherf pushed hard for Hattig to join the delegation, really imploring him to go. Finally Hattig agreed, though he would have to go early and return before the rest of the delegates completed their mission of inspection – but he would travel to Houston. Ultimately, if the idea was to succeed in the Parliament, it was essential that Senator Hattig be on board.
            The Bremen delegation – Senator Kahrs along with Mr. Köttgen and Dr. Ziegler-Jöns, Professor Peitgen, Rektor Timm of the University of Bremen, and Mr. Wolfgang Schmidt, head of technology and small and medium business enterprises within the office of Senator Hattig – was scheduled to arrive in Houston on Saturday, February 7, 1998, but Senator Hattig arrived Friday afternoon, February 6. That evening, Senator Hattig had dinner with President Gillis and Provost Auston, and Hattig and Gillis instantly liked one another. The conversation that evening eased everyone’s concerns, and meetings and a brunch on Saturday (attended by Auston, Professor Wells, and two other top Rice administrators) continued the process of explaining the operation and mission of this American private university to the cosmopolitan Hattig. That afternoon, Auston and Wells accompanied Senator Hattig to the Texas ranch of Rice Trustee, D. Kent Anderson, and his wife, Linda. The visit was a great success – again, businessman Hattig and banker Anderson instantly liked and trusted one another. While Hattig was seeing part of the Texas ranching heritage and enjoying western hospitality, the rest of the Bremen delegation (with the exception of Professor Peitgen, who arrived Sunday afternoon) was landing at Bush Intercontinental Airport, and later that evening, the entire group met for dinner in downtown Houston, with Provost Auston and Professor Wells serving as hosts. Senator Hattig had been extremely impressed by what he saw at Rice, and he told Senator Kahrs that whatever was decided the next day in favor of the project, she had his support to accept.
            Sunday morning was free time for the delegation, and that afternoon, as Senator Hattig had a farewell meeting with Provost Auston before departing for the airport, the others in the delegation left for a VIP tour of the NASA Johnson Space Center, some twenty-miles south of the center of the city. Professor Peitgen arrived while the rest of the delegation was at the NASA installation, and during a private meeting with Provost Auston and Professor Wells, Professor Peitgen – who already knew Rice and other private universities well – frankly stated that there was no way a similar university could be developed in Germany without very substantial involvement by Rice, and he strongly urged such support on the part of Rice. Provost Auston concurred with this judgment and acknowledged that, yes, Rice could do this. The next day, February 9, was filled with meetings – with former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, a Rice Trustee, and Ambassador Edward Djerijian, Director of Rice’s Baker Institute of Public Policy; with E. William Barnett, Chairman of the Rice Board of Trustees, along with two other Trustees; a luncheon headed by the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Honorable Dr. Wolfgang Moser; meetings with a series of Rice faculty members; and ending with attendance of a performance of the Houston Symphony that evening. The following day, February 10, was similar, with a full program of meetings with faculty and administrators, a luncheon with undergraduate students in the dining hall of Baker College, and a two-hour afternoon meeting with President Gillis and Provost Auston, and others, followed by a press briefing.
            The day concluded with a sumptuous dinner at la Colombe d’Or, and part of the entertainment consisted of a student-sung humorous song entitled “The German Towns of Texas,” with lyrics – suggestive of the rich German heritage of the Lone Star State – composed for the occasion by Michael Hammond, Dean of Rice’s Shepherd School of Music, and set to the music of the well-known German nursery rhyme, “Ein Männlein steht im Walde” (The Little Man in the Forest). Later, in a brief speech to the delegates and assembled Rice guests, President Gillis sketched the beginning or Rice University, pointing out that its founding and visionary President, Edgar Odell Lovett, had traveled to German universities to learn from them as he planned the opening or Rice in 1912. Gillis praised the “cross-fertilization of ideas and insights between American and European institutions” that had so influenced Rice and other American research universities in the past. Then he summarized the “shared mission” that the people in the room that evening were helping to shape: “to unite two great traditions of higher education and research [and] to forge fruitful international linkages that will help our universities to meet the daunting technological, social, and economic challenges of the coming century.” “On behalf of the Rice University community,” he remarked, “I express our hope that this collaboration will be of benefit for generations of students and scholars yet to come.”
            The precise nature of that collaboration had begun to take shape earlier in the day, and over lunch, Professor Wells, Dr. Ziegler-Jöns, and Dr. Thomas J. Hochstettler, Associate Provost of Rice, had met in Dr. Hochstettler’s office to draft a document outlining the proposed relationship. Entitled “Memorandum of Understanding between the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and William Marsh Rice University for the Purpose of Establishing a Private International University at Bremen, Federal Republic of Germany, February 10, 1998,” this foundation for future cooperative endeavor was signed by President Gillis and Senator Kahrs at an afternoon meeting in the President’s Conference Room. At the triumphant signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, President Gillis and Senator Kahrs hugged one another in joy, exulting in what had been accomplished. The next morning, February 11, after a meeting with Charles Duncan, the former Chairman of the Rice Board of Trustees and Secretary of Energy in the Carter administration (and former C.E.O. of Coca Cola), the delegation prepared for a farewell luncheon with Consul General Moser before departing from Houston on the 4:20 KLM flight to Frankfurt. Everyone involved in the meetings over the past four days understood what a major breakthrough they had made. Just what had the Texas university and the German city-state agreed to do in partnership?
            This memorandum set forth the general terms of agreement between the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and Rice University, with Rice making no financial commitment other that providing two faculty for one year (this was later extended) to be involved in further planning of the venture. The document began by recounting the original visit of the Rice delegation to Bremen and the subsequent White Paper that resulted in the present “exploratory” visit of the Bremen delegation to Rice. It then briefly summarized the nature of the institution proposed: “a private research university organized generally according to the model of an American private research university,” with close cooperation with a research park and surrounding businesses and industry, with an administrative system modeled on that of American private universities – that is, “a permanent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees” with “the ultimate power to administer the resources of the university and to delegate authority over routine operations to appropriate officials of administration,” including the President, who would in turn select the deans and faculty. The memorandum made explicit that the new university, as yet unnamed, would depend primarily upon private contributions, endowment funds, and tuition and research grants for its operation, though the door was held open for the possibility of funds from “public entities in the form of research grants, maintenance support, and financial aids to students.”
            The state of Bremen, the document certified, “is committed to providing the physical plant as a campus for the new university, in the form of the soon to be vacated Bundeswehr military school facility at Bremen-Grohn.” The state also committed to provide the resources during the planning and start-up phase of the university, and Rice contribution would be two faculty members for a year, along with recommendations that one of more members of Rice’s Board of Trustees consider participating on what was called the new university’s “founding” Board of Governors. Rice also agreed to urge some of its students to study at the new university, to solicit additional partnerships with other American universities, and to provide expert assistance in fundraising efforts. Very importantly, at the suggestion of Professor Wells, a Joint Planning Committee was established, listed in the document not in two separate columns determined by institutional affiliation but alphabetically, suggesting the truly cooperative and bilateral nature of the enterprise:
            David H. Auston                                          Rainer Köttgen
            Sidney Burrus                                              Heinz-Otto Peitgen
            Josef Hattig                                                   Wolfgang Schmidt
            Thomas J. Hochstettler                               Jürgen Timm
            Bringfriede Kahrs                                        Raymond O. Wells, Jr.
            James L. Kinsey                                            Alexander Ziegler-Jöns
            The memorandum concluded with a prospective calendar, a “timetable of critical events,” that laid down a schedule for creating a legal entity to receive funds on behalf of the new university, drafting a mission statement and beginning to plan the new university, naming a Founding Board of Governors, starting the search for a President, and renovating the facilities, with an anticipated opening of classes in the autumn of 2000 – a bold and ultimately too optimistic agenda for future action. Classes would actually begin in the autumn of 2001.
            Returning home, the Bremen task force began work to convince fellow Senators of the wisdom of rejecting the idea of moving the Hochschule Bremen to the Grohn site and, instead, developing what was now being called “a private international research university in Bremen” – no official name had yet been decided upon. On the very night of his return, Senator Hattig attended a party function and began to lobby for the new idea. Rektor Timm of the University of Bremen deflected worries among several Senators that a new university could threaten his university and argued, instead, that the private university would have a complementary rather than a competitive relationship with the present state university. Senator Kahrs risked severe political criticism by pushing the new concept when the voters of her district favored the relocation of the technical college, and Mayor Scherf employed his considerable political clout on behalf of the new university. The Mayor, Mr Köttgen, Dr. Ziegler-Jöns, and other supporters began to solicit important, influential, wise individuals to serve on the so-called Founding Board of Governors, although, eventually, this group simply became the first Board of Governors. It was essential that the right kind of Board members be selected, and that they accept. Mayor Scherf and Mr Köttgen, in particular, used all their persuasive skills to this effect. They would eventually have remarkable success in getting their ideal choices to accept the challenge of creating a private, international university. The prestige of those who accepted this task, the planners understood, would instantly give credibility to the endeavor. One reason individuals of such stature agreed to participate is because of the prestige of the Planning Committee itself, soon augmented by two critically significant members. One of the crucial new members, joining in April 1998, was Dr. Dietrich Zeyfang, widely known and respected in Bremen for having built the giant Mercedes-Benz plant, the largest employer in the state. Dr. Zeyfang had long supported change in German higher education, and in fact had been favorably disposed toward American education since his experience in 1953 as a high school exchange student to the United States. He was the first individual from the private sector to get involved in planning the new university, and everyone knew how necessary private-sector support would be for the future of the venture.
