Kurt Biedenkopf (*1930)


Prof. Dr. jur. Kurt Biedenkopf is considered one of the founding fathers of HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management that was re-established in 1992.

In the 1970s, he was the Secretary General of the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and served as Prime Minister of the Free State of Saxony from 1990 to 2002. However, Biedenkopf, who is now 83, dedicated a great part of his life to the university. After studying law at Georgetown University, where he also received his doctorate and qualified as a professor, he served as the Rector of Ruhr-Universität Bochum from 1967 to 1969. After the reunification of Germany in 1990, Biedenkopf briefly taught as a Professor of Economics at Leipzig University before eventually assuming the leadership of the state government.

Since 2003, he has been the Chairman and since 2010 Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Hertie School of Governance, playing an active part in establishing it, the first German Professional School for Public Policy, in Berlin. He is also the founding President and now Honorary President of Dresden International University. In 2011, Kurt Biedenkopf accepted a research professorship at the WZB Social Research Center Berlin on the topic of “Democracy as Concept and Cultural Performance”. Moreover, he will focus on literary work over the next few years.

It was with great benevolence and personal commitment that the then Prime Minister of the Free State of Saxony accompanied the HHL project. The people who joined a brainstorming session at Prof. Dr. Biedenkopf’s Dresden apartment on the content of the HHL concept, which paved the way for training generalists, remember the meeting to this day. In a letter to the Managing Director of the Leipzig Chamber of Industry and Commerce dated February 8, 1993, as Prime Minister he once again emphasized his position by stating that the re-establishment of HHL was a matter close to his heart since the school, being a private institution, could most effectively contribute to training leadership elites. On June 5, 1993, he gave a speech entitled “The Academic Landscape Facing New Challenges” on the occasion of an event with friends and supporters of HHL held at the Old Stock Exchange. In the following years, he continued to support HHL. Since 2001, Prof. Dr. Biedenkopf has given lectures for MBA students of the “L-BEST” (leadership, business, ethics and technologies) seminar series developed by HHL. Additionally, he has not only served as the speaker at a graduation ceremony but has been actively involved in HHL’s student initiatives such as the Negotiation Challenge (world championship in negotiating).

During the festivities surrounding the 110th anniversary of HHL in 2008, Prof. Dr. Biedenkopf was awarded an honorary doctorate for his great accomplishments in science and culture in general and HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management in particular. Back then, he said: “The Free State of Saxony is lucky to be the home of HHL.” In an interview in 2012, he spoke about his connection to HHL: “First of all, I think of HHL’s great past. It can be traced back to the initiative of merchants and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce at the end of the 19th century. We resurrected HHL from a state of atrophy. And the result is amazing. Just look at the large number of students, the faculty and the new dean of this school. And considering the wide recognition of the university in numerous evaluations you can tell: bringing HHL back to life and giving it the opportunity to renew itself was a good idea.”

Photo: David Ausserhofer