School's 30th Anniversary Celebration!


30 years of excellence: research and teaching in economics and business at RWTH Aachen University!Read and hear what people are saying about the School's anniversary.   


On October 26, 2016 the School of Business and Economics formally celebrated 30 years of teaching and research. It was an evening of celebration which comprised both a retrospective look at the School's history and a forward look at what the future holds for the School.

The celebration was formally opened with speeches by Dr. Margrethe Schmeer, Mayor of the City of Aachen; Michael Bayer, CEO of the Aachen Chamber of Industry and Commerce; and Prof. Dr. Malte Brettel, Vice-Rector of RWTH Aachen University.

The Dean of the School of Business and Economics, Prof. Kittsteiner, followed on from the introductory speeches with his reflections on the past, present, and future of the School. According to Dean Kittsteiner, "A celebratory event such as this is a good opportunity to take stock of what we have achieved so far, of where we now stand, and of where we want to be in the future". From the early days of the School until the present day, a considerable development has taken place: nowadays, the School comprises more than 30 professorships, about 490 members of staff, and - if students of engineering and business are included in the figures - well over 6000 students. Moreover, the School of Business and Economics at RWTH Aachen University has not only made a name for itself in Germany; its reputation goes far beyond the country's borders.

The Dean also pointed out some relevant aspects of the School's future: the establishing of a sharpened profile and the developing of expertise in a future-oriented research field could lead to the School gaining an even more enhanced reputation nationally and internationally. For instance, the School might focus on economic digitalization and the ensuing challenges which will face management, industry, and society. The School of Business and Economics - firmly embedded in a university of technology - is exceedingly well equipped to help address such challenges. First developments are already visible: for instance, a new professorship "Management for Industry 4.0" has already been created. Furthermore, the School can offer an integrated solution approach, where practice, empiricism, and theory are mutually enriching. The Dean went on to point out other challenges which the School will need to address, one of them being that of stagnating - or possibily even shrinking - public funding.

During the evening, Dr. Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group, gave the audience an insight into the topic of "Management in the 21st Century". Dr. Appel also took the opportunity to congratulate all members of the School on their achievements. He, too, sees an important aspect of growth in digitalization: "For decades now, globalization has created growth. But that's over now. We need to concentrate on digitalization".

The School's Prof. Paul Thomes appeared in an informative video on the history of the School of Business and Economics:


In order to understand the relevance of today's School of Business and Economics, it is essential to take a look at its past. The celebration of the last 30 years does not do full justice to the long history of business and economics studies in Aachen, as these have the same long tradition as RWTH Aachen University itself. As Prof. Paul Thomes explains, "Back in 1870, economics and business teaching was already an integral part of the University's program. The founders of RWTH Aachen University were aware that technological and economics/business contents must be mutually complementary".

However, business and economics did not establish their autonomy, as it were, until 1986. It was then that the opportunity arose for them to emerge from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities as a separate faculty. Thomes: "As of that point, the School of Business and Economics began its own individual path of impressive development".

Prof. Thomes' video presentation was followed by an alumni panel discussion on "Business and Economics and Digital Transformation", which was moderated by the School's Prof. Malte Brettel. Former students - including doctoral students - of the School described how studying with the School of Business and Economics at RWTH Aachen University had facilitated their professional careers. At the same time, they also suggested ways in which teaching and learning might be enhanced.

As Dean Kittsteiner told the audience, "In the past 30 years plenty has happened in the School, but that also applies to the last five or six years". Kittsteiner himself has been a member of the School for 7 years. He was, of course, referring to structural changes which have taken place within the School and which stem from the "Excellence Initiative". For instance, the Interdisciplinary Management Factory (IMF) was created, as were four interdisciplinary Research Areas. Moreover, the School has consolidated its contacts to firms in the Aachen region and to start-ups which have established themselves locally.  According to Kittsteiner, "It is a part of our mission to transfer our knowledge to the local economy. This means that we also want to actively participate in the changes that will ensue for the local economy from "Industry 4.0".

The School also wants to continue to pursue its international goals: "We want to set international standards against which we would like to be measured", says Kittsteiner.

It will be interesting to look back at the next School anniversary celebration and see how the School has achieved its goals in the interim.

At the end of the formal part of the celebration, numerous congratulations were conveyed to all the School's guests in video form.