            The most important addition to the Planning Committee was Dr. Reimar Lüst, the eminent physicist and scientific administrator, who had unequalled academic cachet in Germany. Lüst had long known Mayor Scherf – their fathers knew each other – and Lüst, as indicated by his 1996 article in Die Zeit, had great interest in reforming German higher education along American lines. He was past retirement age and had no need to get involved in another project, but was something near to his heart. In response to entreaties from Mayor Scherf, Lüst wrote a letter of acceptance on June 25, 1998, but laid down five prerequisites for his decision: that the Senate and Parliament of Bremen be willing to build a private university; that Rive University be involved in the project; that the existing state university be supportive; that it be a real university, not a narrow, specialized institute; and that its essential administrative structure be similar to that of Rice and other American universities, with a high-ranking Board, a President responsible only to that Board (and with more authority than the traditional Rektor in German universities), the ability to charge tuition and choose its own students, and with financial assistance available for talented but impoverished students. These requirements laid down by Dr. Lüst were, of course, perfectly compatible with what was envisioned at the creation in Houston of the Joint Planning Committee, so his appointment as Chairman of the committee was both appropriate and a signal that important work was underway in Bremen – his joining the committee attracted widespread public attention and made the front pages of the nation’s major newspapers.
            Much work was being accomplished by the Planning Committee, and its members were also active in the community. At the suggestion to Dr. Ziegler-Jöns by Associate Provost Hochstettler of Rice that the Planning Committee needed a “war chest” (Kriegskasse) to pay its expenses, the Bremen government put 100,000 DM aside to support necessary expenditures. This simply ratified the seriousness of the undertaking. Then it was realized that the statutory law of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen specified the number of universities that were allowed, and named them, with no provision for the possibility of another – much less a private university. Discussion had already been underway about revising this law, so with the adroit political skills of key supporters of the new Rice-Bremen project, several additional paragraphs were added that explicitly permitted the creation of a private university. This would never have occurred to anyone, had not the current plans been underway. In late April 1998, Professor Wells and Dr. Hochstettler from Rice arrived to assist the Planning Committee in further academic planning, which consisted, in part, in developing the Planning Committee’s Executive Committee into a working body, and they arrived with the gist of a document already drafted. This five-page document began to put flesh on the still bare bones of what is called the “Bremen Academic Initiative.” It suggested a series of “Critical First Tasks” and laid out preliminary ideas about the kinds of degree programs that should be established, aspects of faculty life to be considered, the nature of the student body, residential life, student recruitment, and details of university governance and administration, including the prescribed roles of Deans and other officers. Here, the real structure of the university began to take shape. In subsequent weeks, these plans became ever more detailed, with both Bremen and Rice co-workers crafting the desired character of the new university. As the plans matured, the original idea that the institution would primarily have a science-engineering focus evolved toward a broader conception of university, with humanities/social sciences having increased importance in the curriculum. There was still an expectation that another U.S. university, perhaps the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), would also join the Rice-Bremen partnership, but MIT never followed through after the initial conversations. This was disappointing at first, but very quickly, every key Bremen participant came to believe that it was better to have only one American partner, particularly if that partner was as forthcoming as Rice was proving to be.
            The proposed new university became known, at this time, to many Bremen citizens as a result of a spur-of-the-moment programming decision by the popular local television news-magazine show Buten un Binnen (“Inside and Outside,” part of the motto of the Bremen Chamber of Commerce). The Planning Committee had scheduled a press conference on Friday, April 24, in Senator Kahr’s office, and Dr. Ziegler-Jöns, Dr. Hochstettler, and Professor Wells spoke to a variety of media representatives about the initial visit of the Rice delegation, then the Bremen delegation’s visit to Houston, and the ongoing planning for the new university. After the news conference, the reporter for Radio Bremen came up to Professor Wells, said he was intrigued by what he had heard, and asked him if he would appear that evening – live – on the Buten un Binnen program. Although somewhat taken aback, Professor Wells accepted the invitation. He and Dr. Hochstettler took a taxi to the station to prepare for the broadcast. After another guest and the local news, the program turned to the Bremen academic initiative. First there were impressive shots of the logistics base, with soldiers jogging and demonstrations of heavy military equipment being moved. Then the program turned to the moderator on the set, who interviewed Professor Wells. Wells outlined the history of the project and briefly sketched the rationale for the new university and its nature as a private, autonomous, residential university modeled substantially on Rice University. The visuals were effective, the moderator asked intelligent, appropriate questions, and Professor Wells – responding in fluent German – answered effectively. The whole was an unanticipated public relations coup for the Planning Committee.
            While the Buten un Binnen telecast was an unplanned stroke of good luck, part of the program to generate support for the anticipated new university was to have spokesmen describe, to a variety of constituencies across Germany, both the planning process then underway and the intended result. For example, on June 22, 1998, Provost Auston, accompanied by Dr. Hochstettler, made a presentation to the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft in Bonn. This address sketched out the major characteristics of a private, international, research university for this assembly of industrial leaders who gather annually to support initiatives in higher education; and a more formal text, with far more specifics about the academic initiatives at Bremen, was published in the proceedings of the meeting. Rektor Timm of the University of Bremen also presented a paper at the Bonn meeting, emphasizing that a private university would not work against the interests of the state university. (Provost Auston had earlier spoken to a friends group (Uni-Freunde) at the University of Bremen, and he, too, had promoted the healthy competitive relationship that could be expected to develop between the existing university and the proposed one.) Within days of the Bonn meeting, the news came that Dr. Reimar Lüst had accepted the chairmanship of the planning committee in Bremen. These two events really put the steps being undertaken in Bremen on the map. A number of notices appeared in German newspapers, and even Science Magazine (June 19, 1998) in the U.S. had a fulsome story on the proposed international university in Bremen. Momentum was building.
            Unit this point, President Gillis had not visited Bremen, but that was to change in July 1998. A Rice delegation – President and Mrs. Gillis, Professor Wells and Dr. Hochstettler, and Rice trustee William N. Sick – arrived on July 9 (Sick actually came the next day). Reminiscent of the visit of the original Rice delegation in November 1997 and the Bremen delegation’s visit to Houston in February 1998, the schedule was jam-packed with consultations with academic, government, and civic leaders; visits to key educational and cultural institutions in Bremen; and a tour of the proposed campus site in Grohn. But this visit had special features too. On the afternoon of their arrival, President Gillis and Dr. Hochstettler had caught a train to Bono, and there the next morning, Gillis had a meeting with Dr. Jürgen Rüttgers, the Minister for Education, Science, Research, and Technology of the Federal Republic of Germany, who gave his full support of the collaboration between Rice and the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. (Gillis had first met Minister Rüttgers four months earlier when the Minister had visited the NASA facility in Houston.) Returning to Bremen to join the rest of the Rice delegation and the members of the Planning Committee, and following an explanation of the zero-gravity research undertaken at the Drop Tower of the University of Bremen, the first formal meeting of the Planning Committee, chaired by Dr. Lüst, was held.
            All the participants appreciated the significance of this planning session. Professor Wells reviewed developments from the first telephone call from Professor Peitgen to the present raft of publicity in the newspapers. Next, heartfelt remarks were delivered, in succession, by President Gillis, Senator Kahrs, Senator Hattig, Dr. Lüst, and Rektor Timm. The full commitment to the project of everyone, and the institutions and agencies they headed, became manifest. Then, an outline of the next steps needed to be taken was decided upon, including continued efforts to create a prestigious founding Board of Governors, drafting a persuasive Mission Statement, and finalizing financial backing. In response to a question put to the committee by Dr. Lüst, a strong consensus was reached that humanities/social sciences should be on equal par with sciences and engineering. Finally, it was announced that local industrialist, Conrad Naber – who had been greatly impressed with Provost Auston’s recent presentation to the University of Bremen’s friends group (Uni-Freunde) – had donated the use of an extensive floor of office space on Bürgermesiter-Smidt-Strasse in downtown Bremen for the use of the Planning Committee. At last, this new university-in-the-making had a physical existence (and soon had its first employee, Doris Fedler, in its sparsely furnished office, which was promptly renovated and redecorated). And on that high note, the meeting adjourned. The Rice delegation and the Planning Committee members then moved to the home of Mayor Scherf and his wife Luise for a welcoming dinner. Joining the group were several friends of the planned university, including donor Conrad Naber.
            The next day, Saturday, was filled with events, featuring a tour of the Kunsthalle (Museum of Fine Arts), and the day concluded with a memorable dinner at the home of Senator Hattig. The instant rapport between Gillis and Hattig that had developed in Houston back in February demonstrated itself, once again. Sunday morning was free so that those who wished could attend church, but the highlight of the afternoon was a boat trip down the Weser to visit the campus site at Grohn, with additional tours in Bremen-Nord. As before, the beauty and layout of the former logistics base suggested to the Americans a residential college. An already eventful day ended with a dinner, hosted by IUB board member Dr. Peter Haßkamp of the Bremer Landesbank, at the Menke Villa with a number of faculty, institute heads, and other leaders of the University of Bremen.
            Monday, July 13, proved to be a memorable one for the Rice delegation. During the morning, President Gillis and Rice Trustee William Sick attended a reception and then addressed the members of the Chamber of Commerce in its historic building, the “Schütting,” across the Market Square (Marktplatz) from the magnificent Rathaus and St. Peter’s Cathedral (St. Petri Dom). Sick outlined the role of Trustees in an American private university, and Gillis reiterated the rationale for the Rice-Bremen partnership, pointing out how such cooperation was in the best interests of all involved. Implicit in his remarks was an acknowledgement of the particular relationship between Rice (whose first President had earned a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Leipzig and had traveled to Germany both to seek advice on the initial organization of Rice and to seek faculty) and Bremen, whose progressive spirit matched that of Rice and Houston. Referring to the inscription above the entrance door to the “Schütting,” Gillis concluded with the words: “Rice University resonates well with the spirit of Bremen. Your motto could easily be ours: ‘Buten un’ binnen, Wagen un’ winnen’ [Inside and Outside, Venture and Win].” That evening, the Rice delegation returned to the Rathaus for a magnificent anniversary celebration of the creation, twenty years earlier in that very hall, of the European Currency System (the Euro). Featured speakers were Valéry Giscard d’Estaing of France and Helmut Schmidt of Germany. No event could have better symbolized to the American visitors the centrality of Germany (and Bremen) to the future of Europe, and President Gillis almost glowed with positive feelings about the Rice-Bremen partnership during and after this festive occasion. (President Gillis invited both keynote speakers to visit Rice University, and within a year President d’Estaing spoke at Rice’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and Chancellor Schmidt delivered the 1999 commencement address.) The next morning, July 14, President and Mrs. Gillis, along with Trustee Sick, returned to the United States, but Professor Wells and Dr. Hochstettler remained behind for one more day to have a long working session with the Bremen members of the Planning Committee. There was yet much to think about, to decide, and to do.
            Initial efforts had already begun on June 11, 1998, led by one of Bremen’s foremost attorneys, Dr. Joachim Theye, to establish the new university, or rather its Planning Committee, as a legal entity; consequently, in early October, the Planning Committee confirmed the restructuring by establishing the International University Planning Cooperation GmbH (International University Bremen Planungsgesellschaft), with Dr. Ziegler-Jöns as its Director (Geschäftsführer). A subgroup of the entire Planning Committee, designated as the Executive Committee, was appointed to expedite more routine matters. This Executive Committee consisted of Dr. Lüst, Chairman; Dr. Hochstettler, Mr Köttgen, Rektor Tim, Professor Wells, Dr. Zeyfang, and Dr. Ziegler-Jöns. Among other details, ever more elaborate policy papers were being prepared on every aspect of university management. In part arising from conversation between Rice Trustee William Sick and Dr. Lüst as they had sat together at the head of the table of the Euro anniversary dinner in July, the decision had been made aggressively to go forward in seeking a President for the new university. Meanwhile, the members of the Planning Committee, led especially, in this matter, by Mayor Scherf and Director of the Senate Köttgen, were vigorously soliciting members of the so-called Founding Board of Governors. In September, a formal name was adopted for the planned institution. Dr. Lüst proposed dropping the word “research” from the clumsy temporary title of “private research university at Bremen’ because every university did research. Further discussion led to more succinct title of International University Bremen (IUB), with the “B” appearing as a superscript in the university’s logo of IUB.
            A number of critical decisions were meanwhile looming in the Parliament of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. The promoters of the IUB (especially Senators Kahrs and Hattig, Mayor Scherf, Director of the Senate Köttgen, and Dr. Ziegler-Jöns) had been pursuing both the transfer of the Grohn military campus to IUB and a significant one-time contribution of funds from the state to make the purchase of the campus, begin necessary renovations to the buildings, and pay salaries and planning expenses before the university could open and aggressively begin its own fund-raising activities and start receiving tuition fees from students. These two key developments – acquisition of the campus and substantial start-up funds of 230 million DM from the government – came to fruition on Tuesday, September 29, 1998, when the Senate unanimously passed a resolution authorizing such action. Rektor Timm of the University of Bremen again played an indispensible role in persuading the Senate that funding IUB would not be detrimental to the interests of his university or of the Hochschule Bremen. Although the authorization of the total funds was given, the schedule of the monetary transfer had not yet been determined. In subsequent months, IUB leaders would persuade the Senate to make the transfer immediately and with no strings attached, other than the IUB’s commitment to reach certain benchmark achievements over a five-year period. These negotiations were complex and tedious, with Rosemarie Goerke in the office of the Senator for Education and Science actually crafting the language of the contract. But more about this later. The first priority was to acquire the campus. The initial estimated cost of the to-be-vacated military base was 55 million DM, but eight months of tedious negotiation (by Dr. Ziegler-Jöns skillfully assisted by Frau Goerke) reduced the estimated cost to 33.4 million DM. But, until the end of the 1999, there was a standing government policy of allowing a 50 percent reduction in cost when military sites were purchased for non-profit uses. Thus, the total cost of the approximately 80-acre campus, complete with buildings, was 16.7 million DM, with the transaction completed by the end of 1999. The city had at first considered purchasing the property and then giving it to IUB, but eventually IUB bought it outright and thereby saved a tax payment.
            Action was occurring on a number of fronts simultaneously. That summer, Professor Wells, while vacationing in Colorado, composed a draft of a mission statement and faxed it to Professor Peitgen and Dr. Zeyfang in Bremen for comments and suggestions. After incorporating their ideas, Wells sent the revised document to Dr. Hochstettler and Dr. Ziegler-Jöns for further comments. This important statement continued to be revised throughout the remainder of the year. In September 1998, Professor Wells took a leave of absence from this Rice post and went to Bremen to work full-time on the Planning Committee. Dr. Ziegler-Jöns worked as a part-time employee of IUB in the role of Geschäftsführer and later, after the President was in place, as an officer of the corporation (a ‘Prokurist’). Wells and Ziegler-Jöns worked closely together, considering every aspect of the new institution. Everything had to be though about and decided upon: the structure of degrees, the process for admitting students, preliminary accreditation by the state (to be eligible for the discount purchase of the campus), developing a media program to publicize IUB worldwide, considering a digital library – eventually it would be decided to explore broad-band access to information sources available electronically at Rice University’s Fondren Library. Mayor Scherf was importuning people to join the Board of Governors, and soon it was decided also to have an honorary Council of Overseers consisting of extremely prominent public figures. Professor Harvey Yunis, a Professor of classics at Rice, had earlier joined the Planning Committee to represent the humanities, and Janet McNeill of the Public Relations office at Rice also joined temporarily to help develop a media plan for IUB. Over the coming months, various Rice University offices – for example, Dr. Charles Henry, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Eric C. Johnson, Vice President for Resource Development, and Terry Shepard, Vice President for Public Affairs – would visit Bremen and share their insights and expertise with IUB staffers, who quickly learned how to adapt Rice advice to their own situation.
            Dr. Lüst, Director of the Senate Köttgen, Mayor Scherf, and other key supporters were beginning to think very hard about choosing a President (not a Rektor, who is more equivalent to a Provost in American universities) for IUB, and everyone recognized how critical this appointment would be to the success of the whole enterprise. In the initial conversation, one name immediately occurred to people Dr. Lüst and Mr. Köttgen: Dr. Fritz Schaumann, who currently served as Deputy Secretary (Staatssekretär) of the Federal Ministry for Education, Science, Research, and Technology. No one better understood the higher education needs of the nation, and no one had more experience in governmental relations or a broader range of contacts in the German academic community. He knew, and was known by, everyone in the firmament of German higher education. Could such a prominent educator be attracted to the new endeavor in Bremen? Dr. Lüst visited him shortly before the federal election and laid before him the ambitious plans. Dr. Schaumann instantly reflected that it was a good idea, an exciting idea, although he pointed out that he expected to remain in his government office. But the coalition formed by the Christian Democrats lost the election on September 27, 1998, and his role in government ended a month later. He formed an educational consulting firm but soon entered into further discussions with Dr. Lüst, Mr. Köttgen, and others about the IUB presidency. As part of his consideration, a trip was arranged for Dr. Schaumann to visit Houston during the first week of December, see Rice University, and talk about the prospects of the transatlantic academic partnership with President Gillis, Provost Auston, and Trustee Kent Anderson. Dr. Ziegler-Jöns and Mr. Köttgen accompanied Dr. Schaumann to Rice, and the trip was a rousing success.
