Finger pointing to the Gießberg, where the university stands today. Photo: Heinz Finke.

How everything started

Time travel from the beginnings of the university to the present day

"Kiesinger-Zettel", first mention of the university by Minister President Kurt-Georg Kiesinger, 1959

The parliament of Baden-Württemberg decides to establish the University of Konstanz.

Der Gründungsausschuss bei der Schlussredaktion des Gründungsberichts. Im Vordergrund: Dr. Ralf Dahrendorf, Dr. Herbert Nesselhauf, 1./2. April 1965. 

Weitere Mitglieder: Dr. Hansjochem Autrum, Dr. Waldemar Besson, Dr. Hellmut Bredereck, Dr. Adam Falkenstein, Dr. Dr. h.c. Gerhard Hess, Dr. Dr. h.c. Ludwig Raiser. Dr. Joachim Ritter, Dr. Emil Tonutti
The founding committee during the final editing of the founding report on 1 and 2 April 1965, with Dr Ralf Dahrendorf and Dr Herbert Nesselhauf in the foreground.

The state government appoints the members of the foundation committee. In 1965, the founding committee of the University of Konstanz settles on the concept of the reform university. The aim is to combine several academic disciplines. Innovative study, teaching and research formats replace traditional university structures. Departments take the place of institutes, shoring up the university’s belief that teaching benefits from and should be developed with an eye on research.

Kurt Georg Kiesinger stands at the lectern in the Rosengarten Museum. Various people sit in several rows of chairs in front of him.

Ministerpresident Kurt Georg Kiesinger appoints the first eight professors of the university in the council hall of the city of Konstanz:

Hans Aebli, Waldemar Besson, Ralf Dahrendorf, Hans Robert Jauß, Franz Georg Maier, Herbert Nesselhauf, Wolfgang Preisendanz und Hansgert Peisert.

Two trees stand in front of the main entrance to the university.

Official founding date for the University of Konstanz (Senate vote on 28 February 1966)

Room with packed tables and lots of boxes. Two people carry a table out of the door.
In the door area: Nikolas Kämpfe. At the other end of the table is Dr Preisert, later Professor Hansgert Preisert.

The first student is enrolled: "It didn't start off with research and teaching but with moving furniture and packing boxes", recalls Nikolaus Kämpfe, the first student to be enrolled at the University of Konstanz. As the first student and a student assistant, he helped with the move into the University of Konstanz's Centre for Educational Research.

Wing of the Inselhotel. Partitions form individual offices.

In 1966, the University of Konstanz starts its work in a wing of the Inselhotel.

Two people in white coats lay the last stone of the foundation stone

On 21 June 1966, the foundation stone for the University of Konstanz was laid on the Gießberg and the first lecture was held in the Inselhotel Konstanz.

The first doctorate is awarded at the University of Konstanz.

The first habilitation (post doctoral qualification) is earned at the University of Konstanz. Dr. Wolfgang Zapf is the first member of the university to be authorized to teach at a university.

The early days involve but a handful of professors and about 200 students – a temporary set-up in the Sonnenbühl area of Konstanz.


Construction work on the University of Konstanz’s Gießberg campus begins in 1967: Chemistry building, dining hall, administration building, humanities lecture halls, Audimax, library administration and information centre, book section G, east section - humanities.

From the very beginning, it is conceived both as a living and working space, an idea that is reflected in the architecture.

Corridor with bookshelves lining the walls.

The University Library at the Giessberg site opens.

A centrally located and easily accessible library is an intrinsic part of the original concept of the reform university.

Tray with main course and dessert.

The dining hall at the Giessberg site and the cafeteria in the entrance area on level 05 are opened for business.

Historic gymnastics hall

Construction of the sports facilities begins.

Entrance to the Bischoffsvilla (white town villa)

The cluster of excellence "Cultural Foundations of Integration" is approved.

In the framework of the German Excellence Initiative for the promotion of science and research at German universities, the University of Konstanz is selected as a University of Excellence. The University was recognised twice by the international selection committee for its Institutional Strategy "Model Konstanz - Towards a Culture of Creativity" as well as the Konstanz Research School Chemical Biology.

Second funding phase of the German Excellence Initiative:

The University of Konstanz successfully completes its maximum goal in the second phase of the German Excellence Initiative with its institutional strategy, one cluster of excellence and two Graduate Schools. With the four grant approvals (as compared to three), the University of Konstanz is able to utilize even more resources than in the first phase of the German Excellence Initiative.

Aerial view of the University of Konstanz from 2024

The campus is characterised by short distances as well as a pleasant interplay of work spaces and rest areas. In place of large lecture halls, the University of Konstanz houses a huge variety of smaller seminar rooms. The university library is centrally located and freely accessibly. An extensive “percent for art programme” adds to the uniqueness of the ensemble.

Until this day, the university buildings are subject to reconstruction and expansion.

See the current construction projects

50 years of university history

In 2016, the University of Konstanz celebrated its 50th anniversary. Texts, images and films tell remarkable stories about the beginnings and development of the reform university of Konstanz.

Former rectors of the University of Konstanz

2018 – 2020

Professor Dr Kerstin Krieglstein

2009 – 2018

Professor Dr Dr h.c. mult. Ulrich Rüdiger

2000 – 2009    

Professor Dr Dr h.c. Gerhart v. Graevenitz †

1996 – 2000    

Professor Dr Rudolf Cohen †

1991 – 1996    

Professor Dr Dr h.c. mult. Bernd Rüthers †

1976 – 1991    

Professor Dr Dr h.c. mult. Horst Sund †

1974 – 1976

Professor Dr Frieder Naschold †

1972 – 1973

Dr Theopont Diez (State Commissioner) †

1966 – 1972   

 Professor Dr Dr Ing. E.h. Gerhard Hess †