University of Innsbruck

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University of Innsbruck
Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck
LFU unilog.gif
Latin: Universitas Leopoldino Franciscea, Alma Mater Oenipontana
EstablishedOctober 15, 1669; 352 years ago (1669-10-15) (as a university)
RectorTilmann Märk
Academic staff
3,164 (227 professors)
Administrative staff
47°15′46″N 11°23′4″E / 47.26278°N 11.38444°E / 47.26278; 11.38444Coordinates: 47°15′46″N 11°23′4″E / 47.26278°N 11.38444°E / 47.26278; 11.38444

The University of Innsbruck (German: Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck; Latin: Universitas Leopoldino Franciscea) is a public research university in Innsbruck, the capital of the Austrian federal state of Tyrol, founded on October 15, 1669.[1]

It is currently the largest education facility in the Austrian Bundesland of Tirol, and the third largest in Austria behind Vienna University and the University of Graz. Significant contributions have been made in many branches, most of all in the physics department. Further, regarding the number of Web of Science-listed publications, it occupies the third rank worldwide in the area of mountain research.[2] In the Handelsblatt Ranking 2015, the business administration faculty ranks among the 15 best business administration faculties in German-speaking countries.[3]


In 1562, a Jesuit grammar school was established in Innsbruck by Peter Canisius, today called "Akademisches Gymnasium Innsbruck". It was financed by the salt mines in Hall in Tirol, and was re-chartered as a university on October 15, 1669, by Leopold I with four faculties. In 1782 this was reduced to a mere lyceum (as were all other universities in the Austrian Empire, apart from Prague, Vienna and Lviv), but it was reestablished as the University of Innsbruck in 1826 by Emperor Franz I. The university is therefore named after both of its founding fathers with the official title "Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck" (Universitas Leopoldino-Franciscea).

In 1991, Lauda Air Flight 004 crashed in Thailand, killing all aboard, including 21 members of the University of Innsbruck. The passengers included professor and economist Clemens August Andreae, another professor, six assistants, and 13 students. Andreae had often led field visits to Hong Kong.[4]

Main building of the University of Innsbruck

In 2005, copies of letters written by the emperors Frederick II and Conrad IV were found in the university's library. They arrived in Innsbruck in the 18th century, having left the charterhouse Allerengelberg in Schnals due to its abolishment.

In October 2021, a debate took place at the University of Innsbruck on the Peace Studies course. This debate also received media interest, first of all by the Austrian Broadcasting Company (ORF) and the Tiroler Tageszeitung. The debate resulted in a press conference, given by the central university administration, in which they declared, that the peace studies, nevertheless called MA Programm, was not an official MA Programm at the University of Innsbruck, but only an extracurricular Course for Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation [außerordentlicher Lehrgang für Frieden, Entwicklung, Sicherheit und internationale Konflikttransformation], that should be soon transformed into a regular curricular study programm with a university degree [in ein Regelstudium überführt].[5]

Ceremonial Equipment[edit]

In the main building of the University of Innsbruck
1998 copy of Olomouc University Rector's Mace - the original from ca. 1572 is as of 2015 still held by Innsbruck University

In the 1850s, the Habsburgs gradually closed the University of Olomouc as a consequence of the Olomouc students' and professors' participation in the 1848 revolutions and the Czech National Revival. The ceremonial equipment of the University of Olomouc was then transferred to the University of Innsbruck. The original Olomouc ceremonial maces from the 1580s are now used as the maces of Innsbruck University and Innsbruck Medical University. Olomouc University Rector's mace from ca. 1572 is nowadays used as the mace of the Innsbruck Faculty of Theology and Olomouc Faculty of Law Dean's Mace from 1833 is nowadays used as Innsbruck's Faculty of Law Mace.[6]

Since the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the Czechs have been unsuccessfully requesting the return of the University of Olomouc's original ceremonial equipment. Many years later, in 1998, Innsbruck donated an exact copy of the rector's mace to Palacký University, but it is still, in 2015, using the Olomouc University original maces and other regalia as its own ceremonial equipment.[6]

The faculties[edit]

The new plan of organisation (having become effective on October 1, 2004) installed the following 16 faculties to replace the previously existing six faculties:

As of 1 January 2004, the Faculty of Medicine was sectioned off from the main university to become a university in its own right. This is now called the Innsbruck Medical University (Medizinische Universität Innsbruck).

The inter-disciplinary unit called the Digital Science Center (DiSC) was founded in 2019 to integrate and promote digitalisation of scientific research as well as to support high-quality science.


The university buildings are spread across the city and there is no university campus as such. The most important locations are:

  • Theology faculty was opened 1562 as a Jesuit School in 1766 and the university used buildings from the Jesuit church in the Leopoldsaal (the original university).
  • In 1924, main building and the university library opened.
  • 1969 the scientific faculty and the construction faculty in Hotting west was opened.
  • 1976 construction began on "Geiwi tower" for the former Philosophy faculty, an addition to the main building.
  • 1997 The Social Science faculty (built in the former Fenner barracks) was opened.
  • 2012 Center of Chemistry and Biomedicine was opened.
  • Several university clinics of the medical university in the area became Tyrolian national hospitals.