            His visit to Rice convinced Dr. Schaumann that the IUB initiative had a very good chance for success. He returned to Germany, went to Bremen, and discussed the IUB presidency in greater detail with members of the Planning Committee, business and political leaders, and a range of academic spokesmen. After reasonable negotiation, on December 15, Dr. Schaumann accepted the position, his title being Executive Director of the International University Bremen Planning Corporation until the university was formally founded, at which time he would acquire the title of President. The membership of the Board of Governors was completed (persons had been contacted and had agreed to serve, and the official letters of invitation were prepared to be sent out). Plans were set in motion for a Planning Committee meeting in Houston in late January, at which Dr. Schaumann would preside, and a date was picked or the official founding, February 11, 1999.
            Still much remained to be done. Administrative staff members were being selected and hired. The final legal structure of International University Bremen GmbH was being worked on by the Bremen legal firm of Büsing, Müffelmann & Theye in consultation with Rice’s firm in Houston, Baker Botts LLP, specifying the nature of the organization, the role of its governing board, financial responsibilities, and the like. Arrangements were made for the Planning Committee to come to Rice on January 27, 1999, for two solid days of discussion, consultation, and coming to closure on such matters as the legal incorporation of IUB, the mission statements, and exact plans for the official founding two weeks later. Dr. Lüst had also arranged for a reunion meeting in Houston of all the Humboldt Foundation Fellows of the South, along with others from leading national universities, on Saturday evening, with dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel, and this significant meeting added luster to the whole occasion. Also on this trip, Dr. Lüst, who had headed the European Space Agency, made his first visit to the NASA Manned Space Center in Houston. (During the Houston visit President Gillis made an especially poignant presentation to Dr. Lüst of a certificate – signed by then Texas governor George W. Bush – proclaiming him an honorary citizen of Texas. More than a half-century before, as a captured ensign from the German navy, a young Reimar Lüst had spent more than a year in a prisoner-of-war camp near Mexia, Texas. There he had begun his academic training in ad hoc classes taught by German officers – course work for which he eventually received academic credit by the University of Frankfurt. That earlier experience made his return trip to Texas doubly meaningful for Dr. Lüst.) Thursday and Friday were really workdays, with committees and subcommittees putting the final touches on key documents. Brita Schemmann, IUB’s newest (and third) full-time employee, took detailed minutes of these long meetings. There was a sense of excitement in the air; everyone understood that after all the work, all the brainstorming, all the detailed planning, a new university was about to be born having the unlimited potential associated with the birth of a child.
            February 11, 1999, was chosen for the formal founding because the next day was the date of the famous Schaffermahl, the high-profile charity dinner established in 1545 to raise money for widows and children of sailors lost at sea. This is the oldest charity dinner in Germany, and the invited guests (one can be invited only once in a lifetime) and benefactors consider attendance a cardinal event of their life. It is the center of the social season in Bremen and attracts elaborate press and public attention. What better time to announce the creation of a private university whose lifeblood would be philanthropy? And President Gillis had been invited months earlier by Dr. Zeyfang and, hence, would be in Bremen. So the date was set for Thursday, February 11. The long-serving members of the Planning Committee would attend, along with invited guests that included many of the business, political, and academic leaders of Bremen. Special guests would include the Honorable John C. Kornblum, the U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany. Care was taken that members of the press would be present.
            At 4:00pm the Board of Governors met for the first time in the Senate Chamber (Senatssaal) of the Bremen Rathaus, the room where the Bremen government holds its weekly meetings, and their first action was to adopt the legal charger of the university. Second, they appointed Dr. Lüst Chairman of the Board. Then, third, they adopted the Mission Statement of IUB, which had been approved two weeks before in Houston.
            Mission Statement
            International University Bremen is a highly selective, private institution for the advancement of education and research. Its academic programs and cultural environment prepare graduates for international leadership and global citizenship. Multinational students, faculty, and researchers of distinction, with educational partners around the world, collaborate in learning, creating, and disseminating information and new knowledge.
            The New University
            In 1998, the government of Bremen, Germany, and Rice University of Houston, Texas, had the unique opportunity to create such an institution – a new, private, international university to be located on a splendid 100-acre campus in the city-state of Bremen in the heart of central Europe. To be called International University Bremen, it will be linked with Rice University and with the University of Bremen.
             International University Bremen will be an educational, research, and information center with programs of the highest quality, with a highly selective, multinational student body.
It will confer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in disciplinary areas of science, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities. Degree programs will be organized with course credit systems compatible with the American model for full credit transferability with most other universities on all continents.
              Faculty and students will be multinational in origin. International University Bremen will bring together students from all over the world, with a blend of different cultures and economic and social backgrounds that will enhance the educational experience and the capacity for the graduating students to make significant contributions to the diverse international world of the future.
              A principal link between the United States and Europe will be developed in student exchanges: A certain percentage of the student body will be visiting students from Rice and other American universities spending one or two semesters in Bremen, with degree-seeking students of International University Bremen likewise spending semesters in the United States on a reciprocal basis.
             The primary instructional language will be English.

             Students, faculty, and researchers will use new information media as tools for communication, discovery, learning, and dissemination.
             The university will build a strong information center that will include traditional library resources and will also serve as a source for the networked information and dissemination of resources available around the world via systems such as the Internet. Its information program will be a center of excellence in the information technology transformation of the world during the twenty-first century; this will include research and educational programs for using and developing means of creating, dissemination, and archiving information in all its many forms.
              The International University’s research initiatives will focus on areas relating to the degree programs and will also include centers of excellence in other specific areas, especially in cooperation with educational and research partners around the world. The research institutes of International University Bremen will be formally linked with its educational partners (Rice University and University of Bremen, among others) as multi-institutional research centers in areas that will be of value to all the institutions.
              A self-contained, residential campus will create an atmosphere conducive to working, learning and living together productively.
              In all its programs, International University Bremen will foster in its students, faculty, and staff a sense of community and individual responsibility, particularly with respect to global issues such as the sharing of resources, international government and business initiatives, and cultural exchanges across national borders. This multinational culture will involve building individual and institutional bridges between the university and the communities that support it – locally, in Europe, and around the world.
            And last, they appointed Dr. Fritz Schaumann the founding President of International University Bremen. At the end of the brief ceremony, everyone celebrated with a glass of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1983, provided for the occasion by Bernd Hockemeyer, President of the Bremen Chamber of Commerce, from his personal wine cellar. At a press conference held the next morning at the ‘Schütting’ and hosted by Mayor Scherf, President Schaumann, President Gillis, Rektor Timm all answered questions, and they were joined by Mayor Scherf himself and Ambassador Kornblum. All present understood the significance of the occasion and what had been achieved. The distinction of the Council of Overseers and the Board of Governors announced that great things were anticipated in Bremen. Few other universities in the world, even those long established, had so impressive a list of advisors and supporters. Their prestige boded well for the infant university.
            Council of Overseers:
            James A. Baker, III
            Attorney, Houston
            1981-1985, Chief of Staff of the White House
            1985-1986, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
            1989-1992, U.S. Secretary of State
            Dr. h. c. Hans-Dietrich Genscher
            Attorney, Berlin
            1969-1974, Federal Minister of the Interior
            1974-1992, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
            Hilmar Kopper
            Chairman of the Board, Deutsche Bank AG, Frankfurt/Main
            Chairman of the Board, DaimlerChrysler AG, Stuttgart
            Prof. Dr. Reimar Lüst
            Professor for Astrophysics, University of Hamburg
            1972-1984, President, Max Planck Society, Munich
            1984-1989, Director General, European Space Agency, Paris
            1989-1999, President, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Bonn
            Board of Governors:
            Prof. Dr. Reimar Lüst
            Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Frühwald
            Professor for Modern German Literature, University of Munich
            President, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Bonn
            1992-1997, President, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn
            Dr. Malcolm Gillis
            President, Rice University, Houston
            Dr. Hans-Dieter Harig
            Chief Executive Officer, PreussenElektra AG, Hanover
            Dr. Peter Haßkamp
            Chief Executive Officer, Bremer Landesbank, Bremen
            Bernd Hockemeyer
            Owner, Gebrüder Thiele GmbH & Co., Bremen
            President, Bremen Chamber of Commerce
            Gerhard Roggemann
            Board of Directors, Westdeutsche Landesbank, Düsseldorf
            Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Schulz
            Chief Executive Officer, ThyssenKrupp AG, Düsseldorf
            Dr. Ron Sommer
            Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Telekom AG, Bonn
            Dr. h. c. Lothar Späth
            Chief Executive Officer, Jenoptik AG, Jena
            President, Chamber of Industry and Commerce East-Thuringia, Gera
            1978-1991, Ministerpräsident (Governor) of Baden-Württemberg
            Dr. Joachim Theye
            Attorney and Notary, Bremen
            Fernand Wagner
            Chief Executive Officer, Arbed SA, Luxemburg
            Max A. Warburg
            Owner, M. M. Warburg & Co., Hamburg
            Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hans-Jürgen Warnecke
            President, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Munich
            Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sigmar Wittig
            Rector, University of Karlsruhe
            Dr. Dietrich Zeyfang
            1977-1998, Director, Daimler Benz AG, Bremen
            1998-1999, Member of the IUB Planning Committee
            The famous port city, which had launched so many ships over the centuries, had just launched a university, but much hard work remained to be done.
