RWTH Aachen Honors Professor Max Kerner

Professor Max Kerner Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter

The historian and former chair of the Senate has been honored with the von Kaven Ring.


Professor Dr. Max Kerner is among the RWTH representatives, who are known for their work not only within the University but also well beyond in the city and region. The historian was extremely involved in the self-administration of RWTH during his entire professional career. As a renowned scholar, he published numerous works, including "Karl der Große – Entschleierung eines Mythos" in 2000. The University is honoring him on January 29, 2016, by awarding him with the von Kaven Ring. This honor has only been given twice before: in 2005 to former RWTH rector, Dr. Roland Walter, and in 2006 to Dr. Jürgen Linden, the then lord mayor of Aachen.

August von Kaven was the founding director of the polytechnic that opened in Aachen in 1870, the predecessor institution of today's RWTH. Von Kaven played an important role in the initial organization and later expansion to a technical university. Representing liberal positions, he also advocated for accompanying, humanistic course offerings. Likewise, historian Max Kerner found it important to integrate enlightened humanism into the technology-oriented university, emphasized RWTH rector Ernst Schmachtenberg in his address honoring Kerner. One example is the Leonardo Project, initiated by Kerner. "Here, students learn to work in interdisciplinary teams and to develop various approaches to the solutions of social challenges likes climate change and globalization," explained Schmachtenberg.

Kerner was born in 1940 in Geilenkirchen and studied history and Latin in Cologne. In 1980 he was appointed professor of medieval and modern history at RWTH. He became the chair of medieval history and the director of the Department of History in 2002. He was dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities from 1982 to 1984 and vice-rector for teaching from 1986 to 1991. Additionally, he served for many years as the Rector's delegate for cooperation with Technion in Haifa and as speaker of the Forum Technik und Gesellschaft. As chair of the Außen-Institut, the predecessor to the RWTHextern Citizens' Forum, he shared his knowledge at many events with not only students but also residents of the region.

The scholar became a member of the RWTH Aachen Senate in 1996. A new University ordinance in 2000 established that the rector would no longer serve as Senate chair but rather that the chair would be elected from among the senators. As a result, Kerner was elected as Senate chair in 2002. During his time in office he impressively demonstrated how this body can contribute to the governance of the University. "The foundation for a culture of constructive togetherness was laid at RWTH during this time," stated the RWTH Rector, praising the services of his colleague, whose disputatious spirit served both academia and the University well. RWTH senators profited from Kerner's rhetorical abilities in the sometimes lengthy sessions and debates, which he likewise spiced with humorous and spirited performances. Kerner retired from the University in February 2009. However, this has not kept him from remaining involved with the Leonardo Project, among others, at RWTH Aachen.

Source: Press and Communications


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