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President Emeritus Wolfgang Wild

As TUM President (1980–86) and the first Bavarian minister of science, Wolfgang Wild played a defining role in shaping research and higher education in Bavaria. The renowned physicist and excellent scientific administrator paved the way for the subsequent evolution of TUM to become a University of Excellence.

TUM President: 1980–86

During his six-year term as TUM President, Wolfgang Wild focused in particular on intensifying cooperation between science and industry. Starting in 1986, he was very influential in the establishment of the Walter Schottky Institute for semiconductor physics – a cooperation between Siemens AG, TUM and the Bavarian state. This central TUM institute is now a world-renowned center for nanotechnology research. Wild was actively involved in setting up a new research neutron source, which was finally opened in 2004. He also regularly contributed to the public cultural policy debate, repeatedly claiming that the time had come for a new image in the natural sciences.

“I am hopeful that the rich and varied experience I have gained in founding new universities and through my work in research and scientific planning will now benefit my own alma mater”, Wild stated when he became TUM President. Before, he had been heavily involved in the foundation of new universities (as a member of the Structural Advisory Board in Regensburg; chairman of this board in Bayreuth, functioning as a founding rector) and was a long-standing member of the German Council of Science and Humanities.

First Bavarian State Minister of Science and Arts: 1986–89

In 1986, the TUM elected him President for another four years; in the same year, Bavaria’s then Minister-President Franz-Josef Strauß asked Wild, whom he considered to be a “very good scientific manager”, to join his cabinet as Bavaria’s first dedicated minister for science. Prior to this, this department had belonged to the ministry for culture.

Wild was an active advocate for highly gifted students and campaigned against what he saw as a “trend towards mediocrity”. He improved facilities and resources at Bavaria’s overcrowded universities and strengthened research groups through initiatives designed specifically to propel them to the forefront of international research. In 1989, Wild moved to Bonn to take up the position of Director General of the German Space Agency (DARA). His main task was to develop and concept-proof a new form of managing German space exploration.

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Curriculum vitae

1989–1993
Director General of the German Aerospace Agency DARA

1986–1989
Bavarian State Minister of Science and Arts

1980–86
President of the Technical University of Munich

1979–1981
Member of the German Council of Science and Humanities

1979
Dean of the Department of Physics at TUM

1973–76
Vice President of the University of Bayreuth (as secondary appointment)

1971
Chairman of the structural advisory board of the University of Bayreuth
(1971-73 with the functions of a founding rector) 

1966
Member of the structural advisory board of the University of Regensburg

1961
Call to the Chair of Theoretical Physics at TUM (November 16, accepted)
Call to the University of Freiburg (rejected)
Call for an extraordinary professorship for Theoretical Physics at FU Berlin (January 1, accepted)

1960
Habilitation (postdoctoral teaching qualification) in theoretical physics at the University of Heidelberg

1955
Doctorate (Dr.rer.nat) at LMU Munich with a thesis on „Tröpfchenmodell des Atomkerns und Zweikörperkraft“ (summa cum laude)

1948–1953
Studies of physics at LMU Munich

1948
Abitur (high school diploma); Bavarian state sholarship for highly gifted students

Selected awards and honours

1998
Bavarian Order of Merit

1991
German Federal Order of Merit, 1st Class

1991
Commander's Cross of the Order of St. Gregory for contributions to the development of the University of Eichstätt

1989
Albertus-Magnus-Medal of the city of Stadt Regensburg

1977
Honorary Senator of the University of Bayreuth

Research: Theoretical nuclear physics

Wolfgang Wild’s research was centered on theoretical nuclear physics. In 1959, together with Hans Jörg Mang, he was able to apply a theoretical shell model to real atomic nuclei. Between 1965 and 1977, at the TH Munich (later to be renamed TUM), he led a very active research group focused on the microscopic structure and excitations of atomic nuclei. Based on the theory of finite Fermi liquids, this group developed a standardized description of collective excitations in nuclei, which has since been confirmed by empirical research.

Wild completed his undergraduate degree in 1953 and doctorate in 1955 at the LMU in Munich. He then worked at the TH Munich under Heinz Maier-Leibnitz and later in Heidelberg under Hans Jensen, who went on to win a Nobel prize. In 1961, the TH Munich appointed him as full professor of theoretical physics.

Further Information

Literature on and by Wolfgang Wild

Fuchs M: „Wolfgang Wild (geb. 1930)“. In: Technische Universität München. Geschichte eines Wissenschaftsunternehmens. Bd 2. Ed.: Herrmann WA. Berlin: Metropol 2006: 924–926. (View title in university library)

Wild W: Begreifen und Gestalten. Wissenschaft verändert unser Leben. Herford: Busse Seewald, 1989. (View title in unviersity library)

Wild W: Technik für eine lebenswerte Zukunft. Vortrag auf der Jahresmitgliederversammlung des Vereins der Bayerischen Metallindustrie e.V., Bezirksgruppe München-Oberbayern am 12. Oktober 1983 in München. München: Verein der Bayerischen Metallindustrie e.V., 1983. (View title in university ibrary)

Wild W: „Kernkräfte und Kernstruktur“. In: Physikalische Blätter. 1977, July (I), August (II). (Open Access: Part 1, Part 2)

Further literature on and by Wolfgang Wild: