The History of HHL

Discover our historical milestones since our re-establishment

Foundation of HHL as 1st academic business school in Germany

Re-Establishment of HHL reviving the core values of 1898

HHL - one of the top business schools in the world*

We’ve reached out to our community and stakeholders: alumni, current students, employees and partners from economy and politics and asked them which memories they have in mind when looking back at those years and what connects them with HHL. Many congratulations, via mail or video, reached us: have a look at some of them here below and find them all on our YouTube Playlist.

1992-1997: Up and Running

Foundation of HHL

On October 2, 1992, the Leipzig Chamber of Commerce and the Society of Friends of HHL (joined later by the Kramer Foundation) founded the GmbH „Handelshochschule Leipzig“ (entry in the commercial register).
HHL is the first university in East Germany in private ownership.
The photo on the right shows f.l.t.r. Hans-Dieter Manegold, CEO Leipzig Chamber of Commerce, Founding Dean of HHL Dr. Dr. h.c. Ludwig Trippen, and Head of the Task Force for the Re-Establishment of HHL Professor Hans Göschel during a press conference in spring 1993.

Founding Dean
Dr. Dr. h.c. Ludwig Trippen

With effect from Jan. 2, 1993 Dr. jur. Dr. h.c. Ludwig Trippen (1927-2016) acted as Founding Dean. Trippen held a doctoral degree in law and was a long-standing member of the WestLB Managing Board and for many years a member of the Managing Board of the Friends of Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster. Thus he corresponded exactly to the visions of the Founding Board of Trustees.
The renowned marketing expert Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Heribert Meffert served as academic advisor in his role as Chairman of the Appointments Committee.

Jahnallee 59 – Our Home Base

In 1993, the government of the Free State of Saxony provided HHL with a building in Jahnallee 59 (formerly DHfK Leipzig) and also assumed the costs for renovation and reconstruction.
The turnkey handover took place in July 1995.
Later, HHL was able to attractively extend a basement and thus gain further teaching space within the building. Today – due to its growth – HHL is spread over two more buildings on the campus grounds.

The first chairs start their work

In 1995, the first chairs were filled with professors.
Prof. Dr. Heribert Meffert (photo on the right) took over the Chair of Marketing.
Prof. Dr. Harald Hungenberg was the first professor to be appointed by HHL. He set up the Chair of Strategic Management and Organization.
The Chair of Microeconomics was led by Prof. Dr. Arnis Vilks from 1995 until January 2022.
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schwetzler has been holder of the Chair of Financial Management and Banking until today.

Welcome to the 1st HHL Diploma Class (“K1”)

On January 31, 1996, the first HHL class (consisting of 15 students) got enrolled in the Diploma Program in Management during a festive event with guests from politics, economics and society.
The students had to have completed their undergraduate studies at another university.
In 1997, HHL opened up its Doctoral Program. The right to confer the doctoral degree (Dr. rer. oec.), granted in 1993, elevated HHL to the level of a university.


First Edition of “HHL News”

In Summer 1997 the first edition of the initially biannual business school journal “HHL News” was published. It reports on diverse events and activities at HHL. The journal gives the HHL community and its stakeholders an insight into a varied and committed university life and informs about upcoming important dates. Since Winter 2003 the journal is published in English.

HHL Alumni Association

Already in December 1997, the first HHL graduates founded the HHL Alumni Association.
The purpose of the HHLAA is to promote the welfare of HHL and to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between HHL and its alumni.
The association helps alumni connect with their alma mater and with fellow graduates through various services, events and activities.


1998-2002: An International and Entrepreneurial Perspective

HHL Brand Getting International

In 1999, HHL sharpened its corporate identity. Among others, the focus was on the international orientation of the university.
“Handelshochschule Leipzig” became “HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management“.

In the new logo, the blue rectangle symbolized the university, and the three dots leading out stood for the students’ entry into professional life – matching the HHL slogan “HHL – Your Entry To Business”.

Dr. Dr. h.c. Ludwig Trippen Appointed Honorary Senator

In October 1999, Dr. jur. Dr. h.c. Ludwig Trippen is appointed Honorary Senator for his services to HHL. Dr. Trippen made the successful start of HHL possible through his tireless personal commitment as Founding Dean of HHL. In addition to building up equity capital, he succeeded in arranging further securities for HHL as well as for the building in Jahnallee. He successfully lobbied for state recognition of the business school. In 1997, Dr. Dr. Trippen took over the chairmanship of the Supervisory Board, which he held until 2001.

