WHU was founded in 1984 at the initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Koblenz. After more than 25 years, it is not only counted among the best and most respected centers of business education in Germany, but it also enjoys an excellent reputation internationally. This success-story makes it easy to forget the school's humble beginnings, when it was located in an elementary school in Koblenz, as well as the opposition faced by the founders against their idea of opening a private university.
This idea of establishing a private university in order to balance the deficits in business education brought together the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Koblenz, Hanno Ludwig, its Managing Director, Karl Darscheid and European Business School executive, Udo Glittenberg. Without their long-standing dedication and determination to operate a private university in Koblenz, there would be no WHU today.
Initial considerations and discussions concerning the founding of a private university took place in the spring of 1983, culminating in the “basic concept for an independent, international elite university for the preparation of future leadership for the economy.” In May 1983 this basic concept was submitted to the Rhineland Palatinate Ministry of Culture by Karl Darscheid, in his position as Managing Director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Koblenz to demonstrate the state’s business community’s interest in such an institution.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry was the appropriate and credible negotiating partner for the Ministry of Culture, which was the instance deciding on the state recognition of the School. The first pre-requisite for this was the creation of a university body, which was the only type of body that had the right to make an application for state recognition. This first obstacle was surmounted in March 1984 with the approval of the "WHU Foundation". The creation of a sound financial basis, which would ensure the existence of the business school in its early years, would also not have been possible without the School's strong business contacts.
After the School had been awarded state recognition, the first courses of study began on October 1, 1984. In its first few years, the School was located in the rooms of an elementary school in Koblenz-Karthause. Over the long term, the premises were insufficient for a growing WHU. A search was conducted for an appropriate home for WHU, ideally a location that would offer scope for expansion. Finally, a suitable building was found in neighboring Vallendar. In August 1988, the School moved to the "Marienburg" in the centre of Vallendar. The School was able to celebrate the inauguration of the new premises just in time for the beginning of the Winter semester on October 1, thereby concluding a period of provisional and temporary measures.