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The Luebeck Lecture Series

Making the Most of a Generous Gift

Since 1991 the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures has been sponsoring the “Luebeck Lecture,” one of the premier lectures in German Studies in the country. The Luebeck lectures are enabled by the Carolyn Engel Luebeck Memorial Fund, which was established in 1989 from a generous gift presented to the Department by Carolyn’s husband, John B. Luebeck, and her daughter, Stephanie S. (Woodzell) Daniels.

At the time the gift was the largest donation the Department had ever received. The gift was accepted and the endowment approved by the Board of Trustees on June 2, 1989. The proceeds from the endowment were to be used “by the Department of German for lectures and other departmental scholarly activities.” The fund is meant to serve the Department in perpetuity.

Blessed with funding from the Luebeck Fund, the Department at first did not know how to use the money. In the fall of 1990, however, the Department’s Scholarly Activities Committee decided to establish with the distribution from this endowment an annual lecture in honor of Carolyn Luebeck. It was not able to secure someone for the fall of that year, but it did engage one of the most promising young scholars in German, Russell Berman, a professor at Stanford who was teaching that year at Columbia, to deliver the first Luebeck Lecture during the spring term.

Gisela Vitt, who at that time was the chair of the Department of German, summed up the appreciation the faculty felt for the generous gift in a letter to the donor:

The Carolyn Engel Luebeck Endowment represents a tremendous enrichment for the Department of German. And I want you to know, Mr. Luebeck, that we are trying to do the best to deserve this special gift by using it to serve Geman Studies and the interests of our students at OSU.

Since 1991 the Luebeck Lecture has been a high point in the academic year for the Department and a noted occurrence for German Studies in the country. Over the years it has attracted some of the brightest minds doing work in German from across the globe.