The Second Republic
De-Nazification and a new Start
In the course of the de-Nazification 23 out of 27 professors as well as 37 lecturers (associate professors and honorary lecturers) at the University of Natural Resources were released. This also caused a limitation of the institute; five chairs were deleted without replacement.
The problems with staff, amongst other things, were mainly solved by falling back on lecturers who had been removed due to political or racial reasons in 1938 (provided that this was still possible).
The establishment of a forth field of study, zymotechnology, in June 1945, could not have taken place at a more extraordinary point in time. In cooperation with leading members of the food industry and the support of the young Austrian educational administration, this expansion of the educational opportunities could be enforced. The professorship for “Angewandte Mikrobiologie und biologische Untersuchungsmethoden” (Applied Microbiology and Biological Research Methods) of Ordinarius Armin Szilvinyi was a hub for teaching and research for this young field of study.
In the course of the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the University of Natural Resources, a weeklong University Festival was held from May 31st to June 5th 1948. In his speech, Rector Anton Steden suggested the establishment of an “Österreichische Akademie der Land- und Forstwirtschaft” (Austrian Academy of Agriculture and Forestry) with four sections, agriculture, forestry, land management, and zymotechnology. This idea, however, did not appeal to all.
The 50s were characterized by a dramatic decrease in student numbers. Only from 1956/57 onwards, a slower but constant increase of student numbers could be seen.
On the occasion of the inauguration of Prof. Julius Kar on December 9th, 1960, the then Minister of Education Heinrich Drimmel symbolically consigned the “Wilhelm Exner-Haus”. The leasing and the adaptations of the former hospital of the Viennese Mercantile Community created space for 7 of the 28 institutes, the university library, eight lecture halls and drawing studios as well as several laboratories.
The Higher Education Act in 1966 served as the basis for the laws of 1969 on the fields of study at the University of Natural Resources. The following fields of study had to be established: agriculture, forestry and forest product, environmental engineering and water management as well as food technology and zymotechnology. Among other things, the awarded academic titles were also determined, namely “Diplom-Ingenieur” (Dipl.Ing.) and “Doktor der Bodenkultur” (Dr. rer. nat. techn.). A thesis became a requirement for graduation.
In October 1972, the University of Natural Resources celebrated its 100th anniversary amidst numerous performances, lectures and commemorative events. Three years later – based on the new University Organization Act which took effect on October 1st, 1975 (UOG 75) – the formerly called “Hochschule” was turned into the “University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences”. Those planned faculties corresponding to the fields of study, however, were not established. BOKU decided to have divisions as organizational units.
In 1975, BOKU could move into a new university building – the original building of what is Schwackhöfer-Haus today. Back then, it was an experimental steel building by Anton Schweighofer and Wolfdietrich Ziesel, which had been granted the European steel building award in 1974. Due to problems with rust and asbestos, this building had a very short lifespan. It was completely renovated and extended between 2002 and 2004.
In the 1980s, BOKU established two new research centers; one for ultrastructure research, today’s Department of NanoBiotechnology and the Center for Environmental Studies and Nature Conservation, today’s Institute for Nature Conservation.
Ingeborg Dirmhirn, who had worked as a professor for bioclimatology at Utah State University in Logan since 1968, was appointed as the first female professor at the University of Natural Resources. Under her management, the new Institute for Meteorology and Physics was established. In appreciation of her merits, the Equal Opportunities Working Party at BOKU launched the Ingeborg Dirmhirn Sponsorship Prize for gender specific theses and dissertations after her death in 2008.
In 1984, there was an expansion at the location Türkenschanze: “Türkenwirt” and what is the Adolf Cieslar-Haus today. After the relocation of the Women’s Hospice to the Hanusch Hospital and intermittent use by the Vienna International School, BOKU could use the building in Peter-Jordan-Strasse 70 for its university purposes.