European Ivy League (EIL)

The completely student-organized football competition “European Ivy League”, launched in 1997, attracted in 2000 more international teams than ever before.
Besides several teams from other German business Schools, teams from Austria, The Netherlands, Italy, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, the UK, France, Sweden and Finland were welcomed to Leipzig.

The sportive networking event is still organized every year by HHL students.

First Entrepreneurship Lecture

In the winter semester 2000/01, Dr. Thomas Hutzschenreuther (pictured right) held the first entrepreneurship lecture at HHL. The series of events dealt with the planning of startups, focusing on the conception and preparation of business plans as well as their implementation. In addition, issues of business development, in particular business growth, were addressed.
Already in May of the same year, the startup forum Accelerate had its premiere. It was organized by the students of “K10” and to this day brings experts from the startup industry to the HHL campus every year for a mutual exchange.

Start of International MBA Program as Second Study Program

After more than a year of planning, HHL welcomed the first MBA class on campus in October 2000. The 18 “M1” students came from China, Italy, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, the USA, Germany and even Ghana (picture on the right). The  class is a mirror-image of the MBA’s special focus, international management. Prof. Richard Mancke, Ph.D. was appointed Academic Director of the MBA Program. The MBA at HHL is especially designed for internationally-oriented students who have a prior university degree in a non-business specialty and who wish to expand their management skills and know-how.

1st HHL Alumni Homecoming

In September 2001, more than 60 former HHL students met for the 1st HHL Alumni Homecoming in Leipzig. For two days, they discussed, celebrated, exchanged memories and news together on the grounds of the Leipzig Trade Fair. The professional part consisted of a lecture on the future of work in the face of global development trends, followed by three parallel workshops in which the topics of the lecture were discussed in depth. The get-together in the evening brought the graduates together with their HHL professors.

Student Numbers in Fall 2002

  • 320 overall graduates (diploma/MBA programs)
  • 254  overall exchange students from 61 Universities from 29 countries
  • exchange students from USA ranking #1 (9 students)
  • 28 HHL students spent their term abroad at 17 unis in 13 countries
  • 27 exchange students from 20 unis in 16 countries came to HHL


Our International Organizations Network

2003-2008: On the Road to the Top

1st German Business School in an International Ranking

In its issue of Jan 17, 2003, the Financial Times reports that HHL is the first German business school to be included in an international ranking. Thus the newspaper confirmed the potential of HHL to enter the international league of business schools.

In the national Trendence ranking of that time, HHL ranked #1 in comparison to 54 other business schools in all categories, including quality of teaching, international orientation and amount and quality of student activities.

1st German Business School accredited by AACSB

In spring 2004, HHL proudly announced its accreditation by AACSB International. This was not only a sign of the excellence of management education at HHL but also evidence of the international orientation of HHL’s programs and HHL’s successful relationships with its partners and friends, faculty, staff and alumni. AACSB is the leading organization for business school accreditation. The accreditation underlines HHLs’ high quality approach.

HHL was successfully reacredited in 2009, 2014 and 2019.

New Part-time MBA Program

In November 2003, HHL introduced a new academic program to meet the growing demand for part-time business education. HHL’s Part-time MBA Program was the first independently offered part-time program by a private German business school. The impressing profile of the 18 students showed four CEOs, four department heads as well as four students holding doctoral degrees . The picture on the right shows the happy “P1” graduates.


1st Beta Gamma Sigma Chapter in Germany

In December 2004, the first chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma was established at HHL during an official ceremony. 26 graduates as well as professors were welcomed as the founding members. Beta Gamma Sigma is and association of the best graduates of AACSB accredited business schools. The network society was founded in 1913 and counts more than half a million  members worldwide – among them many in leading management positions.

New Master of Science Program

In September 2006, HHL successfully launched a new Master of Science program. The 18-month program is delivered in English and designed for students with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in business administration or economics. Until today, the program includes a term abroad, company-related projects and internships. It equips students not only with business knowledge but also with key qualifications such as communication skills, critical reasoning and team work. The M.Sc. program was accredited by the renowned German agency ACQUIN. Along with the so called Bologna Process, the new M.Sc. program replaced the previous diploma program to ensure international comparability of HHL’s standards and quality.