            While many observers in Germany were surprised by the boldness and novelty of IUB’s founding, based so explicitly on the model of an American private university, many expressed even greater surprise that such a proposal had arisen in Bremen of all places, with its heritage of political radicalism and memories of the University of Bremen having been, in the early years after its creation in 1971, a supposed hotbed of “red” ideas. Actually, the university had changed greatly in intervening years, and particularly under the leadership of Rektor Timm had developed widely respected programs in science and engineering. But the leaders of Bremen made the case that Bremen was the only place in Germany where such an innovative international experiment in higher education could occur. The city has had a strong tradition of internationalism since its membership beginning in the fourteenth century with the famous Hanseatic League. Trade around the world had maintained this cosmopolitan outlook. Relations with the United States, long positive, had strengthened in the years immediately after World War II when Bremen – in the British-controlled sector of Germany – had been carved out as an American enclave through which U.S. troops and supplies had entered Germany. Even Elvis Presley had come through on his tour of duty! In fact, during those immediate postwar years, beginning in 1947, there had been active discussion by Bremen officials of establishing an innovative international private university to be located at the Roland-Kaserne site; this plan was scuttled when U.S officials decided instead to use the base for temporary housing of displaced persons. Shortly thereafter, the new Free University was established in Berlin, and the Bremen project languished, died, and was then forgotten. No one seems to have remembered this turn of events in the months leading up to the invitation tendered the Rice delegation in November 1997 – it has subsequently been recalled – but this once-forgotten proposal of fifty years before suggests Bremen’s long commitment to internationalism and its openness to new ideas.
            Bremen had other unique advantages. As the smallest state within the Federal Republic of Germany, there were no other large cities to compete with Bremen for public support of such a university, and, similarly, there was only one state university. In other states, the various public universities would have argued over which one would reap the largest advantages, or be hurt the most in competition for funds. Rektor Timm of the University of Bremen strongly supported the idea because he could envision the presence of an innovative private university, able to try out new ideas, actually strengthening the possibility for positive reform in his own university. Certainly, he knew that in the United States strong private universities had helped make nearby public universities better institutions. As Dr. Lüst put it in an address at the University of Cologne on May 19, 1999, Bremen could function like a lighthouse pointing the way toward the kind of healthy competition that would improve all universities. To facilitate this positive relationship, IUB and the University of Bremen signed, on December 14, 1999, a wide-ranging agreement of cooperation, making the existing state university a partner of IUB in a fashion similar to Rice University. The full implications of this local partnership would be worked out in the years come, but certainly the intention was that the cooperation would be beneficial to both Bremen universities.
            Another advantage Bremen’s size offered was that all the political and economic leaders knew one another and could walk to one another’s office in a matter of minutes. The City Hall (Rathaus), the House of Parliament (Haus der Bürgerschaft) where the hundred parliamentary representatives deliberated, and the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce, the ‘Schütting,’ all faced the same public square. One could meet with a Senator, then walk to another Senator’s office, and then visit the Mayor, and from there go to the offices of the leading business and industrial leaders, all within minutes. This intimacy of scale also led to more personable relationships than in other states, with the result that decisions could be reached far more quickly and amiably than elsewhere. All observers realized that bipartisan support for IUB was both unique and essential, and everyone understood how important it was that a leader of the Christian Democrats like Senator Hattig supported the proposal that had originated with and was pushed by prominent members of the Social Democrats like Senator Kahrs and Mayor Scherf. Such political cooperation was almost unimaginable elsewhere in Germany.
            Many commentators outside Bremen questioned whether private contributions could be raised sufficient to support a private university once the one-time public contribution of 230 million DM was exhausted. After all, there is not even a word that is the exact equivalence of “philanthropy” in the German language and no national habit of private giving comparable to that in the United States. By contrast, Bremen had a long history of philanthropic endeavour. The Schaffermahl itself was the oldest charity function in Germany. Another charity event, celebrated annually since 1829, was the Eiswette. Originally, wealthy gentlemen took odds on the date at which a thin tailor’s boy could walk across the frozen Weser river. Today the river seldom freezes over, so the “ice bet” is determined by casting lots, but the funds raised by the wealthy participants have always been devoted to a society that exists to rescue mariners. The city’s most distinguished art museum, the Kunsthalle – whose building was constructed in 1847-1849 and rebuilt in 1900 – was founded by a private art society, the Bremer Kunstverein, organized in 1823 to collect works of art. Yet another example of the city’s philanthropy – even if the word doesn’t exist – is the beautiful Bürgerpark located in the northeast section of the city. Since its establishment in 1877, the park with its cafés, lakes, playgrounds, walking paths, and famous rhododendron gardens has been supported solely by contributions from private citizens.
            Bremen, with its small size allowing close and quick interaction among its leaders, with its long tradition of internationalist thinking, with its heritage of charitable activities, with the absence of negative rivalry between cities and between cities and public universities in bitter competition for funds, with bipartisan support for a project that promised to assist the region’s economy and possibly offer a model for reforming other universities as well – Bremen is the only place in Germany where as bold an initiative as IUB could have emerged. The central responsibility after its official creation on February 11, 1999, was to take steps to ensure that IUB’s high promise would be fulfilled.
             No one better understood the magnitude of the task before them than the President, planning staff, and Board of Governors of IUB. After a momentary pause to celebrate the historical significance of the ceremony on February li- the creation of the first broadly conceived private research university in Germany, if not all of Continental Europe – IUB’s leaders began working together to flesh out the curriculum, renovate the military buildings for university functions, plan everything from the library to admission procedures to international publicity, develop a plan for recruiting and admitting talented students. But of primary importance was selection of the two Deans, one for science and engineering, the other for humanities and social sciences; for these Deans, in turn, would play the leading role in selecting and hiring the initial faculty and determine the academic policies and curriculum of the university. Yet even before the searches for Deans began, President Schaumann moved to secure public funding in a way that would maximize the university’s freedom of action.
             Nothing better indicated the administrative and political skills of President Schaumann, and the respect that existed for him and IUB’s Board of Governors among the Senators who constituted the Parliament of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, than the negotiations over how the new university was to receive the 230 million DM set aside for it. Working closely with Mr. Kottgen, President Schaumann succeeded in convincing the state to give the funds essentially in a lump sum, with no strings attached other than the pledge that IUB would meet certain precisely stated goals over a five-year period – a schedule was developed that prescribed a certain number of students, faculty, and funds raised from private sources at the end of each year. (Within five years the goals called for 1,200 students and 100 total faculties.)
             The state would not insist upon authorizing every expenditure of money and would not attempt to micromanage the process. The contract – its precise language drafted by Rosemarie Goerke – between the city and IUB was signed on May 19, 1999. President Schaumann and his associates were trusted with the responsibility of building a university, free of political interference. This allowed IUB administrators to make decisions solely on the merits of the case. Such freedom to act was unprecedented, and such budgetary independence, again, showed the respect state officials had for the leadership of IUB.
             Senator Kahrs and other proponents of IUB also recognized that the more leaders in the Bremen community knew about Rice the more supportive they would be of IUB. Consequently, in late February 1999, a group of about two dozen Bremen politicians, business leaders, and members of the press came to Houston. Greg Marshall, Director of University Relations at Rice coordinated the visit, as he had earlier ones, making sure the Bremen delegation saw NASA Rice and met with a variety of spokesmen, including Mayor Lee Brown. In late July and early August 1999, Mayor Scherf made his first trip to Rice, including on Sunday, August 1, a lengthy historical and architectural tour of the Rice campus – in his own words. Mayor Scherf “loved” the campus for its beauty and serenity so conducive to learning – a reception and dinner at President Gillis’s house, followed by a special organ concert at the university’s music school. That morning, the indefatigable Mayor had worshiped at Christ the King Lutheran Church, adjacent to the Rice campus. In response to the many German immigrants who had settled in Texas in the nineteenth century, and the significant German community in present-day Houston, this church offers regular German-language services and three of its ministers are fluent in German. It also sponsors a Melanchthon Institute, which occasionally collaborates with the Melanchthon Haus in Bretten, Germany, to facilitate study of Reformation topics. The ties between Houston and Germany are surprisingly strong, and Houston even has a sister-city relationship with Leipzig. Mayor Scherf left Houston even more convinced that the Bremen-Rice partnership was the right thing to do. He considered its founding the most important achievement of his tenure in office.
