Universität Heidelberg alumni from all over the US met in San
Francisco for the 2nd annual national alumni meeting of Heidelberg
Alumni US (HAUS) on the weekend of September 25 – 27, 2009. Former
Heidelbergers gathered from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey,
Virginia, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Oregon and
Washington, as well as the host state of California to reconnect with
fellow students, make new friends and to stay in touch with their alma
mater, Germany’s oldest university.
National Alumni Meeting
in San Francisco
"Connecting with Heidelberg University alumni was wonderful in America's loveliest city, San Francisco. What impressed me the most was how international and multi-generational the conference was! There were students from India, Poland, Germany and America, who had studied in the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80’s and 90’s”, said Heidelberg alumna Shelley King-McGee from California.
The alumni kicked off the weekend with a casual dinner on Friday night. Saturday morning the group met for its annual business meeting at San Francisco State University’s downtown campus. Several volunteers came forward to form new HAUS regional chapters in different areas of the country. The alumni also discussed further steps to build a stronger HAUS and improve networking among former and future students of Universität Heidelberg as well as opportunities to support their alma mater. “I am pumped up about the possibility to give something back to the university”, explained Hans Ulrich Bueff who studied medicine in Heidelberg and now practices in California.
Saturday afternoon was spent on a sailing cruise around Alcatraz Island. The infamous San Francisco fog that had gripped the city earlier in the week had lifted and the former Heidelbergers enjoyed a glorious trip on the “Bay Lady”, the largest schooner on the West Coast.
The main event was held Saturday evening at the museum of the well known sourdough bakery Bistro Boudin on Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco’s new Consul General Peter Rothen welcomed the HAUS members to his city. "I would like to commend the University of Heidelberg for three major achievements: first, for having embarked on setting up a network of US alumni and working to develop this as an operative communication platform between the university and its former students in the US; Second, for holding the second annual alumni meeting in San Francisco, because Heidelberg and San Francisco have important features in common: both enjoy beautiful settings, and both are home to some of the finest academic institutions in their respective countries. Third, and maybe most importantly, I am deeply impressed by the active approach that Heidelberg University displays towards the US academic 'market' - and for which the foundation of the HAUS network is only another example. Clearly, it is no longer sufficient for a German university to just wait for top students and scholars from the US to come. Today, it is only with an active reach-out policy towards the 'centers of excellence' in the field of science in the US and elsewhere that it is possible - even for top German universities - to remain a player in the increasingly global competition for the best brains. Heidelberg University, like a number of other German universities active in the US, is making considerable efforts in this regard and thereby shows that despite being the oldest German university, it is also as modern and as 'young at heart' as can be!"
While enjoying views of the bay, the alumni were greeted by Robert Berg, former Director of the American Junior Year (AJY) in Heidelberg, an exchange program for American students sponsored by Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. The AJY hosted the cocktail reception that evening. Robert Berg stressed that the 51 year old program had given several thousand American students the chance to spend a year at Universität Heidelberg.
Universität Heidelberg’s Rektor Bernhard Eitel had flown in from Heidelberg for the weekend to personally update the alumni on the current academic developments in Heidelberg and to give an overview of the upcoming 625th anniversary in 2011. The rector also stressed the close ties between Heidelberg University and America. The first American student, Michael Munier from St. Louis, enrolled in 1793. “The Universität Heidelberg is proud of its longstanding friendship with the United States of America. To further strengthen our transatlantic relationships the university is dedicated to building a mutually beneficial network of former students, researchers and friends of the Universität Heidelberg. The alumni meeting in San Francisco is an important step in this direction”, said Bernhard Eitel at the event.
Alumni mingled, networked, and shared experiences and memories, and many realized they had mutual friends. “It was great meeting so many interesting people. I had good conversations with
people from very different specialties, who all have the mutual interest to stay in touch. We can learn from each other’s expertise. It is very valuable to exchange ideas and to have this network,” said Hans Ulrich Bueff.
Universität Heidelberg founded their American alumni chapter in the fall of 2008 in New York City and the network has been growing ever since. Regional chapters in different areas of the country make it easier for former students, exchange students and researchers to connect and to attend special events in their area. The alumni network is part of Heidelberg University Association, a 501©3 non-profit entity, established in New York in early 2009. HAUS is governed by its own leadership committee.
Alumna Kathleen Lance, who as HAUS Secretary organizes the leadership committee, sums it up: “Our 2nd annual Heidelberg Alumni US (HAUS) meeting was a tremendous success. It was wonderful to re-connect with fellow alumni and make new friends. I see great momentum coming out of the San Francisco meetings, as we will be organizing additional new HAUS Regional Chapters across the US in the coming months. It is a most rewarding experience to be able to support the international reputation of our alma mater, Ruperto Carola, through this growing alumni network.”