[Translate to Englisch:]
Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Horst Sund. Photo rights: University of Konstanz

A lifetime of investment in the University of Konstanz

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Horst Sund, rector of the University of Konstanz from 1976 to 1991, died on 9 August 2021.

Horst Sund passed away on 9 August 2021 at the age of 94. He was rector of the University of Konstanz from 1976 to 1991. "The University of Konstanz grieves for Horst Sund. We regret the loss of one of the most important rectors in our university’s history. The University of Konstanz owes a great deal of what we are today to Horst Sund. He made an enduring impact – as a researcher, a science manager, a networker and a communicator. We are truly grateful for Horst Sund and his extraordinary lifelong achievement” says Professor Dr Katharina Holzinger, current rector of the University of Konstanz. Horst Sund was given the title of an honorary citizen of the University of Konstanz, the institution’s highest distinction.

The impetus for developing the Department of Biology
The chemist Horst Sund joined the University of Konstanz one year after its inception in 1967 as professor of biochemistry and one of the university’s first three professors in the natural sciences. He was attracted to the opportunity to create something new and shaped the Department of Biology in key ways. Sund earned his habilitation in biochemistry at the University of Freiburg in 1964 and subsequently laid the foundation for the biochemical focus of his department in Konstanz. Not least through his own research on the relationships between the chemical structure and biological activity of proteins, the Department of Biology in Konstanz kept pace with international developments. National and international recognition for his work followed only a few years later. “I knew that the conditions in Konstanz were ideal”, Horst Sund later noted.

Everyone’s rector
When Sund became rector of the University of Konstanz in 1976, the ten-year-old university was in the middle of a yearlong crisis that was the result of a conflict over the university’s constitution. While managing this crisis Horst Sund proved himself to be an equally decisive and empathetic leader who understood how to bring the entire university back together. At his farewell celebration when his tenure as rector ended in 1991, Sund was aptly named “everyone’s rector” by fellow biologist Professor Dirk Pette. The title honoured how he included staff and ensured the greatest possible transparency in decision-making processes across the university. In this way, Sund provided decisive support to the three academic areas of the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. During his tenure as rector, all three achieved top positions in national and international rankings, including those completed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Humboldt Foundation.

Support for research and teaching
While Horst Sund was rector, the university acquired funding for and established five collaborative research centres (CRC) and five research centres. University teaching also benefited from the corresponding new research priorities. In keeping with the goal to provide research-based teaching, new graduate study programmes were created with corresponding curricula. In 1988, the first-ever structured doctoral programme funded by the DFG, called "Research Training Group", was launched at the University of Konstanz during Sund's tenure. Described “as an untiring traveller and lobbyist for the expansion and continual development of the University of Konstanz” by Dirk Pette at his farewell ceremony, Horst Sund also used his art of persuasion to attain political support for the university. As a result, the university was able to complete major construction projects like the physics building, the library and the sports facilities during Horst Sund’s tenure and despite budgetary pressures.

19 international university partnerships
The University of Konstanz’s international presence was decisively advanced by Horst Sund’s efforts. The University of Konstanz’s first cooperation agreements with international universities were concluded during his tenure. Among the 19 partnerships he initiated are those with the universities in Tel Aviv (Israel), Kiev (Ukraine), Pittsburgh (USA) and Shanghai (China). As a result of the latter partnership, Horst Sund was awarded honorary professorships at all three universities in Shanghai. At his 70th birthday celebration, Sund was described by the then president of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Professor Theodor Berchem, as the “Marco Polo of international academic relations”.

“Special emissary of the Lake Constance region”
Though he was born in Hamburg, Sund also stands for the deep ties the University of Konstanz holds to the surrounding region. At his farewell celebration in 1991, Sund was also named the “special emissary of the Lake Constance region for culture and contacts” by then mayor of Konstanz, Horst Eickmeyer. On this occasion and in honour of his contribution to integrating the university into life in Konstanz, Horst Sund was awarded the ring of honour from the city of Konstanz. His contacts to important institutions in the region extended from the local German Chambers of Industry and Commerce to the neighbouring Swiss cantons of Thurgau and Schaffhausen. Horst Sund was active in the regional council “Bodenseerat” in a variety of ways. As a cofounder of the University of Konstanz Alumni Association (VEUK e.V.), Sund found new ways to connect with former members as well as friends of the university. He chaired the association from 1997 to 2000 and became its honorary chair in 2003. In appreciation for his work, many regional Fasnacht (carnival) organizations have made Horst Sund an honorary member over the years.

Influential positions
In addition to his work at the University of Konstanz, Horst Sund was also active in multiple influential political positions and commissions related to higher education. From 1979 to 1986, he was a member of the West German Rectors’ Conference, and from 1980 to 1984, he chaired the State Rectors’ Conference of Baden-Württemberg. Horst Sund chaired the Baden-Württembergische China-Gesellschaft from 1984 to 2009, and was  named its honorary chair in 2009. From 1995 to 2010, he acted as the representative of the Federal Foreign Office and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for establishing the Chinesisch-Deutschen Hochschulkolleg (CDHK) at Tongji University in Shanghai. In 2010, he became the institution’s honorary director for life. His engagement in research and science policy was honoured with a long list of awards. In 1991 he received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, honorary professorships from all three universities in Shanghai,the Fudan, Jiao Tong and Togji universities. He was named honorary senator of the Jiao Tong University and was presented the People’s Republic of China Friendship Award as well as the City of Shanghai’s Magnolia Prize. Horst Sund was also honorary member of the Institute for Geography and Limnology at the Academia Sinica in Nanjing.

Katharina Holzinger concludes, "I certainly speak for many current and former members and affiliates of our university when I say: We will dearly miss Horst Sund, his lasting commitment as well as his ever cheerful presence."