Along with the University Organization Act (UOG) of 1993, the universities got a new institutional framework which aimed mainly at providing more autonomy, after having been granted partial legal competence in 1988. After the UOG 93, the management of the university is now in the hands of the Rector and a newly formed senate and is supported by the Vice-Rectors and a University Advisory Board.
Over the last decades of the 20th century, BOKU could improve the precariousness of its room situation; a problem that had been present since the 1980s due to rapidly increasing numbers of students. The institute building Muthgasse I (Emil Perels-Haus) was opened in 1991. Five years later, Muthgasse II (Armin Szilvinyi-Haus) was handed over to BOKU. When it came to the conception of these buildings, a rational university planning was executed from the beginning – a novelty at BOKU.
Not only was there construction work for new buildings, but also the already existing buildings could be renovated and modernized. In 1996, after three years of work, the refurbishment of the Exner-Haus was completed; the commission for the renovation of the Simony-Haus – also referred to as “Haus der Landschaft” (House of Landscape) – occurred in 1998.
At the beginning of the 1990s, a fifth field of study at BOKU was established. The pilot program, Landscape Planning and Landscaping, was transferred in 1991 into the new study field Landscape Planning and Environmental Studies.
In the field of research, a main event in the 1990s was the opening of the IFA Tulln – an interuniversity research institute for agrobiotechnology – on October 1st, 1994. This is an example of the successful cooperation of three Viennese universities (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, University of Veterinary Medicine and Technical University) as well as three regional authorities (Federal Ministry, Office of the Lower Austrian Provincial Government and the City of Tulln). Since UG 2002, the research center has been under the management of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences and as Interuniversity Department for Agrobiotechnology, it is one of the 15 departments at BOKU.
In 1997, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences celebrated its 125th anniversary and, for this reason, held its first “Open House”.
The new Millenium
On January 1st, 2004 BOKU, along with all other Austrian universities, was granted complete independent legal status, according to Universitätsgesetz 2002 (UG 02). The management has since been in the hands of the Rectorate (Rector and a maximum of four Vice-Rectors) and the newly founded University Council. The Senate mainly has participation rights in the development of organizational and developmental plans of the university, as well as competences with regards to study matters, alongside the duties to enact the University Statute and draw up a shortlist of candidates for the election of a Rector. The old Fachsenat became ineffective and the 40 university institutes were merged into 13 departments.
From the academic year 2004/05 onwards, all study programs were transformed into bachelor’s and master degree programs.
Just under a quarter of a century after the first female professor was appointed at BOKU, on October 1st, 2007 Dr. techn. Ingela Bruner took over the management of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences. Not only was she the first female Rector at BOKU, but she was also the first such Rector at a state university in all of Austria. In January 2009, Ingela Bruner suspended her contract with the University of Natural Resources by agreement. In December 2009 the university Senate elected Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Martin Gerzabek as the new Rector. He had already been managing director since January 21st of the same year.
By the end of October 2009, there was the opening of the Vienna Institute of BioTechnology (VIBT) of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Muthgasse (Muthgasse III), which offers 24,000 square meters for university and private research, development and education.
In January 2005, the Alumni Association was founded. It aims to provide one central contact point for graduates of the university and serves as networking basis for alumni associations already in existence.
Rupert Seidl was the first BOKU graduate to receive his doctorate under the auspices of the Federal President of Austria Dr. Heinz Fischer (promotion sub auspiciis praesidentis rei publica), who congratulated him on his success on January 28th, 2008.
In the summer of 2009, BOKU participated in the project “KinderUni” (KidsUniversity) for the first time, which had been initiated by the Kinderbüro of the University of Vienna. BOKU offered lectures, workshops and excursions.
May 12th, 2010 was the first entire day that was dedicated to teaching, and included lectures, workshops and a panel discussion on the topic.
In the spring of 2011, the location Tulln with its university and research center UFT was extended. The grand opening took place September 29th, 2011 and was conducted by Province Governor Dr. Erwin Pröll.
At the beginning of February 2012, the symposium “140 Years University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences – Quo Vadis University/ies?” took place.
