Update: 3 May 2023

FAQ on the Change of Name

The Senate of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität (WWU) Münster voted in favour of the WWU removing its namesake, Wilhelm II, from its name and in future using the name Universität Münster. The corresponding resolution has been approved by the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Science and Culture and is thus effective.

Why is the University changing its name?

In a session held on 18 July 2018, and at the suggestion of the students’ group, the Senate set up a working group tasked with drawing up a concept to take a critical, historical look at how to deal with Kaiser Wilhelm II, who gave the University its name. It was on this basis that the two-year project entitled “The Issue of WWU” came into being. The concluding report was presented and discussed in the Senate’s session of 25 January 2013.

What became apparent was that there is no living tradition linking the University of Münster with the man who gave it its name. In all anniversary celebrations since 1907, for example, the University only ever honoured the man who had the idea of setting up the University in its initial form: Franz von Fürstenberg. Moreover, there are no indications that Wilhelm II performed any particular services for the University, either financially or intellectually, which might justify honouring him today. After weighing up these new findings, the Senate recommended that the name of the University be changed.

More information on the “The Issue of WWU” project and on the concluding report:

When will the change of name come into effect?

It will come into effect on 1 October 2023.

Why is the additional word “Westphalian” being dropped?

When the name “Westphalian Wilhelm University” was given in 1907, it was the only university in the Prussian Province of Westphalia – a so-called state university. This meant that young people were able to study in their home region. In 1952, when the University of Münster gave itself the name “Westphalian Wilhelm University” for the second time, it was still the only university in Westphalia, which was an important argument for its re-establishment after 1945. Since then, there have been many other universities established in Westphalia. Therefore, the claim to be a Westphalian university is no longer applicable today. Added to this is the fact that the University of Münster today has an international orientation: its students and its academic and non-academic staff come from all over the world. The original regional definition as a state university, expressed in the term “Westphalian”, is therefore no longer in keeping with the times today.

What are the consequences of this change of name?

When the change of name comes into effect, the University will appear under its new name, logo and official seal in all legal respects. This concerns for example the issuing of contracts, testimonials, attestations and authentications. The aim is for the name and the new logo also to be used outside just the legal field as soon as possible after 1 October 2023. This applies especially to those areas which concern how we are seen from the outside. For reasons of economy or time, a temporary continued use of the old name and logo may become necessary, with the changeover taking place step by step. These modifications must be undertaken in all areas of the University – both in the Faculties and in the central administration.

Must official documents (e.g. contracts, testimonials, attestations and authentications) be exchanged?

Any legal obligations which the University entered into under its old name remain in force despite the change of name. Any certificates issued before 1 October 2023 retain their validity and will not be changed. Any regulations published before this date also remain valid; the University’s new name will be used in all new versions published after 1 October 2023.

Will there be a place of remembrance commemorating Wilhelm II, who gave his name to the University for so many years?

In 1895, when the University was still a “Royal Academy”, a portrait of the young Kaiser, or Emperor, was acquired to complete the Emperors’ Gallery in the Academy’s auditorium. This portrait was destroyed, probably in the early 1920s. So far, no other portrait of Wilhelm II has been found in the University’s possession. To create a place of remembrance in his honour does not today make sense in view of the highly problematic role he played in German history. Information on the historical background and developments can be found on the University’s homepage and on information boards in the Schloss and in Fürstenberg House. In addition, Wilhelm II and the historical, political, social and academic issues associated with his reign will continue to be the subject of research in various Faculties. The results of this research will be made available to the public in exhibitions and other publications.

What will the change of name cost?

It is not possible to make any concrete calculation of the costs due to the multidimensional nature of the process involved in changing the name. The biggest item in the overall costs will be those entailed by staff who will be implementing the change in the coming months. Material costs will arise primarily through the exchange of stocks. Any additional costs should be avoided, however, by using up older stocks and materials where this makes sense and is appropriate. Economy will be the watchword for all tasks and processes being undertaken.

Who can I contact if I have a question?

The project leader is Norbert Robers, Head of the Comms and PR Department. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to namensaenderung@uni-muenster.de