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Before 1848

Efforts to establish an academy/university in Upper Austria date back to the 16th century. Following a private initiative in 1566, the Landstände (representatives of the estates) created a special school for the nobility (Landschaftsschule, “Adeliche Landt-Schuele”) in the Minorite Monastery in Enns . In 1574, the school relocated to a new building in Linz where astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) taught classes from 1612 to 1624. It was In Linz, where Kepler discovered the 3rd law of planetary motion (1618) and completed work on his Harmonices Mundi, one of his most significant books.


After a school for nobility (Landschaftsschule) closed and protestant teachers (professors) found themselves displaced due to anti-reformatory measures in 1624, the Jesuit order managed the Landschaftsschule and introduced their own school for Latin, which was established in Linz in 1608. In 1669, representatives of the estates (Landstände) signed a contract with the “Societas Jesu” to establish “higher level studies” (“Studia altiora”). Subsequently, a curriculum for Law and Theology were added to the main study program in Philosophy. In 1674, Emperor Leopold I. granted the right of graduation. However, this right was never exercised.


The Jesuit college in Linz was forced to close following the abolishment of the Jesuit order by pontifical orders in 1773. Studies continued at a new environment located at the “k. k. Lyceum” with faculties to study of Philosophy, Theology, and Law. A school for surgical studies, introduced in 1775 and extended into a medical-surgical department in 1784, was closed again in 1808.


In 1810, the Imperial Chamber Commission for Studies (kaiserliche Studien—Hofkommision) ordered the abolition of political studies and the study of law. Several petitions sent from Linz attempting to persuade officials to re-establish these faculties remained unsuccessful. The Lyzeum, with faculties for philosophical and theological studies, closed at the end of the 1848/1849 academic year, and the faculty for theological studies was allocated to the diocesan institution (Theologische Diözesananstalt).


1848 - 1945

From 1848 onward, Linz initiated several proposals time and again to establish a:

  • School of Law and Medicine (1848)
  • Technical University in combination with a University of Business (1869/1872)
  • University of Medicine and Law (1876)
  • School of Surgical Studies or Medical School (1887-1901)
  • University of Business in combination with a Faculty of Law (1909)
  • Technical University (1913)
  • University or College (1914)
  • University and College of Business (1917/18)
  • Technical University by way of relocating the German Technical University from Brno (now Czech Republic) to Linz (1918/19)

During the Nazi regime, extensive plans were developed to construct a technical university building in Linz (as part of the “Fuehrer’s capital). However, due to the war, these plans only fruited a temporary solution in which a school for architectural studies was partly established at the Wilhering monastery between 1943 and the end of WW II. Plans to relocate the German technical university from Brno (CZ) to Linz were abandoned in 1938.


1945 - 1965

Beginning in 1949 and up to 1953, plans to introduce technical and engineering studies as part of a Technical University in Linz had been a top priority strongly supported by a privately registered association. For many years, however, the group failed to implement their plans. Beginning in 1951, and despite the lack of required legal recognition, academic lectures from the first year curriculum were held at the Community College of Linz until the end of the academic year of 1955/1956.


After ineffective efforts to establish technical studies in Linz, the idea to create a university of a “different kind” was born and interested parties began to focus on a university offering social and economic studies. When the Austrian Minister of Education pledged his support, representatives from the province of Upper Austria, the city of Linz and other institutions established the “Kuratorium Hochschule für Sozialwissenschaften in Linz” on March 14, 1959.


In 1962 under federal law number 189/1962 (BGBl. Nr. 189/1962), the University Fund of Linz (Linzer Hochschulfonds) was established after the Board of Trustee meeting. The fund committed itself to funding 50% of the costs towards building the university and promised to cover operational costs until 1972. As the institution was financed by the province of Upper Austria and the city of Linz during the 1960s, the Hochschulfond played a key role in the reorganisation of social and economic studies in Austria as well as university administration in Linz.
The University Fund of Linz continues to make considerable contributions to the expansion of the university, as well as provide financial support for general operating costs.