With 76 full professors, 2013 had the greatest number of ordinarii in the history of the BOKU thus far.
The infrastructure of the central location of BOKU is being extended distinctively in the coming years. This holds true both for the refurbishment of the Mendel- and Liebighaus, the new construction of Türkenwirt as an innovative and open house for students and instructors, including a cafeteria and lecture halls, as well as the building of an auditorium center and the further development of the houses for students. Due to the rapid increase in the number of students, an adaptation of the room capacity is in urgent need in order to provide an appropriate infrastructure for students and their initiatives, as well as to allow for an expansion of laboratories and institute capacities.
In the spring of 2011, the university management obtained the agreement for a refurbishment of Gregor Mendel-Haus and further improvements for the location Türkenschanze, despite budget constraints. In this process the attic floor of the Liebig wing will be fully expanded. Oskar Simony-Haus will be upgraded, thanks to the expansion of the roof floor and a restoration.
The restoration of the research greenhouses, as well as the new construction of a kindergarten and the garden center will be gone immediately after that.
For the former TÜWI-Haus, there was a Europe-wide architecture competition. It is planned as a Plus Energy House. Essential sustainability criteria include energy efficiency, ecological construction material, façade and interior greening, a sustainable open space, and the optimization of life cycle costs. Ten contestants are invited to compete in a two-phase selection process. Professor Treberspurg was elected chair of the selection panel. The jury meeting is scheduled for the end of February 2014.
For the new construction, a large lecture hall, a cafeteria, areas for the Austrian Student Union as well as for studying are planned. Quite naturally, there are also plan for the indispensable TÜWI eatery including the TÜWI farm shop and various areas for institutions.
In the year 2012, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences could achieve success in two rankings. BOKU ranked among the top 100 universities (rank 51-100) for the subject of Agriculture and Forestry in the “QS World University Rankings by Subject 2012”. Responsible for this success are the high ratings in the field of academic reputation and citation of scientific publications of BOKU. This has already been the second huge ranking success for BOKU in one year –in the Green University Ranking of 2012 (ranking of the most sustainable universities) BOKU has already achieved rank 8 for Europe and 21 worldwide.
The 110th anniversary of BOKU’s research farm in Groß-Enzersdorf was celebrated with a festive event on May 8th, 2013.
In 1903, this research farm in Groß-Enzersdorf was established by the imperial-royal Ministry for Culture and Education and an ensemble of buildings was constructed.
Back then, as well as today the activities at the local level are characterized by high tech solutions. Groß-Enzersdorf is essential for the further development of agricultural engineering, sustainable management methods and areas related to bio-refineries. This is also true for the countless field trials and long duration tests that provide information on slow changes of the soil.
Other construction projects include the erection of a seminar building in the experimental forestry garden “Knödelhütte” (opening at the end of November 2013).
In June 2017, BIG and BOKU opened Austria's first wooden laboratory building at the Tulln site.
As of 1 March 2018, the Institute of Social Ecology (SEC) becomes part of BOKU and finds its new organisational embedding in the Department of Economics and Social Sciences.
Since renovation was not possible, the old Türkenwirt building (TÜWI) had to be demolished. The opening of the new building took place on 1 October 2018. A reinforced concrete skele-ton functions as a statically optimised supporting structure, a façade made of wooden ele-ments as a shell and wooden slats serve as visual and solar protection. In addition to a lecture hall for 400 students, three institutes and the ÖH find space here, as does the mineral collec-tion. Complemented by teaching and learning areas. The new refectory, the TÜWI restaurant with a garden and the farm shop provide catering.
On 12 October 2020, the ceremonial opening of another university building in timber con-struction for BOKU took place. The Ilse-Wallentin-Haus, named after the first woman to earn a doctorate at BOKU in 1924, was constructed by BIG as a low-energy building.
At the beginning of February 2022, Eva Schulev-Steindl became the second woman to head the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences.