Meral Alma donates large-scale painting to HHU and UKD
Press and intranet release
HS 13 A has a new name
For release as of February 8, 2021, also as headline, press release, and in “HHU intern”
Lecture hall at the Faculty of Medicine named after Selma Meyer
Meral Alma donates a large-format painting to HHU and the UKD
Selma Meyer was a pioneer in her field at a time when women were not yet allowed to work as scientists. In 1922, she became the first woman to be awarded a post-doctoral degree in pediatrics and the second to receive a post-doctoral degree at a German medical school. Five years later, she was appointed associate professor of pediatrics at the Düsseldorf Medical Academy. As a Jew, she was stripped of her professorship when the National Socialists came to power in 1933, and was forced to flee Germany in 1939. Germany’s first female professor of pediatrics is now the namesake of the largest lecture hall at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) Medical Faculty.
With 400 seats, 13 A is the largest lecture hall at the university’s department of medicine. The Faculty Council of the Medical Faculty and the Board of the University Hospital Düsseldorf (UKD) decided that HS 13 A should bear the name of this extraordinary doctor, who worked at the Medical Academy Düsseldorf and endured a grievous fate during National Socialism. Particular advocates of this move include former Vice Rector Prof. Dr. Klaus Pfeffer and the holder of the former Chair of Historical Educational Research at HHU, Prof. Dr. Gisela Miller-Kipp, who had been campaigning for the naming since 2018. “With this naming, we honor the extent to which Selma Meyer worked for the good of others. It is also important for us today to facilitate and further improve educational pathways, to break new ground, and to never forget the injustices perpetrated,” explains Prof. Pfeffer.
The words “Selma Meyer Hörsaal” (Selma Meyer Lecture Hall) have been affixed to the vestibule and the lecture hall. The eye-catcher in the lecture hall is a large-format painting (200 x 265 cm) on glass by artist Meral Alma (35), showing a woman with closed eyes and a crown. Prof. Miller-Kipp instigated the donation of this painting as an appropriate tribute to the important Düsseldorf doctor. “With Meral Alma’s work, we have found a motif that fits Selma Meyer’s biography and represents courageous women who confidently and successfully forge their own path in life,” says Prof. Pfeffer.
“Anyone could be that person,” Meral Alma says of her artwork. “The format and the way the painting was crafted stand for the greatness, courage, strength, and also the grace that every person carries within them.” With her painting, which the multi-award winning graduate of the Düsseldorf Art Academy donated in memory of Selma Meyer, Alma wants to set an example for finding one’s own path in life and following it in defiance of all odds and forms of discrimination.
The Rectorate, the Faculty of Medicine, and the UKD express their sincere thanks to the renowned artist for her generous donation of the painting. Owing to restrictions relating to COVID-19, no ceremony is planned for the time being.
Prof. Dr. Selma Meyer (1881–1958)
She was the first German professor of pediatrics. The daughter of a Jewish merchant family completed her training as a music teacher in 1908. A special year, as it was then that the Prussian Minister of Culture issued a decree that allowed women to study for the first time. Without further ado, the 27-year-old caught up on her A-levels and began her medical studies in 1910, graduating with distinction. After training as a pediatrician at the Charité in Berlin and the Düsseldorf Children’s Hospital, she became a senior physician at the Infectious Diseases Clinic in Düsseldorf in 1921. Selma Meyer was the second woman after Adele Hartmann to acquire the venia legend, or post-doctoral teaching accreditation, at a German medical college. Her scientific interests included infectiology and immunology in childhood, blood morphology in humans and animals, and social pediatrics. The Jewish doctor was forced to flee Germany in 1939 and later ventured a new start in New York: at the age of 58, Meyer passed the American state’s medical exams and was able to open a practice in which she treated her patients until the end of her life.
The successful HHU Mentoring Program—one of the largest at a German university—is named after Selma Meyer. Since 2006, it has provided targeted support for female doctoral students, as well as female scientists and physicians who are pursuing further education or habilitation. Mentors support their professional and personal development.
Meral Alma (*1985)
With her multi-part work series “Circus of Life,” begun in 2017, Meral Alma has become known as a painter in a matter of a few years. Alma, who holds a master’s degree from the Heinrich Heine University’s Faculty of Philosophy and is writing a dissertation there, studied fine arts at the Düsseldorf Art Academy from 2010–2018. In 2014 and 2015, she received the advancement award. In 2015, she was selected to create a heart for UNICEF with the “23 International Artists Design a Heart for UNICEF” project. In 2017, Alma was named a master student of Prof. Siegfried Anzinger. She completed her studies with distinction in 2018. Meral Alma has participated in more than thirty solo- and group exhibitions in Germany and abroad in the last four years, including those at Museum K21, Haus der Universität, at municipal galleries, and Deutsche Bank.
Meral Alma is also involved in the “Between Science and Art” project headed by Prof. Dr. Peter Tepe in cooperation with professors from the Düsseldorf Art Academy and the HHU, among others. The project aims to showcase connections between science and the visual arts.
Image caption: Honoring a pioneer: HS 13 A is now named after Prof. Selma Meyer. The painting “Queen” by artist Meral Alma graces the largest lecture hall in the Faculty of Medicine. (photo: Meral Alma)