Günther Purlein
Image: Stefan Bausewein

50 Years – 50 Faces

Günther Purlein

  • 45 years in church service
  • 42 years in ecumenism, retired executive director
  • sessional lecturer in three faculties

My first lectureship assignment was given to me by the then Faculty of Social Work (Dean Prof. Dr. Kestler) in the summer semester of 1986 on the topic of aid for travellers (today it would be about municipal regulatory law and the Bavarian State Penal and Ordinance Law in the area of accommodation for the homeless). Shortly afterwards, the Dean of Business Administration Prof. Dr. Cisek approached me to “win me over to the communicative side of business studies”. I am still active in both faculties today. With the new president Prof. Dr. Grebner, I was able to establish my long-standing “simmering” wish to promote the voluntary engagement of students in the general electives, which is still offered today.

For me, FHWS is ...
the opportunity to get to know young talent and to advocate for the trifecta – higher education institution, employer, future personnel.

What do you appreciate about FHWS?

What is impressive is the open communication from the president through the Dean’s offices and direct colleagues to the service offices for personnel and technology/IT as well as my students.

What was the best decision in your professional career and why? What has changed since then?

In 1984, I had the privilege of reporting on the first self-founded debt counselling centre. Coming from the criminal justice system, where the programme had been called “Resocialisation Fund and Debt Relief Assistance for Prisoners” since the end of the 1970s, I was able to offer the first counselling services “for everyone” with the help of the church associations and the city of Würzburg. The next major step was the amendment of the Bankruptcy Code (FRG) and the General Enforcement Code (GDR) to form the new Insolvency Law (1999). I was able to teach these new rules of the game to the students at FHWS as part of my lectureships.

In 2001, I switched completely from management posts to the employer side. By taking over the management of a limited liability company (ecumenical Christophorus Gesellschaft), I was able to intensify the collaboration with FHWS and the consistent promotion of young talent. With an average of ten interns per year, I was able to get to know and support a number of promising young people.

It was with great regret that I had to accept the cancellation of one practical semester (out of two) as part of the introduction of the “Bachelor” (Bologna Process). For the applied economic and social sciences in particular, this was not the greatest idea from a practical point of view. The study-related, compulsory internship for one semester is now accepted.

What do you think has shaped FHWS the most over the last 50 years?

Each president has (had) a considerable influence on the climate within the higher education institution and the perception from the outside. For example, it is currently possible to take my “Promoting Engagement” course in the Faculty of Applied Natural Sciences and Humanities, where participants are rewarded for their voluntary work. This offer was immediately recognised by all municipal and local institutions. The coronavirus pandemic also led to an extremely rapid expansion of digital options for us. Nevertheless, personal, human contact is indispensable, which is illustrated by the students’ response to in-person courses (“Thank you for today’s course without a Zoom meeting”), especially in the area of communication.

What is your vision of the future for FHWS? What might FHWS look like in 50 years’ time?

I would like to see more practical and timely adaptation of the programme contents to the respective social realities.

What is your insider tip for the cities of Würzburg or Schweinfurt and why?

My tip: Würzburg’s local recreation in the grounds of the Bavarian State Garden Show (from 1990) in the foothills of the Marienberg Fortress hill, where the Main floodplains are connected to the Marienberg.