Europe’s 1st International Negotiation Challenge

Since it’s refounding, HHL has been a pioneer in researching and teaching the subject of negotiation in Germany. It was one of the first business schools with negotiation courses integrated into all its academic programs. The idea of inviting students of the world’s best business and law schools to Leipzig was suggested by MBA lecturer Dr. Remigiusz Smolinski (photo on the right), who meanwhile became a professor at HHL. In April 2007, teams from 12 countries from 5 continents competed at HHL in several negotiation rounds. The winner was the Harvard Law School team.

HHL Executive Starting off Successfully

2007 was a very successful year for the HHL Executive the focus of which lies on the further education of management executives. The Bertelsmann Senior Management Program took place twice. New seminars and programs were developed and conducted. A modular General Management program is planned and already booked by Volkswagen Sachsen. In September 2007, HHL Executive hosted a high-profile group of Indian senior managers from a management program of HHL’s partner university MDI, Gurgaon.


110th HHL Anniversary Celebrates Tradition and Innovation

On April 11, 2008, HHL celebrated the 110th anniversary of its founding as the first business school in a German-speaking country with an elaborate ceremony in the Congress Center Leipzig with about 900 guests. Among them representatives of the worlds of politics, business, academia and research as well as HHL students, graduates and members of faculty and staff. Among others, guest of honor included the Prime Minister of Saxony, Prof. Dr. Georg Milbradt (picture on the right) and the former Prime Minister of Saxony, Prof. Dr. Kurt Biedenkopf (1930-2021), who received an honorary doctorate of HHL.

100+ Years of HHL History in a Book

On the occasion of the 110th anniversary of HHL, Prof. Dr. Hans Göschel, who taught at the pre-1992 HHL, compiled a foray through the history of HHL Leipzig School of Management with fascinating background information and numerous pictures. Based on the very thorough historic research of the author, the book unfolds a broad panorama of the development of the school from 1898-2008 through its people.

Göschel, Hans: Die Handelshochschule in Leipzig, Leipzig: HHL, 2008

2009-2012: Approved Quality and Growing Network

HHL Re-accredited by AACSB

April 2009: HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management is Germany’s first private university to maintain its accreditation by the prestigious American organization AACSB (Association of Advance Collegiate School of Business). The AACSB accreditation procedure evaluates the entire operations of a business school as well as all its academic programs. An AACSB accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in business education.


General Management Program for Executives

Building on the experiences gained in modulized company-specific programs with Volkswagen and Bertelsmann, HHL Executive set up an open enrollment General Management Program which was launched in November 2009. The first Academic Director was Prof. Dr. Torsten Wulf. The program consists of six 2-day modules within five months and is still offered today.


1st HHL Startup Career Fair

Company presentations are an integral part of life for students at HHL, providing an excellent opportunity to make contacts with renowned companies. In fall 2009, HHL startups had their first chance to present themselves as employers at the 1st HHL Startup Career Fair. Six startups visited HHL and provided an insight into their day-to-day business, the challenges they faced during the formation of the companies, and, of course, career opportunities for HHL students and graduates. Another important intention of the event was to inspire students to start their own business one day. With over 350 startups founded by its graduates (2009: 80), HHL is one of the premier incubators of future entrepreneurs.

ACQUIN Seal for New Part-time M.Sc. Program

The renowned accreditation agency ACQUIN (Accredation, Certification and Quality Assurance Institute) granted the accreditation to a new innovative HHL study program. The Part-time Program in Management was developed with important stakeholders over a period of two years. The review team was impressed by HHL’s openness and the flexible incorporation of suggestions and advice provided by ACQUIN. The first part-time M.Sc. class was enrolled in January 2011.
The full-time M.Sc. program was accredited by ACQUIN in December 2011.

1st Energy Conference by HHL Energy Club

In April 2011 the student-led HHL Energy Club held its first conference in Leipzig. It focussed on e-mobility – implications for business models and infrastructure. Since its foundation in September 2009, HHL’s Energy Club’s declared aim is to foster understanding of energy-related issues beyond the HHL campus. The conference was not only a chance to deepen the knowledge about e-mobility but also to network with companies in the field.
Since then, the conference is organized annually. 

