Mourning the Loss of Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Knut Borchardt

The University of Mannheim mourns the loss of Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Knut Borchardt who passed away on 5 February 2023 at the age of 93. From 1966 until 1967, Borchardt was President of the University of Mannheim.

In 1962, Borchardt accepted the newly established professorship of Economic History and Economics at the Wirtschaftshochschule Mannheim. A few years after his appointment, Borchardt took over the office of the President. Back then, the term of office was one year. During his term, the Wirtschaftshochschule received university status, and Borchardt proclaimed the institution’s renaming. In 1969, when the entire President’s Office stepped down due to the constitution dispute, the Ministry of Education appointed the former President Borchardt as temporary administrator (Amtsverweser) for a few weeks to manage presidential affairs. In the same year, Borchardt accepted a professorship in Munich, where he stayed until he retired as a professor emeritus in 1991.

In 1987, Borchardt received the Leibniz Prize and in 1989, he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse). In 1994, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Mannheim to honor his contributions to the Economic History of the 19th and 20th century.

Borchardt was the first German economist committed to the New Economic History, which originated in the US, and who worked on questions in the field of Economic History by using modern economic models and methods. In his appointment negotiations, Borchardt was able to achieve that the professorship was named “Economic History and Economics”. This shows that Borchardt saw Economic History as a complementary and integral part of Economics. This clear commitment was the foundation for long-term traditions. After Borchardt went to Munich in 1969, Economic History still was an integral part of Economics at the University of Mannheim. Researchers in this field were always in close contact with their colleagues at the Department of History, creating an early and solid basis for the degree program in Culture and Economy.