Points of interest[edit]

Nobel laureates[edit]

  • Hans Fischer, chemist (born 1881 Höchst a. M., died 1945 Munich)
He was widely respected for his research on hemoglobin and chlorophyll, and on the synthesis of haemin. He also succeeded in explaining the constitution of chlorophyll. Fischer held chairs in Innsbruck (1916–18), Vienna (1918–21) and Munich (1921–1945). He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1930.
  • Victor Francis Hess, physicist (born 1883 Schloss Waldstein, died 1964 Mount Vernon, New York, U.S.A.)
After studying in Graz he worked under Franz Exner at the Department of Physics in Vienna, becoming a Dozent in 1910 and an assistant at the new Institute of Radium Research. The discovery of cosmic radiation is particularly associated with him. Hess was appointed to Graz in 1920 and in 1931 to Innsbruck. In 1937 he returned to Graz but was forced to emigrate in 1938. He obtained a professorship at Fordham University in New York. He won the Nobel prize for Physics in 1936.
  • Fritz Pregl, physician and chemist (born 1869 Laibach (Ljubljana), died 1930 Graz)
He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1923 for making important contributions to quantitative organic microanalysis, one of which was the improvement of the combustion train technique for elemental analysis. From 1913 on he was professor of Medical Chemistry in Innsbruck for three years.
He won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1928 for his work on sterols and their relation to vitamins. He was at the University of Innsbruck from 1916 till 1918 at the Institute of Medical Chemistry.

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Victims of political persecution and terror[edit]

  • Ludwig Wahrmund was professor of Canon Law in 1908 who was ousted from his post following critical remarks about the Catholic Church's interference in academic freedom.[8]
  • Christoph Probst (born 6 November 1919 in Murnau am Staffelsee : executed 22 February 1943 in Munich) was a student of medicine and a member of the White Rose (Weiße Rose) resistance group.
  • Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J. (Portugalete, Biscay, Spain, 9 November 1930 – San Salvador, 16 November 1989) was a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian. Ignacio Ellacuría was a close friend and colleague of the scholars Ignacio Martín-Baró and Segundo Montes, all of whom were assassinated with Ellacuría by the Salvadoran army, along with three colleagues and two employees. He earned his master's degree at Innsbruck University.
  • Segundo Montes, S.J. (Valladolid, Spain, 15 May 1933 – San Salvador, El Salvador, 16 November 1989) was a scholar, philosopher, educator, sociologist and Jesuit priest. Segundo Montes was a close friend and colleague of the scholars Ignacio Martín-Baró and Ignacio Ellacuría, all of whom were murdered with Montes by the Salvadoran army, along with three other colleagues and two other employees. He earned his master's degree at Innsbruck.
  • Kurt von Schuschnigg (1897–1977) was Austria chancellor and was imprisoned until 1945 after the anschluss (1938).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "History of the University of Innsbruck", University of Innsbruck website
  2. ^ Körner, Christian (2009). "Global Statistics of "Mountain" and "Alpine" Research". Mountain Research and Development. 29: 97–102. doi:10.1659/mrd.1108.
  3. ^ "Ranking-Erfolg für BWL".
  4. ^ a b "Im Gedenken an den Flugzeugabsturz 1991." (Archive) University of Innsbruck. Retrieved on 15 February 2013. "223 Menschen, darunter 21 Angehörige der Universität Innsbruck, kamen beim Absturz der Boeing 767, die am 26. Mai 1991 nach einem Zwischenstopp von Bangkok Richtung Wien gestartet war, ums Leben. Neben dem bekannten Wirtschaftswissenschaftler Prof. Clemens August Andreae, der die finanzwissenschaftliche Exkursion nach Hongkong geleitet hatte, waren ein weiterer Professor, sechs Assistentinnen und Assistenten und 13 Studierende an Bord des Unglücksfliegers, der aufgrund einer defekten Schubumkehr nur 15 Minuten nach dem Abflug in den Thailändischen Dschungel stürzte."
  5. ^ Tilmann Märk (Rektor Innsbruck University ) on the press conference, October 12, 2021, see: Benedikt Mair, «Von Esoterik war nie die Rede»: Uni Innsbruck reagiert auf Causa Peace Studies, Tiroler Tageszeitung (TT), Innsbruck, October 13, 2021. Cf. TT October 6, 2021, TT October 7, 2021, cf. TT, Oxtober 10, 2021, TT, October 13, 2021, ORF 2, Zeit im Bild 2, October 13, 2021, 10:00 pm, Tirol Heute, October 13, 2021, with the starting sentence in the TV-report: "Severe allegations of abuse exist against the recently retired manager of the course on peace and conflict research at the University of Innsbruck. The University rejects the allegations, as reported previously"..
  6. ^ a b Fiala, Jiří (12 July 1998). "Původní žezlo rektora olomoucké univerzity [Original mace of Olomouc University's Rector]" (PDF). Žurnál Univerzity Palackého (in Czech). Olomouc: Palacký University of Olomouc. 7 (28). Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  7. ^ Pace, Eric (1994-06-17). "James Demske, 72, A Jesuit Priest Who Led Canisius College". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  8. ^ Geehr, Richard S. (1990). Karl Lueger: Mayor of Fin de Siècle Vienna. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 9780814320778.