Schmalenbach Building Opened on Campus

In July 2011, HHL inaugurated a new building on its campus. It is part of the Mensa building of the University of Leipzig and was freshly renovated with investments form the Free State of Saxony and Studentenwerk. HHL thus expanded into new seminar and lecture rooms and offices over 700 qm. The building was named after Eugen Schmalenbach (1873-1958) who was one of the first students at HHL in 1898 and later laid the foundations for the academic discipline of business administration in Germany.

New Corporate Design

In Summer 2012 the HHL brand look was relaunched: The merchant “Kaufmann Giese” – a signet falling back on the depiction of a merchant by Hans Holbein, which was already part of the HHL logo in the first half of the 20th century, was integrated into the HHL logo. Also, the newly added year of establishment 1898 stands for HHL’s long tradition.
The new brand colors of HHL are a classic anthracite, a brilliant and intense blue reflecting challenge added by a warm and optimistic yellow. The concept gears to the colors of the City of Leipzig.
The HHL standard logo (picture on the right) unites the national and the international perspectives: Handelshochschule Leipzig and HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management.

Professor Philip Kotler Honored at HHL Marketing Conference

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of HHL since its re-founding, the business school organized an international conference on the topic “Marketing for the 21st Century” on May 21. The panel discussion united guests from business, politics and academia. In addition to a review and the introduction of HHL’s new strategic concept by Dean Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, the granting of honorary doctorates to Professor Philip Kotler, PhD (picture on the right) and Dr. Michael Otto took center stage at the ensuing celebration.

2013-2017: Expansion and Focus on Entrepreneurship

Porsche Supports Chair of Strategic Management

Summer 2013: Sports car manufacturer Porsche is supporting the establishment of a Chair of Strategic Management and Family Business at HHL. The new Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG Chair is held by Prof. Dr. Stephan Stubner who had previously served as the Academic Director of HHL’s Program for International Entrepreneurship. “The new chair is an ideal symbiosis of science and economy and offers young people and managers a facilty to link theory with practical experience”, said Lutz Meschke, then CFO of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. In 2018, the chair was renamed into Chair of Strategic Management and Digital Entrepreneurship to reflect a shift in its focus to digitization.

HHL Once Again  #1 in Startup Radar Ranking

In November 2013, HHL again (following the 2012 top rank) takes first place as the best startup university among all evaluated management schools and other universities with up to 5,000 students in the 2013 Startup Radar of the Stifterverband (Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany).
Since then, HHL received continued recognition as a one of the best places for aspiring entrepreneurs in Germany. Occupying the top spot for the rankings also in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

New Study Location: Cologne

In October 2014, HHL welcomed the first clas of the part-time M.Sc. program at its new study location in Cologne with 28 students. The study location in Cologne is situated at STARTPLATZ  in the central area of MediaPark. STARTPLATZ is an incubator and an attractive meeting point for the startup community in the Cologne area. The location perfectly fits with HHL´s entrepreneurial spirit. The two residential weeks per year take place in Leipzig, the weekend classes are all taught in Cologne.

SPINLAB – The HHL Accelerator Opening

February 2, 2015: After only a few months of preparation, a startup accelerator, SpinLab, is established in cooperation with the Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei and HHL on the former factory premises in Leipzig-Plagwitz. SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator supports innovative founding projects with the implementation and growth of their ventures. In addition to intensive coaching, the founding teams will also benefit from a high-caliber mentoring program as well as numerous contacts to investors, established companies and other founders. The founders may benefit from all offers free of charge during the six-month

1st TEDxHHL Event

A team of HHL students hosted the first TEDx event in Leipzig at Werk 2 – Kulturfabrik Leipzig in October 2015. TEDx – Ideas Worth Spreading is an American non-profit conference format and stands for Technology, Education, Design. Nine speakers, among them actor and journalist Tom Mitchelson, cabaret artist and author Vince Ebert and leadership expert Boris Grundl inspired and fascinated the audience with their ideas and visions. Since then, the conference takes place annually and is solely organized by HHL students.

