President Emeritus Wolfgang A. Herrmann

During his tenure as President from 1995 to 2019, Wolfgang A. Herrmann transformed TUM into a modern, open-minded university of international renown. He pursued a rigorous reform and revitalization policy, always challenging habitual thought patterns. This progressive outlook and willingness to embrace change has now become embedded into the entire university culture. TUM has become an entrepreneurial university dedicated to driving scientific progress in fields of study with the potential to bring sustainable improvements to people's lives and societies.

Modell of success: The Entrepreneurial University

Herrmann gave TUM greater autonomy and room to maneuver by introducing far-reaching university governance reforms. These were made possible by an “experimentation clause” in the new Bavarian Higher Education Act (Bayerisches Hochschulgesetz) of 1998, and they have proved ground-breaking for academia right across Germany. Today, TUM is regarded as one of the leading research universities in Europe and it has qualified as a University of Excellence continuously since 2006.

During his 24-year term of office, Herrmann decided to personally look after the appointment of new professors with the specific aim of attracting top academic talent to raise the university’s profile. In total, he appointed nearly 500 new professors. By systematically expanding the university’s international reach, he connected TUM with the world and made it increasingly appealing to overseas students and researchers. Important milestones included the establishment of the TUM Institute for Advanced Study and a campus in Singapore (the private limited company TUM Asia Pte. Ltd. as subsidiary of TUM), the TUM Campus Straubing, as well as the TUM Campus Heilbronn and TUM International GmbH.

TUM was the first German university to introduce a true tenure track appointment system based on the international model. It broke new ground in the training of doctoral candidates and the career paths of postdocs. By strengthening the role of social sciences (Munich Center for Technology in Society, 2012) and integrating the Bavarian School of Public Policy (HfP) into TUM in 2014, the university succeeded in building a bridge between science and engineering on the one hand, and the big questions currently facing society on the other. This interface forms the basis for its “human-centered engineering” and “future design” concepts for the Excellence Strategy 2019 .

During his term as President, the TUM locations of Singapore, Straubing, Heilbronn, Raitenhaslach and Berchtesgaden were opened and over 2.5 billion euro was invested in new buildings in Garching and Freising-Weihenstephan. In Burghausen, the TUM Science & Study Center Raitenhaslach was created in a former Cistercian abbey.

Continued commitment as President Emeritus

In his role as President Emeritus, Herrmann will use his national and international network for the benefit of TUM. As a board member of the non-profit TUM University Foundation, which he founded in 2010, he will help to promote academic talent and win TUM Partners of Excellence to support the university’s fundraising efforts. In his role as non-executive chairman, he will support the development of TUM Asia Pte. Ltd. in Singapore (founded in 2001). As deputy chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation’s board of directors (Moscow), he will use his experience to strengthen economic and academic ties between Germany and Russia. Public trusts, businesses as well as political decision makers rely on his experience in educational and university policy.

Learn more

Festive publication on the occasion of the hand-over of the office of President to Thomas F. Hofmann on October 1, 2019:

Thomas F. Hofmann: “Wolfgang A. Herrmann – Die Gewohnheiten des Denkens überwinden“ (München: TUM.University Press, 2019) – in German.

  • Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl: Digitalisierung der Katalyse [Digitalization of catalysis] (foreword by Prof. Dr. Richard W. Fischer)
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas F. Hofmann: Die Gewohnheiten des Denkens überwinden! [Rethinking habitual thought patterns!]
  • Dr. Edmund Stoiber: Herrmanns Gespür für Politik [Herrmann’s flair for politics]
  • Dr. Otto Wiesheu: Katalysator im Münchner Ökosystem [A catalyst in Munich’s ecosystem]
  • Prof. Dr. Helmut Schwarz: In aller Welt sichtbar [Visible on the global stage]
  • Prof. Dr. Arnulf Melzer: Die hohe Kunst des Fundraisings [The fine art of fundraising]


  • Résumé and impressions
  • Interview on taking office, from the university magazine “TUM-Mitteilungen“ in summer 1995

Select articles by Wolfgang A. Herrmann – in German

“Die Technische Universität heute: Alma Mater oder aufmüpfige Tochter?” [The technical university today: alma mater or rebellious daughter?], inaugural speech as President of TUM at Dies Academicus event held on December 7, 1995 (pdf, 980 KB).

Speech marking the 150th anniversary of TUM’s foundation at the ceremony held in the Hercules Hall of the Munich Residenz on April 12, 2018.

“Internationale TUM Alumni sind unsere Botschafter in der Welt” [International TUM alumni are our global ambassadors], article in alumni magazine KontakTUM, 2010/1 (pdf, 200 KB).

Letter from President to all members of TUM on receiving the accolade of University of Excellence, October 13, 2006 (pdf, 304 KB).

“Unternehmen Universität – Universität unternehmen. Deutschland im Paradigmenwechsel des Hochschulsystems” [Bringing entrepreneurship to a university. A paradigm shift in Germany’s higher education system], June 2005 (pdf, 314 KB).

„Ich wär ‘ ein schlechter Kapitän...“, Editorial zum Abschied aus dem Präsidentenamt, TUMcampus 3/2019.