             With the finances in good shape, and with public support of IUB growing stronger by the week, President Schaumann and his advisers – and Professor Wells, Dr. Hochstettler (who began full-time employment at IUB in August 1999), and Dr. Ziegler-Jons continued their very influential roles in planning the future of the university – turned to the task of selecting the Deans. It was deeded to have a single search committee for both the Dean of Science and Engineering and the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences because they wanted to insure at the Deans chosen could communicate effectively across disciplines. An extremely distinguished search committee was appointed, chaired by Professor Wolfgang Frühwald, recently President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and Professor or Modem German literature at the University of Munich. The committee consisted of leading scholars, industrialists, and scientists from around the world. Notices for the deanships were placed in all the relevant publications, and out of the more the one hundred completed applications, a subcommittee chose a short list of twenty-five extremely well qualified candidates. The committee insisted that every serious candidate had to have both US, and German experience, and of course they had to be fluent in both English and German.
             Academic searches always begin with a combination of trepidation and optimism, and the result is seldom predictable. Certainly, outside observers might have had some scepticism about the ability of a new university that was still little more than an idea to attract high-quality candidates. Yet again, the founding concept of IUB was so compelling that out of the deep pool of candidates, two superlative academic leaders emerged. Subsequently, the President and Board of Governors chose Professor Dr. Gerhard Haerendel as Vice President and Dean of Engineering and Sciences (appointed September 2000) and Professor Dr. Max Kaase as Vice President and Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences (appointed October 2000). Haerendel, an internationally known astrophysicist, was Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and had held visiting positions at Caltech, the University of Iowa, and the University of California at Berkeley. Kaase, a pioneering scholar in political sociology and founding Director of the Academic Social Science Research Institute in Mannheim, had held a research appointment at the University of Michigan. Both scholars had a distinguished list of memberships in learned societies, and had held leadership positions in various associations and consortia of their disciplines. Two more skilled, experienced, or reputable Deans could hardly be imagined, and both gladly accepted the challenge of directing their respective academic programs at IUB for the intellectual challenge it represented and because they saw it as an opportunity to develop a significant pilot program that could have a salutary effect on the German university world.
             These choices of the two Deans were critically important decisions because they would have primary responsibility for hiring the first faculty and shaping the curriculum. Professor Kathleen Shive Matthews and Professor C. Sidney Burrus, the current Deans of the School of Natural Sciences and the School of Engineering at Rice University, came to IUB in May 2000 to consult with university leaders on curricular planning for the new institution. It was assumed, early on, that each of the two major divisions of IUB would, at least in the beginning, have a limited number of departments. The School of Engineering and Science would offer courses in four broad fields: biological sciences and engineering, chemical sciences and engineering, geological and physical sciences and engineering, and mathematical and computer sciences and engineering. Within these general areas, students could major in biochemistry and cell biology, bioinformatics, biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, computational science, earth and planetary sciences (with an astronomy component), electrical engineering and computer science, mathematics, and physics. The School of Humanities and Social Sciences would offer majors in cognitive psychology, fine arts and literature, history, and integrated social sciences (which includes international affairs, economics, mass communications, political science, and sociology) All these programs would have strong comparative and interdisciplinary dimensions Because the German government mandates that students be able to earn the B.A. degree – necessary if students are to be compatible with the academic programs of the non-German world – in three years, students will take a heavy load averaging six or seven courses per semester. In order to accommodate this load, classes will be offered six days a week. The curriculum is designed to provide students both necessary depth in their major fields of study and sufficient breadth to ensure flexibility and intellectual growth over a lifetime of learning. The innovative curriculum requires students to take a specific number of courses in their major field, courses in their school outside their major field, courses in the other school, and six courses from a limited number of carefully designed, cross-school interdisciplinary offerings that are team-taught. And whatever their major, students will be expected to take an international internship, usually offered away from the IUB campus. The courses and requirements for graduate studies (the M.A. and Ph.D. programs) would be worked out during the first academic year.
             Once the IUB Deans, academic planners, and consultants had developed a matrix of undergraduate majors and necessary courses, they then turned to the task of hiring faculty. It was determined that a minimum of twenty-seven faculty (seventeen in science/engineering, ten in humanities/social sciences) would be required the first year. Already, the decision had been made that, while the department chairpersons would be full professors, the other faculty would be a mix of ranks, and all would have three-to-five-year renewable contracts (but no tenure), with the exception of some annually appointed lecturers. All faculties would be expected to be fluent in English because IUB planners had decided, at the beginning of the process, that English would be the language of instruction. Students were expected to come from Germany (at most, 50 percent) and throughout the world. Because English has become the contemporary universal language as Latin was in the middle Ages, only if instruction were in English could IUB be a truly international university.
             As with the Dean searches, no one could be certain in advance if quality acuity would apply for non-tenured positions at what, at the moment, was essentially a virtual university. Exceptionally distinguished search advisory committees were drawn up for both schools, and advertisements were placed listing the positions being sought – in appropriate venues around the world. The bulk of the interviews would be conducted in Bremen, though, for convenience, some would be held at Rice and at the University of California at Berkeley. Faculty from the University of Bremen also participated, very helpfully, in the interviewing process in Bremen. Everyone waited nervously when the ads first appeared in December 2000 – what would be the response? It turned out there was no need to be apprehensive. An astounding 1,600 candidates applied, approximately 850 for the science/engineering positions and 750 for the humanities/social sciences positions. Even more gratifying than the numbers, was the quality of the applicants. Most were young, extremely well trained, and eager to be academic pioneers at a completely new kind of German university.
             This last point played a larger role in the faculty search than IUB planners had anticipated. It had been expected that the faculty would be very international in origin, but instead, almost half the total applicants were of German nationality and the overwhelming majority of the resultant hires were German. Clearly, hundreds of wonderfully talented German scholars who had either trained abroad or had teaching/research appointments in the United States or the United Kingdom desired to return to Germany but not to a traditional state university. IUB offered them the opportunity both to come home and to teach in an institution modeled substantially on the American university system. Even tenured full professors (C-4 professors) at existing German universities applied, and more than a half dozen were ultimately employed – giving up tenure, life- time appointments, and all the multiple perquisites of a German professorship (or taking long-term leaves from their former positions), to come to the infant university. It quickly became evident that the real attraction – beyond the intellectual challenge of creating new departments and devising innovative curricula – was the opportunity to do something that might, by example, lead to further reform in the German university system. IUB was a powerful idea that attracted the best and the brightest back to Germany and to an exciting academic experiment of enormous promise. More than salary, more than “career move,” it was the hope of becoming a catalyst for change within German higher education that made possible the creation of a remarkably talented new faculty for International University Bremen. The university would open with a teaching staff of approximately thirty, with additional faculty already hired to begin service the following academic year. The new faculty included Dr. Ronny Wells, who was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Vice President for External Affairs in May 2001, thereby cementing his long-time relationship with IUB.
             A university, of course, must have students as well as faculty, and IUB would be different from the public universities because it would carefully select its students, who would then have to pay tuition. These were novel concepts to most German students, and part of the mission of IUB was to convince prospective students that the learning environment and cultural experience of a residential college, with close interaction between students and faculty, would be so superior to that’ normally encountered in the free – but large and impersonal – public universities that students would see that the benefits easily outweighed the additional costs. Moreover, like Rice University, IUB would admit students on a-need blind” basis (that is, irrespective of their ability to pay) and offer sufficient scholarship funds to ensure that every student admitted would be able to afford to attend. IUB hired Dr. Hans C. Giesecke to handle student affairs, everything from publicizing the advantages of studying at IUB, developing the admission process, to planning actual residential life. Giesecke, a native of Tennessee but son of German parents, was fluent in German and had substantial expertise in administering independent colleges. With the assistance of other IUB staff members, he developed an attractive “view book” that included photographs, striking graphics, and solid information about the new university, and it invited prospective students to “Come and Be IUB’s First Class.” Dr. Giesecke and his associate, Meredith Weems, visited more than 150 high schools across Europe and around the world, including “college fairs” in such cities as Paris, London, Berlin, Geneva, Stockholm, and Istanbul. IUB officials also purchased from the student search service of the College Board, a list of over 2,600 names of students (living outside the United States and Canada) who scored above 1,100 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The goal was to begin classes in the fall of 2001 with approximately one hundred bright, adventurous students with a pioneering spirit. Students were clearly attracted by the projected internationalism of IUB, by the prospect of an interdisciplinary curriculum, by the promise of close faculty-student interaction, and by the very newness of the university. As it turned out, 131 students actually matriculated, representing forty-two different nations, with only about one-quarter coming from Germany. The students’ median combined SAT score was 1250 (verbal, 575; math, 660), apparently the highest for any college outside the United States. More than 80 percent of the matriculating students received some form of financial aid. A special fund- raising effort produced full tuition scholarships for thirty-one students, and plans underway will triple the number of such scholarships available in the near future. All in all, it was a remarkable first class of diverse, academically talented students ready to begin a university.