HHL Forum Presenting The Leipzig Leadership Model

From December 7-8, 2016 the fifth HHL Forum took place under the topic “Rethinking Leadership”. On this occasion, the Leipzig Leadership Model was presented for the first time. Led by the HHL professors Manfred Kirchgeorg, Timo Meynhardt, Andreas Pinkwart, Andreas Suchanek and Henning Zülch, the concept was laid down in a book in German and English language. Thus HHL provides an opportunity to make the discourse available to the business practice, leadership research and instruction while continuing to promote it in its own academic programs and executive education.

Prof. Dr. Stephan Stubner Following Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart as Dean

After six successful years as Dean of HHL, Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart leaves the university in June 2017 to take up the post of Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digital and Energy in North Rhine-Westphalia. HHL alumnus Prof. Dr. Stephan Stubner (photo right) took over the academic leadership of HHL and held the Dean’s office until February 2023.

New Study Location: Munich

Starting in the fall of 2017, HHL offers its Part-time M.Sc. Program also in Munich – on the premises of the Hochschule der Bayerischen Wirtschaft (HDBW). The HHL study location in Munich can be found in the old “Wappenhalle” of the former Riem airport which was the central airport of the Bavarian capital until 1992. The HHL lectures take place in the modernly renovated facilities where the students have an inspiring learning atmosphere.

2018-Today: Digitization and Transfer

Minister President of Saxony Visiting HHL

In April 2019, the Minister President of the Free State of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, visited HHL accompanied by the Minister of Justice of Saxony, Sebastian Gemkow and other members of the Saxon Parliament. The delegation wanted to learn more about the approach to digital transformation and about the cooperation between Leipzig University, HTWK and HHL in this field.

Honorary Doctorate to Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel

On the occasion of the graduation ceremony for the classes of 2019, HHL awarded an honorary doctorate to the then German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her impact on the scientific and professional discussion on leadership and thus her resulting influence on management science. The conferral of the award took place in the presence of 1200 guests in the Leipzig Opera House.


1st European Public Value Conference

Together with the regional public broadcasting station Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR), HHL hosted the first European Public Value Conference in December 2019 in Leipzig. The aim of this conference was to discuss approaches to implement a consequent orientation towards the common good and social concerns in in the management structures and processes of public media organizations. In October 2022, the 2nd European Public Value Conference took place, again in cooperation with MDR.

Revised 3rd edition of Leipzig Leadership Model Book Published

With its core dimensions of purpose, responsibility, entrepreneurship, and effectiveness, the Leipzig Leadership Model provides a non-normative compass for good leadership and was first published in 2016. A newly revised 3rd edition (in German) of the Leipzig Leadership Model book was released in 2019 (2nd edition, 2018, German/English). The new version offers additional insights, e.g. on individual leadership profiles. 

Launch of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Research Group

In 2019 the Strategic Entrepreneurship Research Group under the lead of Prof. Dr. Stephan Stubner and Jun.-Prof. Dr. Dominik Kanbach was launched to strengthen HHL´s position in strategy and entrepreneurship research worldwide. With more than 35 doctoral candidates (as of 2022) it is one of the leading research groups in its field with a broad network of international scholars focusing on top journal publications and practical thought-leadership.

Successful Launch of New Master in Management Tracks: Finance and Entrepreneurship

With the promising start of the newly established Finance Track in the M.Sc. programs in September 2020 we welcomed 28 students (13 full-time and 15 part-time students). Now, they are diving deep into the world of finance with innovative courses such as Entrepreneurial Finance Venturing or Financial Instruments Asset Pricing. Another track was added just 2 years later: In 2022, we launched the Entrepreneurship Track of the M.Sc. program. With that, our entrepreneurial ecosystem, namely the HHL DIGITAL SPACE, is included in our teaching on the academic side.

HHL Digital Space

In 2020, HHL opened the HHL Digital Space as an open platform and incubator to support entrepreneurs not only among the HHL student community but for everyone with a digital business model. The HHL Digital Space is based on the HHL campus in Leipzig and supports early-stage founders together with established companies in their entrepreneurial pursuits with a dedicated 12-week incubation program and workshops. The main goal is to connect founding teams, equip them with business and tech knowledge and empower entrepreneurship.

Experience our community!

Do you want to be part of the HHL community and experience HHL’s unique student life? Then start your educational journey with HHL now!

*Financial Times Global Masters in Management Ranking 2023