Never give up: How a university can change, shape and maintain good relations with “its” city – Welcome to Paderborn!

tibor werner ok

Tibor Werner Szolnoki (Germany)

Tibor Werner Szolnoki was born in 1958 in England and went to school in Wolfsburg, Germany. He studied Forestry at the University of Freiburg, with a Diploma thesis at the University of Idaho, Moscow, USA. Since 1990 he has worked at Paderborn University as Head of Press and Communications and Press Officer; he is a Board member of Paderborn University Alumni Organisation, and a Board member of the Advisory Committee of a local radio station. Web:


This session will take a close look at how a university can help shape the growth and development of its home city, with the particular example of Paderborn, which in fifty years has changed from being a relatively small, little-known town to become one of the most prosperous university towns in Germany.

Paderborn was founded in 777 but even in 1939 was still a small city with around 42,000 inhabitants. Some decades later in 1972 Paderborn University was founded starting with only 2,500 students in its first semester. Up to that time Paderborn was known as a conservative, Catholic and rather quiet place with less than 100,000 inhabitants, famous largely for its cathedral. 

Forty five years later the university has more than 20,000 students with five faculties, 2,300 staff, and an annual budget of 204 million Euro. Nowadays, 150,000 inhabitants live in a city connected to the world via motorway, railway and a modern airport, and Paderborn has developed into one the most important IT-locations in Germany, which also houses the world’s largest computer museum. 

What happened between 1972 and 2017 and how did the university work with relevant city institutions to make Paderborn such a success story?