             In the mist of the international search for faculty and local concerns of all also attracted much interest and activity. The camp had to be readied for students and for faculty – for instruction, for research residential life. Architect Jürgen Böge, of the firm Böge + Linder-Böge, developed a master plan for the campus, which included removing several structures that did not match the general architecture of the campus and renovating class rooms, offices, and general space for all the many needs of an educational institute. (Instructional laboratories would not be finished in time for the first year, so it was anticipated that some IUB students would have lab classes taught by IUB faculty but on the University of Bremen campus – a practical example of partnership at work.) The new look was far more modern, more colorful, more cheerful than in the previous military posture. Throughout the spring and summer of 2001, the campus hummed with construction. Nothing more suggested the character of the emerging university than the transformation of three barracks into three wings of a residential college, the trio tied together at the south end with a student dining and common area and a master’s residence. Emphatically, IUB would be a campus, residential experience for students, and the residential college system, drawing closely on the Rice model (where they are not academic units as are the colleges at Cambridge and Oxford Universities), would be a hallmark of that environment. Earlier, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation had made a major grant to IUB, making possible the creation of Alfried Krupp College (expected to open early in 2002), the first of eventually three residential colleges that will make student life at IUB so different from the impersonalism often characteristic of German universities.The Campus Center building, which would ultimately contain, among other things, the library (Information Resource Center), was planned to undergo major renovation and new construction the following year, with the library eventually to hold far more printed volumes and reference materials than initially contemplated – in truth, it is not yet possible to have a fully digital library anywhere and probably never will be.
             Landscape architect Professor Dr. Hinnerk Wehberg of WES & Partner also employed his skills to transform the military appearance of the campus. While the wooded site with more-or less-uniform red brick buildings had impressed the initial American visitors as campus-like, Dr. Wehberg wanted to break up the rigidity of the visual lines and soften the military edges of the campus. Some trees in overgrown areas were eliminated, the flat terrain was variegated by sensuous, curving berms of earth, and, most dramatically, the raised parade ground in the heart of the current campus was lowered to the elevation of the rest of the campus except that the corners soared upward in gracefully contoured hills. One road that would have cut through the heart of the campus was removed, poplar trees were planted at advantageous locations (for example, around one of the playing fields), attractive stone pathways were laid across the land that matched the paving stones at the entrance points of buildings, and presto! A military base had become a beautiful seat of higher learning. At times, during the year, the feverish construction activity had seemed almost bewildering, but capably overseen by Andrea R. Noske, the whole effort paid off by opening date.
             Röttgen, traveled to Cologne to provide formal oral and written answers. This mostly satisfied the WR officials, with relatively minor additional questions yet to be answered later in the year concerning such issues as availability of faculty and students. President Schaumann and the Deans returned to Cologne in August, made a second and convincing report, and, to no one’s surprise, official approval by the Wissenschaftsrat came on November 19, 2001, when the WR accredited IUB as a private university and recommended initial inclusion in the University Register of the University Construction Act (Hochschulbauförderungs-gesetz).
             As the IUB staff made preparations, in the summer of 2001, for the opening of classes that fall, the rapid pace of development seemed to change the campus daily. Yet, still the sense of teamwork and the camaraderie among the staff – who on the whole are remarkably young, energetic, competent, and committed to the ideal that IUB represents – survived, and the staff members convey an infectious excitement to the visitor. Proficient Kirsten Mussel, IUB’s fourth original employee, compared the enthusiasm and almost incredible devotion of the staff to the legendary founders of a start-up corporation, who pour themselves into the enterprise. At the weekly staff meetings, chaired by President Schaumann and with everyone sitting in a large circle, ideas and updates are shared in an atmosphere of good humor and optimism. Two subtle changes occurred over the past year, however. In mid-2000, with no faculty or students and practically no facilities renovation underway, there was still an unstated psychological dependence on Rice – maybe IUB would even have to borrow faculty from Rice for the first year. But with the successes of the past twelve months, IUB noticeably grew more confident, less dependent upon Rice, and increasingly sure of its own identity, style, and purpose. Rice officials had expected this evolution and applauded the result. The other subtle change had to do with the primary purpose of IUB. At the very beginning, IUB was promoted, first, as an economic benefit to job-hungry Bremen-Nord and, second, as a possible signpost for reform of the German university system. But as the idea matured into reality, the faculty and even government-business-academic leaders in the larger community came primarily to see IUB’s promise as a catalyst (or an enzyme, as one professor put it) for fundamental change in the nation’s universities. That hope had been present to a degree from the very beginning, but it had clearly blossomed as opening day drew nearer. In a way, this raised the stakes for IUB’s future, but it also communicated the perceived importance of the creation of a new private, autonomous, international, and residential university in the historic Free Hanseatic City of Bremen
             Planning the opening celebration for such a momentous event stretched the imagination and threatened to exhaust the energy of everyone involved. Beate Wolff, Director of Media and Public Relations for IUB, did much of the planning and directed the grand occasion, and even Greg Marshall from Rice came over for three weeks to assist Ms. Wolff and her able staff with the myriad logistic details. There were academic precedents from which to draw: IUB’s partner private institution, Rice University, had opened for instruction on September 23, 1912. and three weeks later formally celebrated the opening with dinners, concerts, and an elaborate series of addresses by scholars from around the world – including Nobel-laureate Professor Wilhelm Ostwald from the University of Leipzig – intended not simply to celebrate the founding of a new university, but, more importantly, to announce to the world the lofty academic ambitions of this infant seat of learning. IUB announced its opening in similar fashion on September 20, 2001, classes having begun on September 3. (The night before the formal opening, Mayor Scherf hosted an elaborate dinner in the Senate Chamber of the Rathaus for the faculty, administrators, Board of Governors, students of IUB, select business and government leaders, and participants in the opening ceremony scheduled for the next day.)
             Months before, elaborate invitations had been sent out to scholars, government and business leaders, and prominent citizens in Germany, throughout Europe, and the world. The campus was green, scrubbed, and glistening with rain drops on the morning of September 20 as the crowd of more than 1,400 visitors approached the three large temporary structures erected for the purpose of the opening ceremonies: an entrance tent in the middle, on the right a huge auditorium tent with stage and ample seating, and, on the left side of the entrance, an open tent for the subsequent reception/lunch. Those in attendance understood that the founding of this innovative university held much promise for Bremen, for Europe, and for the world of learning. The low overhanging clouds and the light rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of the people quickly filling the auditorium tent, and the faces of the IUB students glowed with anticipation as they mingled among the accumulating crowd in the entrance tent. As the audience flowed into the auditorium tent, the NDR-Bigband played an eclectic blend of jazz music. Promptly at 11:00 a.m. the formal opening ceremony began with a documentary film on the “Development of the IUB Campus,” vividly portraying the transformation from military base to a park-like academic institution. IUB President Fritz Schaumann then officially greeted the visitors and welcomed them to the occasion. Master of Ceremonies Dr. Theo Sommer, Editor-at-Large of
Die Zeit, briefly introduced the program, followed by another skilfully prepared video documentary on student Tuhina Chugh, originally from India but now living in Hamburg, representative of the internationalism of the student body.
             The next portion of the fast-paced ceremony, entitled ‘”Talk in the Tent I,” consisted of a conversation between Dr. Sommer and, in order. Dr. Malcolm Gillis, President of Rice University, and two IUB students, the just-profiled Tuhina Chugh and Paul Avenati, born in Rome with joint U.S. and Italian citizenship. The overall topic of the discussion was “the obligations of excellence.” with the joint responsibilities of both faculty/administration and students suggested. The NDR-Bigband provided another spritely musical interlude as a transition to the next section of the program, “”Talk in the Tent II.” Again, Dr. Sommer served as moderator and entered into conversation with Mayor Henning Scherf, Senator Josef Hattig, and Rector Prof. Dr. h. c. Jürgen Timm from the neighboring University of Bremen. The unifying theme of their discussion was Bremen’s investment in the future of education as a prelude to economic development – hence, the conclusion “We have the key”
             Former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Helmut Schmidt – who, ironically, almost seven decades before had served as a young military recruit in the antiaircraft base that had originally been what had just become IUB – presented the keynote address. Speaking so soon after the shocking events in the United States on September 11, 2001, Schmidt eloquently made the point that “now more than ever, we need universities such as IUB” (“Gerade jetzt brauchen wir Hochschulen wie die IUB”) because an international approach to education and mutual understanding was necessary for the progress of humanity. Schmidt stated that the leading position of the United States in pure and applied research and hence its leadership role in globalization was a consequence of its pluralistic system of higher education that included private, elite universities. Schmidt criticized the existing German reliance solely on state-supported universities and said that Germany also needed private, merit-based, and international universities as well. For that reason, he praised IUB’s founding as “the right answer to the challenges of globalization.”