Further contributions

Media reports about Wolfgang A. Herrmann

Since 2019
Deputy Chairman, Board of Directors, Skolkovo Foundation (Moscow)

President of the Technical University of Munich

1988 / 1993
Offers of chair positions from ETH Zurich; not accepted

Offer to join the Hoechst AG as head of corporate research; not accepted

Chair of Inorganic Chemistry at TUM in succession Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. E.O. Fischer

Chair of Inorganic Chemistry, J. W. Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main

Associate Professor for Chemistry at the University of Regensburg

Postdoctoral teaching qualifiation (Habilitation) from the University of Regensburg (“Organometallic Syntheses with Diazoalkanes“)

Research Fellow of the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the laboratory of Prof. P. S. Skell (Humboldt Fellow, Pennsylvania State University/USA)

Doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) at the University of Regensburg, supervised by Prof. Henri Brunner („Optically Active Transition Metal Complexes with Square-Pyramidal Geometry“)

Diploma thesis supervised by Prof. Ernst Otto Fischer, TUM (PH3-complexes of transition metals)

Study of Chemistry at TUM, fellow of the scholarship body of the German Catholic Episcopate (Cusanuswerk)

High-school graduation (Abitur) from Donau-Gymnasium Kelheim/Bavaria


DTU Gold Medal (Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen)

Commandeur de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur of the French Republic

Dr. Karl Wamsler Innovation Award, Clariant AG

„Pro meritis scientiae et litterarum“ awarded by the Bavarian Ministry for Science and Arts

Christoph Mendel von Steinfels-Medal, Honorary Chair of Universität Bayern e.V.

Georg Maurer Medal in Gold of the Klinikum rechts der Isar, TUM University Hospital

Golden Ring of Honor from the Administrative District of Altötting

Graf Maximilian Montgelas Prize

Honorary Citizen of Straubing

Medal for the Protection of Historical Monuments, Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments

Honorary Citizen of Burghausen

13 Honorary Doctorates
Memberships in academies of sciences in Mainz, Halle (Leopoldina), Munich (acatech) and Stockholm

Gold Medal for Services to the University Town of Garching near Munich

Gold Medal of Honor of the Administrative District of Berchtesgadener Land

Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art

President of the Year 2012 (Deutscher Hochschulverband/ German Association of University Professors and Lecturers)

“Goldene Bürgermedaille“ of the University Town of Freising (Outstanding Citizen Award, gold medal)

University Manager of the Year 2009 (Financial Times Deutschland, Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung)

Bayerischer Verdienstorden (Bavarian Order of Merit)

Bayerische Verfassungsmedaille (Bavarian Order of the Constitution)

Charles M. Knight-Lectureship (University of Akron)

ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry (American Chemical Society)

Officier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur of the French Republik

Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande (Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon)

Wilhelm Klemm Prize of the German Chemical Society

Glenn T. Seaborg Lecture, University of California at Berkeley/ USA

Rolf Sammet Visiting Professorship (Hoechst AG)

Max Planck Research Award

Otto Bayer Award (Chemistry), Leverkusen

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation

Klung Wilhelmy Science Award for Chemistry, Berlin

Chemistry Award of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Lecturer scholarship of the “Fonds der chemischen Industrie” (FCI) and the Aventis Foundation

Since 2021
Chair of the Founding Advisory Board of the Deutsche Zentrum Mobilität der Zukunft (DZM)

Chair of the Perspektivkommission for the foundation of two large research centers in Saxony (Lausitz and Mitteldeutsches Revier) 

Since 2020
Honorary President of the Kutaisi International University, Georgia

Since 2019
University council of the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt (Chair since 2020)

Chair of the “Innovationsbeirat“ of the Free State of Saxony

Council of the Foundation for the Promotion of Education, Science and Research of the Archdiocese of Cologne

Honorary Chair of Universität Bayern e.V.

Since 2017
Senate of the Max Planck Society

Board of Trustees of the Bertelsmann Stiftung

Chairman of the Global Alliance of Technological Universities (GlobalTech)

Advisory Board of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Since 2014
Board of Trustees of the TÜV SÜD Foundation (chair since 2018)

Chair of the “Zukunftsrat" (Future Council of the Bavarian industry association, vbw), together with Alfred Gaffal

Board of Trustees of the American Academy in Berlin

Advisory Board of the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich

“Zukunftsrat“ (Future Councillor) of the Bavarian State government

Since 2010
Board of the TUM University Foundation (Chairman 2010-2019)

German-Russian Ressources Forum (Steering committee, chair: Dr. Edmund Stoiber)

Since 2008
Executive Board of the Economic Advisory Council of Bavaria

Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) of the European Union

International Advisory Council of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia

Chairman of the "Bayerische Rektorenkonferenz" (Bavarian University Rectors Conference) and Founding Chairman of the "Universität Bayern e.V."

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Deutsches Museum Munich

Wolfgang A. Herrmann is one of the most-highly cited researchers in chemistry (ISI) with more than 800 scientific publications and around 80 patents; Hirsch index of 102 (1 May 2020). His research in inorganic and organometallic chemistry was aimed at the chemical synthesis of efficient, molecularly-defined catalysts, for industrial processes in particular, in order to achieve an understanding of their mechanisms and support their technical implementation. That he introduced N-heterocyclic carbenes to heterogeneous catalysis as highly efficient steering ligands, for example for industrial applications of olefin metathesis, is considered a methodical breakthrough.

He was awarded the highest honours in German academia, such as the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation DFG, the Max Planck Research Prize or the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. Many of his 180-plus students, whose doctorates or postdoctoral teaching qualification (Habilitation) he supervised, went on to become professors and board members of chemicals companies in Germany and abroad.

Herrmann studied chemistry at TUM (graduated in 1971). In 1985, his alma mater appointed him as successor to his former teacher, Nobel Prize winner Ernst Otto Fischer, at the Chair of Inorganic Chemistry.

Scientific publications