Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen (German: Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, sometimes called the "Eberhardina Carolina") is a public university located in the city of Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is one of Germany's oldest universities, internationally noted in medicine, natural sciences and the humanities. In the area of German Studies (German: Germanistik) it has been ranked first among all German universities for many years. Tübingen is one of five classical "university towns" in Germany; the other four being Marburg, Göttingen, Freiburg and Heidelberg. The university has many Nobel laureate alumni, especially in the fields of medicine and chemistry.
Currently, around 22,000 students are enrolled. The 17 hospitals in Tübingen affiliated with the university's faculty of medicine have 1,500 patient beds, and cater to 66,000 in-patients and 200,000 out-patients on an annual basis.
The University of Tübingen was founded in 1477 by Count Eberhard V (Eberhard im Bart, 1445 - 1496), later the first Duke of Württemberg, a civic and ecclesiastic reformer who established the school after becoming absorbed in the Renaissance revival of learning during his travels to Italy. Its first rector was Johannes Nauclerus.
Its present name was conferred on it in 1769 by Duke Karl Eugen who appended his first name to that of the founder (Karls being the possessive form of Karl). The university later became the principal university of the kingdom of Württemberg. Today, it is one of nine state universities funded by the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg.
The Main Building 'Neue Aula' in July 2007
The University of Tübingen has a history of innovative thought, particularly in theology, in which the university and the Tübinger Stift are famous to this day. Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560), the prime mover in building the German school system and a chief figure in the Protestant Reformation, helped establish its direction. Among Tübingen's eminent students (and/or professors) have been the astronomer Johannes Kepler; the economist Horst Köhler (President of Germany); Joseph Ratzinger, former Cardinal and currently Pope Benedict XVI, poet Friedrich Hölderlin, and the philosophers Friedrich Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. "The Tübingen Three" refers to Hölderlin, Hegel and Schelling, who were roommates at the Tübinger Stift.
The university rose to the height of its prominence in the middle of the 19th century with the teachings of poet and civic leader Ludwig Uhland and the Protestant theologian Ferdinand Christian Baur, whose beliefs and disciples became known as the "Tübingen School" and which initiated historical analysis of Biblical texts, an approach also generally referred to as the Higher criticism. The University of Tübingen also was the first German university to establish a faculty of natural sciences, in 1863. DNA was discovered in 1868 at the University of Tübingen by Friedrich Miescher. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, the first female Nobel Prize winner in medicine in Germany, also works in Tübingen. In Tübingen the faculty for economics and business was founded in 1817 as 'Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät' and was the first of its kind in Germany.
In 1970 the university was restructured into a series of faculties as independent departments of study and research after the manner of French universities.