             At that moment in the proceedings the NDR-Bigband – almost like a Greek chorus – again provided a jazzy transition to a “scientific dialogue” on the “freedom of research versus ethical boundaries of science,” with Dr. Neal Lane – University Professor at Rice University and formerly the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology and Director of the National Science Foundation – offering an American perspective, and Dr. Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker- President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – offering the German perspective. Following these thoughtful remarks, another video documentary on “the students’ first days on campus” offered a light, humorous portrayal of the opening of the university from the very personal view of students moving onto campus, meeting fellow students, and getting settled into their new academic home. Then the opening ceremony came smoothly and elegantly to a conclusion with closing remarks by Dr. Reimar Lust, who had played such an indispensable role in the development of International University Bremen, characterizing the opening of IUB as “a dream fulfilled.” The pounding of the rain on the roof of the tent could not begin to muffle the sense of excitement and promise exhibited on the stage and among the audience this day: clearly, a significant achievement in the educational structure of Germany had been made, and everyone present seemed to exult in the magic of this new beginning.
             The attendees filed out of the auditorium, through the entrance tent where student guides offered to take guests on tours of the campus – thoughtfully. lUB embossed umbrellas were available – and others entered the tent on the opposite side of the entrance way to partake of a delightfully delicious meal served buffet-style from a number of stations. The food, meticulously prepared by the Park Hotel Bremen, mirrored the internationalism of the new university. There were selections of Asian, American, African, and European cuisines, along with desserts from around the world. And. of course there was wine, Apfelsaft, coffee, and tea. People mingled about the ample tent, tasting various delicacies and talking with visiting dignitaries, IUB faculty and students, and guests from across the globe. Many of IUB’s students were dressed in their native clothes, adding a zesty dash of internationalism to the opening festivities. After food and drink, many of those who had chosen first to dine now accompanied student guides on tours of the campus, and by then, almost miraculously, the sun had emerged and bathed the still-wet lawns and buildings with shimmering light. All seemed as fresh and vital as a rose garden after a spring shower. The day’s celebration concluded with glorious music that evening at Die Glocke, Bremen’s famous art deco concert hall. The Deutsche Kammer-Philharmonie Bremen presented music by Anthony K. Brandt, a composer-in-residence at Rice University, Leonard Bernstein, and Ludwig van Beethoven. The day had been an intellectual, gastronomic, and musical feast for every participant, and the buzz of conversation as the members of the audience finally left to go their separate ways testified to what a special day, indeed, September 20, 2001, had been.

             In 1912, Rice University had opened with an academic celebration at which eminent scholars from around the world presented papers – a promise of the scholarship predicted for the new university. In similar fashion, International University Bremen staked out its ambitions for research and scholarship as well as teaching, with a significant International Symposium on Friday, September 21, in what had once been the movie auditorium for soldiers. Dr. Raymond (Ronny) 0. Wells, Jr., Professor of Mathematics and Vice President for External Affairs at IUB, welcomed guests, and then Board Chairman Reimar Lust introduced toe theme and purpose of the symposium. IUB’s two academic Deans. Dr. Gerhard Haerendel and Dr. Max Kaase, introduced the luminous speakers in order of their presentations. The scope and variety of the lectures exemplified the interdisciplinary promise of International University Bremen.3 Dr. Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, Director of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute of Developmental Biology, and a Nobel-laureate in medicine, spoke on the topic “Of Genes and Embryos: Dr. Jonathan I. Lunine. Professor of Planetary Sciences and Chair of the Theoretical Astrophysics Program at the University of Arizona moved from the microscopic world of the first lecture to discuss “In Search of Life and Life’s Origin Elsewhere in the Solar System” The third planned speaker, Michael Hammond, Dean of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Elma Schneider Professor of Music, and Faculty Fellow in the Center for Neuroscience, was unable to attend for momentary reasons of health and because he had just been appointed by President George W. Bush to become head of the National Endowment for the Arts. Dean Hammond had been scheduled to present a lecture entitled “Visioning and Re-visioning: Ideas of Order in Art and Science”
             In Hammond’s absence, the program proceeded directly to the lecture by Dr. Helga Nowotny, Chair of Philosophy and Social Studies of Science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology [ETH], Zurich, and Professor of Philsophy and Social Studies and Director of the Collegium Helveticum (at the ETH]. Indicative of the interdisciplinary focus of IUB, she spoke on “Coping with Complexity: On Emergent Interfaces Between the Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences” After an informal lunch at the student canteen, the International Symposium continued. Dr. Theodore J. Lowi. John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University, discussed “Internationalization, Territory, and Three Identities: Status, Contract, and Citizenship/’ exploring the mechanisms by which societies cope with change. The symposium concluded with a mind- bending lecture entitled “Road to Reality: The Mathematics and Physics of the Universe.” presented with characteristic vim by Sir Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford, one of the original theorizers of the concept of black holes and discoverer of twistor geometry. With that performance, the symposium had come to an end, but clearly the intellect and learning displayed there suggested the limitless possibilities of the new university in Bremen. The old city with its heritage of international trade will henceforth increasingly export intellectual products as part of the global commerce in ideas.
             In four short years, from 1997 to 2001, the International University Bremen had evolved from initial curious speculation, to a brief proposal, to increasingly elaborate plans, and finally to vibrant reality. Teaching and research thrived, and the lively students busied themselves not only with learning but with organizing clubs for everything from classical dance, neuroscience, and photography to a student newspaper (Crossroads) and a soccer learn. For those involved in every aspect of the process. IUB seemed an idea, whose time had come, and they took great and justifiable pride in what had been accomplished. Refuting some initial worries, the evidence was in that the requisite faculty and students of highest quality would clearly come to the new university, eager to be academic pioneers. But would the necessary funding for substantial university development eventually materialize? No one could foresee what the future held, but the final months of the year gave grounds for great optimism on this aspect, as well. At the conclusion of the opening ceremonies on September 21, Metall Unterweser gave a major gift, the interest from which will provide approximately 500.000 DM annually to support normal university operations, including faculty salaries, library purchases, student stipends, and administrative costs. About a month later, a very significant gift of 10 million Swiss Franks from the Jacobs Foundation established at IUB the Jacobs Center of Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development. Soon thereafter, the Bremen Central Branch of the Commerzbank announced funding for five years of a sponsored professorship, the Commerzbank Chair of Information Management. At the very end of the year, the Bremer Landesbank contributed an additional 1.000,000 DM to a foundation that will be a major benefactor of IUB, providing the university more than 100.000 Euro annually for current operations. In the planning period before the opening of the university, the single largest concern about the eventual success of the venture had to do with funding: in a nation where American-style philanthropy was almost unknown, would it be possible to raise the kind of funds necessary to establish a private university of real distinction? Despite all the planning and all the good will of academic, government, and business leaders, the idea of creating an independent, private, Research University in Germany was a bold, even daring undertaking. The generous monetary gifts of the last few months of 2001 indicate that, again, Bremen had ventured and won. International University Bremen bodes well to accomplish what its fondest supporters had hoped. To paraphrase the words of Board Chairman Reimar Lüst, it was indeed a dream being fulfilled.

The author expresses his gratitude to the administrative offices at International University Bremen and Rice University for making available documents and correspondence essential for the completion of this history. He also thanks the following persons who graciously agreed to be interviewed, and without whose comments the history could not have been written: Anke-Maria Allner, Wolfgang Altenburg, David Auston, C. Sidney Burrus. Reinhard Egge, Doris Fedler, Matthias Fonger, Andrea Gavriel. Hans C Giesecke, Malcolm S. Gülis, Rosemarie Goerke. Gerd Gossler. Gerhard Haerendel, Freia Hardt, Peter Haßkamp. Josef Hattig, Claus Hilgetag, Bernd Hockemeyer, Thomas Hochstettier, Bringfriede Kahrs, Max Kaase. James L. Kinsey, Rainer Köngen, Thomas W Leonhardt, Reimar Lust, Kathleen Shive Matthews, Kirsten Mussei. Andrea R. Noske, Hartmut Perschau, Heinz-Otto Peitgen, Fritz Schaumann. Hermann H. Schaedla. Brita Schemmann. Henning Scherf, Jürgen Timm, Raymond 0. (Ronny) Wells, Beate Wolff, Isabel Wünsche. Dietrich Zeyfang, and Alexander Ziegler-Jöns.

[1] Roland was the legendary paladin and nephew of Charlemagne who gave his life on behalf of the Christian faith and his Frankish nation in a great battle against the Saracens at Roncesvalles (in Spain) in 778 A.D.

[2] Not to be confused with Prof. Jürgen Timm, Rektor of the University of Bremen.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top