DAS JAHR 1992 AUF DEM WEG ZUR UNIVERSITÄT - Am Vorabend des Jahres 1992


Author: Anja Kürbis

In 1992, the Technische Hochschule Ilmenau was in the midst of a fundamental transformation process. It involved nothing less than a structural and personnel reorganisation, the redesign of the research infrastructure and the renewal of the forms of study - and all this while the university was still in operation.


So what did the Technische Hochschule Ilmenau look like on the eve of 1992?

Investiture of Prof. Eberhart Köhler on 27 April 1990 (Source: Ilmenau University Archive, Pos_900427-2)


From 27 April 1990, for the first time since its foundation, the university was led by a democratically elected rector, Prof. Eberhart Köhler. He was assisted by the Prorector for Education, Prof. Friedhelm Noack, and the Prorector for Science, Prof. Wolfang Gens.

The university's policy was determined by the Academic Council: a committee with equal representation of university teachers, students, academic and non-academic staff. The University Senate was responsible for academic matters.

The Staff Council, the University Students' Council and the Equal Opportunities Officer were installed to represent the interests of the university.

In autumn 1990, the university gave itself its own constitution, which, as an expression of the new university autonomy, did not correspond to the applicable legal framework in all points.



The winter semester 1991/92 began with 5 faculties, 7 courses of study and 530 first-year students (in 1990/91, 674 students began their studies at the university). A total of 2507 students were enrolled. In addition to the old degree programmes, completely new degree programmes were open to them, such as Business Informatics. Others, such as Environmental Technology, were in the planning stage.

The faculties had replaced the sections that had existed for more than 20 years or were newly formed. The following faculties had already started their work:

  1.     Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (MN) with Dean Prof. Christoph Schnittler.
  2.     Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology (EI) with Dean Prof. Dagmar Schipanski
  3.     Faculty of Automatic Control and Computer Science (IA) with Dean Prof. Günter Henning
  4.     Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Precision Engineering (MF) with Dean Prof. Peter Wiesner

The Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences, headed by Dean Prof. Horst-Tilo Beyer, was already anchored in the Basic Regulations, but at the end of 1991 was still in the founding phase.

Foto: Reinhard Vogel
Counting of votes for the first staff council election on 12 October 1990 (Source: Ilmenau University Archives, Pos_901012/Photographer: Reinhard Vogel)


The personnel restructuring was the most difficult process, as the fate of human livelihoods was decided. Fears and uncertainties and the need for reliable information about the future of one's own job characterised these months.

As early as 1990, employees were given notice of dismissal for political reasons or reasons of need. Institutes and entire facilities, such as the Section for Marxism/Leninism or the Meiningen Plasma Technology Department, were dissolved. Checks on activity at the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit were to underpin these decisions.

One year later, the so-called "internal evaluation" began: Here, employees evaluated each other with regard to their personal and moral integrity.

These measures were flanked by the conception of personnel development plans. These showed the responsible Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst the staffing needs for the next few years.


In view of this situation, Rector Köhler addressed the staff of his university in November 1991 with the following words:

"Ich bitte Sie alle dringend, Lehre und Forschung mit Nachdruck zu betreiben. Inzwischen habe ich verspürt, daß die TH Ilmenau in Deutschland einen guten Namen hat und deshalb meine Auftritte im In- und Ausland großes Gewicht haben. Aber die Achtung, die man mir zollt, rührt weitgehend von den Lehr- und Forschungsleistungen des Hochschulpersonals her. Deshalb: Trotz bestehender Unsicherheiten und Unklarheiten - geben Sie Ihr Bestes für das Unternehmen Technische Hochschule Ilmenau. Ich werde auch weiterhin alles tun, damit wir schnell aus der Unsicherheit herauskommen." (Quelle: ihb 15/91, S. 3)

You can read the text here. (entire issue)

The transformation process from a Technische Hochschule in the GDR to an educational institution under federal German law took place not only under great political pressure, but above all under time pressure that did not allow alternative models to the federal German higher education system.

The hope of the university members that they would be able to shape their Ilmenau University of Technology themselves was soon to give way to disillusionment.

In this situation the year 1992 begins.