The Universitätstag 2023: Awards, Honors, and the Development of the University

President Thomas Puhl gives an overview of current successes and future developments. The alumni network of TU Berlin receives the Hans Raffée Alumni Networking Prize. The University Medal was awarded to Professor Thomas König and Michael Meckel (Ekkehard Foundation). Health psychologist Professor Jutta Mata gives speech.

On Tuesday, about 140 invited guests from science, economy, and society celebrated the Universitätstag of the University of Mannheim in the Aula of the Schloss. In his speech, Professor Thomas Puhl, President of the University of Mannheim thanked all teachers and researchers, staff members, students, and sponsors of the university for their extraordinary commitment and work. “International rankings show that we are still among the best ten percent of all higher education institutions worldwide”, Puhl said. During the past year, the researchers acquired third-party funding in the amount of approx. 26 million euros. This is one million more than in the previous year. According to Puhl, this showed that the funding institutions had a high level of trust in the University of Mannheim. “We are a top university, and we can be proud of what we achieved”, Puhl summarized.

Puhl mentioned that strengthening collaborative research and further promoting digitalization in teaching and the internationalization strategy were the university’s big objectives for the next few years: “Internationalization is the hallmark of our university, and all students should have the opportunity to study abroad”, says Puhl. The University of Mannheim will focus even more on equal opportunity.

At the event, Professor Jutta Mata, holder of the Chair of Health Psychology, gave a speech on health psychology. Based on the theory that the land of milk and honey people had been dreaming about for centuries has already become a reality, Mata explained the negative consequences of today’s abundance of food. About half of the people in Germany are overweight. Most people are exercising less than recommended, which has a negative impact on their quality of life and life expectancy. Health psychologists want to change health behaviors. Especially when it comes to eating, a promising approach is to focus the research not only on the individual but on the community in which people eat – often with their family or friends. In these communities, simple behavioral changes, for example, taking more time to eat family meals can lead to a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables with health-related relevance.

Awarding the Hans Raffée Alumni Networking Prize
This year, the Hans Raffée Alumni Networking Prize, which was created in memory of the Mannheim Professor Hans Raffée, who died in 2021, was awarded for the first time. At the Universitätstag, President Puhl and Professor Peter Frankenberg, chair of the Heinrich Vetter Foundation, which sponsors the prize together with ABSOLVENTUM, Freunde der Universität Mannheim, and the Karin and Carl Esser foundation, awarded the prize to the alumni program of TU Berlin. The Berlin network received the prize and the prize money in the amount of 10,000 euros for organizing a career week for international early-stage researchers. The jury honored this measure in particular with regard to the shortage of skilled workers.

Awarding the University Medals
At the event, Professor Thomas König and Michael Meckel, member of the foundation council of the Ekkehard Foundation, were awarded the University Medal. The university awards the medals as a thank you and as recognition for their outstanding commitment to the University of Mannheim.

At the Ekkehard Foundation, which was founded by his grandfather, Michael Meckel is the third generation of his family committed to the goal of providing international students to engage in an exchange that serves peace and promotes international understanding. Since the beginning, the Ekkehard Foundation has been paying the rent for apartments in the university’s guest houses. This is a prerequisite for internationality at the University of Mannheim. Meckel also funds scholarships for international students and supports the Deutschland Scholarship.

Professor Thomas König holds the chair of Political Science, European Politics. For many years, he has been one of the most committed and successful researchers of the university. For example, König has raised the funds for the Collaborative Research Center 884 “Political Economy of Reforms”. From 2010 until 2022, he was the speaker of the Collaborative Research Center. König also improved the international visibility of the Department of Political Science at the University of Mannheim by working as chief editor of the American Political Science Review from 2016 until 2020.