by Anja Kürbis


On January 16, 1992, Ilmenau professor Dagmar Schipanski was appointed to the Wissenschaftsrat. The appointment was made on a joint proposal involving, among others, the DFG and the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz. For the Technische Hochschule Ilmenau this was an important milestone on its way to becoming a university.

Doz. Dr. Dagmar Schipanski with Prof. Eberhart Köhler at the PHYTEB section (Source: UAI, Negative 87-8501).

Dagmar Schipanski

At that time, the professor of solid-state electronics was no unknown to science policy. As early as 1991, she was appointed to Brussels as a reviewer for scientific programs. And as Dean of a faculty she had also gained high recognition with the merger of several sections into the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, the restructuring of the institutes, the conception of new courses of study and the development of study regulations. She approached the delicate issue of personnel transformation with empathy, but also the firm will for a new beginning. (source: IBH 34, 1991, 15, p. 2)


Evaluation by the Wissenschaftsrat

In this function, she accompanied the on-site evaluation of the Technische Hochschule Ilmenau by the Science Council on April 16, 1991. The Wissenschaftsrat, a political advisory body at the federal level, had been commissioned by § 38 of the Einigungsvertrag of 1990 with the evaluation of public scientific institutions until December 31, 1991. The starting point for this activity was, among other things, the assumption that the relationship between research and teaching in the GDR had been unbalanced, since research had mainly taken place outside the universities. (source: Entschließung des 165. Plenums der HRK on November 4, 1991)

In the recommendations of the Wissenschaftsrat on the engineering sciences of the new federal states of July 5, 1991, the "supraregional importance" of the TH Ilmenau was emphasized. However, and this applied to all engineering sciences in Thuringia (Jena, Weimar, Ilmenau), the "zu enge Spezialisierung der Ingenieurfächer ... im Interesse der Absolventen rasch überwunden werden." In the medium-term perspective, the Science Council advised Technische Hochschule Ilmenau to develop into a smaller TH with the profile of electrical engineering, (technical) informatics, automation technology and mechanical engineering (precision engineering) compared to the TU Dresden and the technical universities of the old federal states. According to the university council, a too rapid expansion to the 6000 study places planned by the state and the university is not recommendable, since the scientific basis for this is lacking. (source:  Empfehlungen zu den Ingenieurwissenschaften an den Universitäten und Technischen Hochschulen der neuen Länder vom 5. Juli 1991, p. 109)


A little over a year later, when Dagmar Schipanski was already a member of the Wissenschaftsrat, the Wissenschaftsrat again took a position on Technische Hochschule Ilmenau:

„Die Technische Hochschule Ilmenau, die bisher ganz überwiegend auf die Elektrotechnik ausgerichtet war, soll mittel- und längerfristig zur Technischen Universität des Landes ausgebaut und zunächst um die Fächer Informatik, Maschinenbau und Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen ergänzt werden.“ (source: Stellungnahme zu den mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Fachbereichen an den Universitäten der neuen Länder vom 3. Juli 1992, p. 137)

Prof. Schipanski reports on the transformation of the GDR science system in a short video worth watching on the Youtube channel of the Science Council.

Prof. Dagmar Schipanski in 1995 (Source: UAI, negative 950419-16)

The first woman: Prof. Schipanski

For Prof. Schipanski, membership in the Wissenschaftsrat was the "starting point into politics" (source: 30 Jahre Deutsche Einheit, ed. by Universitätsgesellschaft Ilmenau, Ilmenau 2020, p. 199) Here she was able not only to introduce the interests of her university, but also to actively participate in the transformation of the East German science landscape. And she did so with success and a pioneering spirit. In 1995, she became the first woman to hold the rector's office at Technische Universität Ilmenau. In 1996, she was also the first woman to be elected Chairwoman of the Wissenschaftsrat, and on October 8, 1996, she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for her work in science policy.


In 2000, Dagmar Schipanski summed up her political program in the following words:

„Eine neue Politikgestaltung oder eine neuer Politikstil muss darin bestehen, dass Politik, Wirtschaft und Wissenschaft viel mehr miteinander in Diskussion kommen, dass sich Netzwerke herausbilden.“ (source: Frauen und Macht, in: Friedenspolitik und Friedensforschung. OSNABRÜCKER FRIEDENSGESPRÄCHE 2000, Osnabrücker Jahrbuch Frieden und Wissenschaft VIII/2001, p. 40)