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Wolfgang Ritter-Foundation: opening up opportunities
May 12, 2020
The promotion of young scientists and strengthening the common good are part of their guidelines: As one of Bremen's major scientific foundations, the Wolfgang Ritter-Foundation is committed to opening up opportunities and enabling talented young people to study at Jacobs University. "When I see that our support has an effect, that young, committed people are seizing their opportunities, I am deeply moved," says Alexander Witte, member of the Board of the Wolfgang Ritter-Foundation.
"The cooperation with the Wolfgang Ritter-Foundation is of great importance to Jacobs University," says Professor Antonio Loprieno, President of the international university. The Wolfgang Ritter-Foundation has supported 15 Bachelor students since 2013 alone. The foundation also supports doctoral students within the framework of the Matching Fund of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Half of the funding is being paid by the foundation each year, and in the past three years, it has done so for 26 doctoral students. It also supports the organization of individual events on campus of Jacobs University. Why does it do this? "We share the same values and attitudes: Our founding fathers wanted to give something back, to strengthen young scientists and the common good," says Witte.
The importance of this work is particularly evident in the impressive personalities the foundation supports. One of them was the aspiring scientist Linda Engefu Kokwaro. Her studies at Jacobs University and the support provided by the Wolfgang Ritter-Foundation have had a lasting impact on her, academically and personally. She is currently pursuing a graduate course in Medical Neuroscience at Charité University of Medicine in Berlin. "My goal is to be involved in more open science projects and to spread the footprint of women and people of color through meaningful scientific impact. I hope to follow in the footsteps of my uncle, Professor John Kokwaro (DSc, PhD), the first Kenyan to be awarded a Doctor of Science degree."
Wolfgang Ritter and Klaus J. Jacobs, eponym of Jacobs University, were great Bremen entrepreneurs. Born in 1905, Ritter was the owner and chairman of the board of Martin Brinkmann AG, one of the most successful companies in Northern Germany with almost 6,000 employees and a turnover in the billions. In 1970, Ritter sold the majority of shares, withdrew from active business and established his foundation. Its aim: to promote young academics – regardless of their origin, religion or gender. Klaus J. Jacobs later formulated it in a very similar way. His motto was: "Young or old, rich or poor, woman or man – everyone has the right to a good education."
As one of the major science foundations of the State of Bremen, the commitment of the Wolfgang Ritter-Foundation goes far beyond supporting Jacobs University’s students. The Wolfgang Ritter-Prize, which is awarded annually, is one of the most highly endowed prizes for scientific achievements in business administration and economics. The Wolfgang Ritter-Study-Award is intended to support outstanding young scientists. In addition, the foundation supports numerous dialogue formats such as the Bremen University Talks, thereby strengthening interdisciplinary exchange and knowledge transfer.
"We are dealing with four topics in greater depth," explains Alexander Witte. "With value-oriented corporate management, sustainability, operational theory of function and issues relating to globalization." Like his colleagues on the board of directors, Prof. Dr. Helge Bernd von Ahsen and Prof. Dr. Heiko Staroßom, the entrepreneur exercises his office on an honorary basis. "The work in the foundation enables me together with my colleagues on the board and our partners in science to take part in creating added value for young people and the society. This fills me with joy and satisfaction," says Witte.
For the foundation, the close cooperation with Jacobs University is also an expression of the appreciation for the work done there. "We act as partners, hand in hand." New joint projects, an intensification of cooperation – there are many positive perspectives. Alexander Witte: "Jacobs University has many exciting ideas. We are happy to contribute to their implementation."