Farewell: Nora Wieneke – "The most beautiful job in the world"

2022-07-04 The trained teacher founded the General University Sports as a student and left a lasting mark on it as its director. After more than 40 years at Leuphana, Nora Wieneke is now retiring.

Nora Wieneke ©Anastasia Adasheva
Nora Wieneke in front of the Libeskind building.

It all started with ski gymnastics: in the winter semester 80/81, Nora Wieneke, a student teacher, offered her first courses - at that time still in a municipal sports hall: "The demand was huge, sometimes we had 80 people in the courses." Nora Wieneke was studying the subjects of subject teaching, art and sport and missed a physical activity programme for all students at the then Lüneburg University of Applied Sciences. There was no general university sports centre yet. Nora Wieneke wanted to create one.

The university administration was receptive to her idea and allowed her to use the university's few, small sports facilities. The young programme included volleyball, gymnastics, football, table tennis and swimming. As a trained gymnastics teacher, Nora Wieneke was allowed to lead courses: "There was a teaching pool in the Rote Feld. We were also allowed to train there." But this was also one of the problems: Hall and training times were scarce. General university sports had to share the space with the teacher training programme.

The turnaround came with the move to the campus on Scharnhorststraße, which at that time was still heavily influenced by the Bundeswehr: today's Studio 21 was an armoured hall and the area between the sports hall and today's canteen was a concreted drill ground. The growing university sports demanded more space: "That's how the sports lawn with its sports facilities came into being," Nora Wieneke remembers. She had already completed her teaching degree at the time: "I was lucky that the university management supported my ideas and created a position for me as head of university sports. Today I can look back on wonderful professional years. I had the best job in the world." On the new campus there was now also room for the University Sports Festival, which quickly developed into an important meeting place for employees, teachers, researchers, and students.

The ever-growing team around Nora Wieneke also contributed to the success of the Allgemeiner Hochschulsport. Today, the team includes two full-time employees and about 30 students - plus about 60 trainers: "University sports offers almost 70 types of sports - from floorball to street dance to archery or juggling. It's always been important to me that everyone finds a suitable form of exercise. Sport changes people.

The opening of Studio 21 not only provided much-needed space, but also an important financial source: "We now had regular income. These funds are used to finance the trainers and the student staff in the management area," reports Nora Wieneke. University sport also became more and more sustainable: "A student from the sustainability faculty developed a sustainability strategy for university sport. For example, our jerseys are all made of organic cotton. We have plants that improve the air, sports mats made of sustainable material and a solar system." Nora Wieneke was also a practice actor in a research project at Leuphana called "Educational Institutions and Sustainable Consumption".

However, she has not only targeted students with her offer: Staff Sport offers all employees the opportunity to use one hour of their working time per week for exercise. "During this time, colleagues can get together who would otherwise not meet in the course of their daily work. Sport creates encounters."

Allgemeiner Hochschulsport also supports top athletes: "Students who are preparing for competitions in top sport can train with us free of charge. And we help with communication with lecturers if someone must postpone an exam because of a competition," says Nora Wieneke.

Leuphana is a member of the General German University Sports Association and is well networked there: "For years we have been sending students to the umbrella organisation so that they can contribute their knowledge there and bring new experiences back to Leuphana." Today's University Sports Centre is also present at regional level. Nora Wieneke led the Lower Saxony/Bremen regional conference for four years. In 2015, she and her team won bronze in the nationwide education ranking of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Hochschulsportverband (adh), the umbrella organisation of German university sports institutions with over 200 universities in the country.