WHU was founded in 1984 at the initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Koblenz. Thirty years later and WHU is one of the most renowned German business schools with an exceptional national and international reputation.
WHU’s success has grown from its humble beginnings in an elementary school in Koblenz and fought opposition faced by the founders against their idea of opening a private university. Today, WHU stands proud as a top German business school.

Foundation of the School

The President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Koblenz, Hanno Luwdig, its Managing Director, Karl Darscheid and European business school executive, Udo Glittenberg, established WHU as a private university to balance deficits in business education. It is thanks to their dedication and determination that WHU is considered a leading European business school.
Development of the basic concept

In spring 1983, initial discussions about founding a private university culminated in the basic concept for an ‘independent, international, and elite university that prepares the future leaders for the economy’. This basic concept was submitted in May 1983 to the Rhineland Palatinate Ministry of Culture by Karl Darscheid, Managing Director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Koblenz, to demonstrate the state’s business community’s support for such an institution.

For the state to recognize the School, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry was the appropriate negotiating partner for the Ministry of Culture.  The first pre-requisite was the creation of a university body, the only type of body able to make an application for state recognition. The WHU Foundation was approved for this purpose in 1984. It is thanks to the School’s strong business contacts that a sound financial basis could be established to ensure the existence of the School in its early years.

Once the school was awarded state recognition, the first courses of study began on October 1, 1984. During its first few years, the School was based in an elementary school in Koblenz-Karthause. To enable expansion, the School began searching for alternative premises and found a suitable building in neighboring Vallendar. In August 1988 the School moved to the Marienburg in the center of the city. The School was able to successfully celebrate the inauguration of the new premises in time for the new academic year in October 1988.

Professor Dr. h.c. mult. Otto Beisheim – WHU namesake

Professor Dr. h.c. mult. Otto Beisheim sadly passed away on February 18, 2013. The WHU Foundation and School have lost a great friend and supporter.
Professor Dr. Beisheim, the founder of Metro and Metro AG shareholder, provided WHU with unwavering support and commitment. His generosity has allowed WHU to evolve into a prominent and reputable business school enjoyed by academics, the business world, students, alumni, and the public. After a difficult launch phase, Professor Dr. Beisheim restored WHU to solid financial ground by increasing the Foundation’s capital. Since then, WHU has taken his name as the Otto Beisheim School of Management in honor of his 50 million Deutschmark donation, which still constitutes a significant proportion of WHU’s endowment capital. 

Professor Dr. Beisheim also supported the creation and funding of two WHU chairs – the chair of Marketing and Commerce (founded in 1989) and the chair of Entrepreneurship (founded in 2000), the Otto Beisheim Chair and Prof. Otto Beisheim Endowed Chair respectively. The Professor Beisheim Foundation also partially funded a third chair for Technology and Innovation Management.
Professor Dr. Beisheim was interested in the excellence of teaching and research at the School, and his support was based on achievement in these areas. Alongside this commitment to WHU, Professor Dr. Beisheim generously supported other universities, schools, the arts and music, sports, and medical facilities.
In appreciation for his generous support, WHU named its benefactor and namesake Professor Dr. h.c. mult. Otto Beisheim an honorary senator in 2003 in celebration of his 80th birthday, the highest honor the School can bestow. In 2005, WHU conferred on him the Ring of Honour.
The WHU Foundation and School will hold his memory in the highest honor.

“Be assured that the namesake of your, our, university will remain committed to the purpose of this institution, with pride in what has been achieved and eagerness to face the challenges of tomorrow. I will always be the most energetic proponent of our idea of private initiative in the area of higher education and encouragement of the elite. I remain one of you.”

Professor Dr. h.c. mult. Otto Beisheim