The "Academy for Social and Economic Sciences" is established in accordance with federal law 188/1962 of July 5, 1962 (BGBl. Nr. 188/1962)


Institutes, auditoriums and other university campus buildings - the first of its kind in Austria - were constructed on land where the former Starhemberg Schloss Auhof was located in a still rural section of the Linz district called Dornach-Auhof. Austrian President Adolf Schärf broke ground at a ground-breaking ceremony on July 3, 1964 and by 1969, the following buildings were erected: Institute Building and Lecture Hall I (opened in 1966), University Cafeteria (1967), renovation of Schloss Auhof as an administration building (1967), Institute Building II and the Juridicum building (1969).


Following a recommendation from the Austrian Rector’s Conference (as of January 1, 2008 Universities Austria), the National Assembly passed a bill to add a Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences in 1965 (BGBl. 195/1965). This second faculty constituted a financial challenge for the federal government as well as the University Fund of Linz. Additional buildings were planned (Linser/Perotti planning design 1966): Physics building (opened in 1971), chemistry tower (or TNF tower, opened in 1977 and 1978)


1965 - 1975

On October 19, 1965, the Council of Professors - the highest-ranking university representatives - convened to appoint Professor Ludwig Froehler and Professor Rudolf Strasser as the university’s first Rector and Deputy Rector, respectively.


The introduction of the Studies in Law Program followed in compliance with the federal law number 180/1966 of July 15, 1966 (BGBl Nr. 180/1966). Establishing an academic degree program in Law had been strongly supported by the Council of Professors in Linz and the University Fund of Linz (Linzer Hochschulfond).


The University of Social and Economic Sciences was inaugurated on October 8, 1966. Following a parade which began at the provincial government building to city hall and then to the main square in Linz, the presidents of the University Fund Linz, Governor Heinrich Gleißner and Mayor Edmund Aigner, presented Rector Ludwig Fröhler with a symbolic key to the university building. Afterwards, in Lecture Hall I, the university was officially inducted by Federal President Franz Jonas.


On October 10, 1966, the Faculty of Social, Economic and Legal Sciences began operations offering degree programs in Social Studies, Social Economics (unique in Austria at the time), Economics, Business Administration and Law. Social and Economic Statistics and teacher training in Business and Economics followed in 1968 and 1970, respectively.


The Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences was established in the fall of 1968 and in Winter Semester 1969/1970, the faculty began teaching and research in Technical Mathematics,Teacher Education in Mathematics and Physics and - a first in Austria - Computer Science as well as a shorter degree program for Computing Techniques (as of 1979/80, Data Processing Technology). A year later, an academic degree program in Technical Physics was added.


The Österreichische Hochschülerschaft (Austrian Student Union) established an office in Linz and a branch of the Vienna office was replaced by an elected student council committee in 1967. In 1968, students in Linz participated in protest rallies and demonstrations which were common during that period. Demands for additional democracy and student participation were met in 1969 by introducing the university council (Hochschulkonvent).


1975 - 1996

On October 1, 1975, the University Organisation Act (UOG 1975) came into effect resulting in the establishment of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Economics & Business (SOWI) as well as the the Faculty of Law (RE) - now the third faculty after internal division had been decided in 1971. The University Senate decided in favor of the name “Johannes Kepler Universität Linz” (JKU Linz), after the name had already been selected in 1971.
The UOG 1975 restructured the administration, allowing assistant professors, students, and administrative employees at all levels to take part in decision making.


After the partial opening of the TNF tower (TNF-Turm) in 1977, a degree program in Chemistry was added to the curriculum. During Winter Semester 1977/1978, a teacher education program for chemistry was added, followed by an initially temporary inter-disciplinary industrial engineering program in Chemical Engineering in 1979/80.
An academic degree program in Chemical Engineering was introduced in 1993/1994.


Following the grand opening of the TNF tower (TNF-Turm) on November 22, 1978, the completion of the campus construction phase led to additional expansion plans, including the TNF Lecture Hall Wing (1979), Main Campus Library (1984), Laboratory Building for Microelectronics (1985), Management Center (1991), "Kopfgebäude", (1991), Semiconductor Physics Building (1992) and the USI Sports Center building (1995).


The number of enrolled students continued to increase and during Winter Semester 1984/1985, enrollment exceeded the 10,000 mark. The most popular faculty on campus, The Faculty of Social Sciences, Economics and Business, educated the majority of students and produced 56 % of JKU's total graduates.
After a trial period from 1975 to1985, Business Informatics was introduced as an academic degree program.
International Business (Handelswissenschaften) was introduced in 1992/1993.
University Post-Graduate Programs were established in the early 1980s. Since the 1990s, the selection of courses and programs has progressively increased, particularly at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Economics and Business.


In 1987, the “Research Institute for Symbolic Computation” (RISC) moved to the newly renovated Schloss Hagenberg. As a result, additional institutes, a University of Applied Sciences, and a few companies moved into the building which is now “Softwarepark Hagenberg”, a cutting-edge center of technology.


In 1990, the University Fund of Linz supported the introduction of Mechatronics into the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences. During Winter Semester 1990/91, the department created an academic degree program in Mechatronics. The program was initially conceived to be temporary but then became incorporated into the regular program in 1995/96. In cooperation with VOEST-ALPINE and other companies, ten chairpersons and one special chairperson were selected to act as a decision-making body.


During the 1990s, international cooperation efforts became increasingly important. Existing contact with international universities was intensified within the context of partnership agreements designed to support international student exchange and faculty exchange. After the fall of the so-called “Iron Curtain”, international cooperation was also pursued with universities located in Central and Eastern Europe. The ultimate goal was to have a partnership agreement with at least one university in every country. The importance of international relations was underscored by introducing a Vice-Rector for International Affairs in 1996.


In 1991, the Austrian Ministry of Education established a Center for Distance Learning at the University of Linz, enabling students in Austria to access the FernUniversität Hagen in Germany. Together with Study Centers located in Bregenz, Steyr, Vienna, Rottenmann, Saalfelden, Villach - as well as with other partner institutions - the Center for Distance Learning supports the needs of distance-learning students and has been involved in the development of distance learning programs and advance education programs which incorporate new media since 2001.


Based on a mutual initiative started by the Upper Austrian government, the City of Linz and the JKU established the Linz Center of Supercomputing (LIZENS) in 1992. Computing equipment, such as high-performance computers, laboratory facilities for visualization, and specific expertise for conducting complex numeric simulations were provided by the R & D departments of Upper Austrian companies and made available to university researchers.


The establishment of the Institute for Semiconductor Physics in 1990 and the grand opening of the Semiconductor Physics Building in 1992 were strongly supported by the Upper Austria government and the City of Linz. This support significantly increased the resources made available to the institutes and also lead to the successful on-campus launch of the Austrian Center of University Semiconductor Research (= Österreichisches Zentrum der universitären Halbleiterforschung).


1996 - 2003

The Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU Linz) was one of the first universities in Austria to incorporate the University Organisation Act of 1993 (= Universitäts-Organisationsgesetz 1993) which led to more organisational autonomy. This “new autonomy” was the basis to immediately intensify existing co-operation with the Upper Austria government (mainly co-operation in the field of technology) as well as with private companies and other research funding institutions. These collaboration efforts were mostly carried out with university institutes possessing “restricted legal capacity”. A direct result was the special research area “Numerical and Symbolic Scientific Computing (1998), several K-Plus Centers (1999 and onwards), the Johann Radon Institute for Applied Mathematics (2003), as well as additional Christian Doppler laboratories, some of which were funded as externally funded research projects.


The continual need for more space required renting external office space and then the subsequent construction of additional buildings to “expand” the campus. In 1997, the independently financed "Bank Building" was officially opened, housing university administration services and businesses such as stores, banks and a cafe on the ground floor. In 2003, the "Hochschulfond Building" was opened. Third-party institutes and external university research facilities rented space in the building and have now been integrated on campus.


Between 2000 and 2002, new curricula came into effect in compliance with major structural changes in degree program regulations. Previous Diploma degree programs in Statistics, Technical Mathematics, and Computer Science were divided into Bachelor's and Master's degree programs, whereby three Diploma degree programs in Natural Sciences, Industrial Mathematics and Computer Mathematics were created in 2003. In 2001, a comprehensive Business Management program was also established, integrating Business Administration, Economics and Commercial Sciences. In 2002, Teacher Education Programs in Computer Science and Information Management were also added.


In addition to defining a strong mission statement for the JKU and its three faculties (1996 – 1999), individual faculty strategy plans and an overall strategy for the JKU regarding research, teaching and advanced education were developed between 2001 and 2003. These were initiated in anticipation of the change in requirements in compliance with the UG 2002 and served to emphasize future priority programs and fields of excellence within the context of the university’s research profile.


JKU is a forerunner in administrative innovation. The KeplerCard was the first student ID card containing an integrated chip developed in cooperation with private companies and introduced during the 1998/99 academic year. In 2003, KUSSS (Kepler University Study Support System), the university’s comprehensive e-learning platform based on open-source software, was introduced. In October 2003, JKU launched Austria’s first “wireless campus” with campus-wide wifi access.


After a four year trial-and-error period and successful re-design, the Multimedia Diploma Degree Program in Law was launched during the 2002/2003 academic year. The online degree program is offered globally. Many students have taken advantage of being able to earn a law degree online and as a result, the number of students enrolled at the Faculty of Law skyrocketed.


Socio-political priorities at the JKU include “the support and advancement of women in the workplace and gender studies” as well as “integration and advancement of physically challenged individuals”. As a result, corresponding campus facilities were created and existing facilities were enlarged. The inter-faculty Institute of Women and Gender Studies and the Department for the Advancement of Women emerged from an inter-university central coordination unit for Women’s Studies founded in 1993. In 2000, together with the University of Technology in Vienna, the Inter-university Institute for Information Systems was established in support of visually impaired students. The project was originally a pilot project “Computer Science for the Visually Impaired” at the JKU in 1991. The institute was then re-named Institute of “Integrated Studies”.


The association "FORUM Studium & Beruf" was created in November 1999 to help students transition from college to a career, improve placement services and maintain contact between the JKU and its alumni. The association includes a Career Advising Center, JobNET database and an alumni association. In 2001 the association was re-named Kepler Society and the Career Center opened its doors on campus in the fall of 2004. Since 2010, the JKU alumni and career service center have been a part of the university.


In 2003, JKU began to draft a master plan for the phased construction of the JKU Science Park. The new buildings were designed to relocate and house the Institute of Mechatronics and other institutes as well as expand the campus and support closer cooperation with external research facilities to advance the fields of Mechatronics, Computer Sciences, and other fields of engineering and natural sciences. In 2005, the team "caramel architekten" won the architectural bid and after completion of the detailed plans, a ground-breaking ceremony for the first of five buildings (Mechatronics) took place on May 11, 2007.


2004 - 2013

In compliance with the Austrian Universities Act 2002 (UG 2002), on January 1, 2004, the JKU was administratively released from federal government administration, fundamentally reformed, and transformed into a publicly authorized institution with full legal capacity and a corporate-like structure. This change has given the university more autonomy and, at the same time, has curtailed government co-determination in its general business affairs. The re-organization of the JKU Linz includes centralized university management and administration (with a new supervisory body, the “University Council”). A separate administration unit responsible for all degree programs and general education affairs was also implemented. The institutes were retained as basic units for research and teaching. From this point onwards, the remaining institutes continued to differentiate themselves from each other in basic structure and the faculties took on new roles by functioning as coordination centers.


In 2004, the first joint academic degree programs were created and introduced: Molecular Biology Program in cooperation with the University of Salzburg (start in 2004); the dual graduate degree program “Master’s of Science in Industrial Mathematics” was initiated one year later in cooperation with the University of Technology in Eindhoven and Kaiserslautern (2005); the Bachelor’s and Master's degree program Biological Chemistry with the University of Budweis (2007, 2010); the Master’s degree program Comparative Social Policy and Welfare with universities in Tampere and Vilnius (2008), Global Business with universities in Victoria, Canada and in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (2010), Digital Business Management with the Universities of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria (2011), and Web Sciences with the University of Art and Design Linz (2011), financially supported by the Upper Austrian government and City of Linz) and the dual Master's degree programs "Global Business Russia/Italy" with universities in Nizhny Novgorod and Bergamo (strongly supported by the Upper Austrian Federation of Austrian Industries), and the "General Management Double Degree ESC Troyes - JKU Linz" (both in 2013) as well as the PhD Program in Economics with the University of Innsbruck (2009).


In response to the driving demand of practitioners, the Faculty of Law has created new academic degree programs, expanding the number of programs in regards to the undergraduate degree program in Business Law (2006), the graduate degree program "Legal and Business Aspects in Technics" and the program Taxation (2011).


The Faculty of Social Sciences, Economics and Business is transforming all Diploma degree programs (aside from Business Education) to conform with the 2009 Bologna structure. New graduate degree programs such as General Management (2010), Economics (2010), Management and Applied Economics (2010), and Finance and Accounting (2011) have been introduced as well as inter-university degree programs.
The blended-learning program Multimedia Studies Service SOWI - MuSSS is mix of online and on-site courses that began in 2009 and the program is growing rapidly.
An initiative funded in part by the City of Linz allowed the JKU to offer additional degree programs in Humanities and Cultural Studies such as a Master's degree program in Political Education (2009) and a Ph.D. program in Humanities and Cultural Studies (2009) - in cooperation with the FernUniversität Hagen - a Bachelor's degree program in Cultural Studies (2010).


Aside from teacher education degree programs, all Diploma degree programs offered by the Faculty of Engineering & Natural Scienceshave conformed to the Bologna Structure. The Faculty offers innovative academic degree programs and dual degree programs such as Bachelor's degree programs in Information Technology (2008) and Polymer Engineering Technologies (2009); Master's degree programs in Networks & Security (2007), Pervasive Computing (2007) as well as Software Engineering (2007), which was merged with Informatics in the Master's degree program in Computer Science; there is also a Master's program in Bioinformatics (2006), Nanoscience and Technology (2008), Biophysics (2008), Polymer Engineering Technologies and Science (2009), Management in Polymer Technologies (2009), Polymer Chemistry (2010), Information Technology (2011) as well Polymer Technologies and Science (2013).
A program for international students at the International School for Informatics (ISI) at the Upper Austrian University for Applied Sciences in Hagenberg began in 2007.


The Virtual Reality Center, one of the most modern research facilities in the field of Virtual Reality and Visualization, opened in 2004. Under JKU management, the Austrian Grid is one of the largest, high performing grid computing systems in Europe in operation since 2005 and upgraded in 2011 with the large mainframe computer MACH (developed with the University of Innsbruck). In 2004, three Christian Doppler laboratories were located at the JKU and by 2012, the number of labs increased to eight. During the new allocation by the competence centers in the COMET Funding Program 2007, the Austrian Center of Competences in Mechatronics received additional funding as a K2 Center. Three competence centers affiliated with the JKU were extended as K1 centers.
Additional research centers and laboratories were created: the Research Studio for Pervasive Computing Applications (2008), the Research Center for Chemistry and Life Sciences (2011) together with the University of Budweis (CZ), the Oracle Research Laboratory at the Institute for Systems Software (2011), the Cloud Computing Center at Softwarepark Hagenberg (2012) with IBM, the JKU Life Science Center (2012), the Linzer Center for Mathematics-Didactics with the PH Oberösterreich (2013) as well as the Polymer Technology Center at the Science Park (2013).


The Linz International Management Academy - LIMAK - was established in 1989 supported by industrial corporations in Linz, special interest groups, the Upper Austrian government, the City of Linz as well as unwavering support from professors at the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Economics and Business. In 2005, the LIMAK became the “Johannes Kepler University Business School”. Since 1998, this internationally acclaimed center for management education has been located at the Bergschlössl in Linz. Together with the Upper Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences, the JKU and LIMAK have established the LIMAK Austrian Business School in 2009. The cooperation effort brings all available potential together and aims to position the school as one of central Europe's leading business schools.


The JKU Development Plan 2006 – 2012 sets medium-term strategies in excellence and expansion focus in research. The 'fields of excellence' in Social and Economic Sciences: Management, Markets and Economic Policy, the Dynamics and Design of Social Systems and measuring-assessment-evaluation; in the field of Law: Business Law, in Engineering & Natural Sciences: Mechatronics, Computational Science and Engineering, Nanoscience and Technology, Pervasive Computing, Chemical Design and Process Development; Interdisciplinary: Information and Communication Systems. The JKU Development Plan 2013-2018 retains much of this focus and includes clustered strategies to further develop the university's 'fields of excellence'.
+ Computation in Informatics and Mathematics
+ Management & Innovation
+ Mechatronics and Information Processing
+ Nano, Bio and Polymer Systems: From Structure to Function
+ Social Systems, Markets and Welfare States
+ Business Law


When the plastics engineering company Borealis located their Austrian headquarters to Linz, the government and local businesses in Upper Austria were quick to provide considerable support in 2006 to introduce new degree programs in Polymer Chemistry and Polymer Engineering Technologies. In 2007, a new department for Polymer Chemistry was added to the exisiting institutes at the university. At this time, the JKU and Montanuniversität Leoben agreed to cooperate in research and teaching with the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi and a year later (2013) a bilateral agreement was renewed and expanded. In 2009 four polymer engineering institutes were established and three new degree programs in polymer engineering technologies were added.


Home to the Mechatronic institutes, Building I at the JKU Science Park celebrated its grand opening in 2009. 2009 also saw the groundbreaking ceremonies for Buildings II and III. Building II (operational since 2011) is home to institutes in Mathematics, Polymer Engineering Technologies, Statistics as well as external research facilities. Building III (2012) houses institutes in Computer Sciences and Business Informatics. Campus expansion continued with renovation work at the Juridicum building and an extension to establish a modern, centralized law library (2010). Increasing enrollment led to the construction of an extension to the University Cafeteria (2012). The RISC extension in Hagenberg was completed and opened in 2013.


After several failed attempts to create a medical school in the 19th century and a rejected proposal regarding a medical school in Linz in the early 70s, in 2008 – following a resolution state and 2006 federal parliament resolution – another major initiative by the medical professionals together with the state of Upper Austria and the city of Linz was begun to establish a medical university or faculty. Following lengthy discussions, in 2012 the Ministry of Science presented "Linz model for a Medical School at the JKU" that would require considerable startup financing in Upper Austria. Research would focus on clinical research on aging as well as providing health services research whereby existing research currently being conducted at the JKU would be also incorporated. Three main hospitals in Linz will join together to help create the university hospital and a private faculty building will be erected. In December 2013, the University Senate and University Council formally approved establishment of the Faculty of Medicine and the final legislative decision is expected to be rendered in February 2014.


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