Dr. Günter F. Thiele during the establishment of the foundation in 2014.
Dr. h.c. Günter F. Thiele is a mentor and patron of PR research at the University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig awarded Günter F. Thiele, (who on February 12, 2014 celebrated his 80th birthday), an honorary PhD in May 2002 in recognition of his contribution to the development of both Public Relations and the PR studies in Germany. He significantly influenced the modern PR consultancy in Germany and is Honorary President of the “Gesellschaft Public Relations Agenturen” e.V. (GPRA).
Günter Thiele was born on February 12, 1934 in Bitterfeld, where went on to complete his “Abitur”. After spending one year as an auxiliary smelter at a copper and lead workshop in Eisleben and Hettstedt he went on to study German, psychology and philosophy at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and earned a diploma from the Faculty of Arts. His career path took him first to journalism, specifically to the Leipzig radio station, transmitter of the GDR radio. After moving to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1959, he worked as a "working journalist" in internal communications at Henkel in Dusseldorf and then as copy chief at the advertising agency R. W. Eggert. From 1968 Thiele was co-owner and CEO of PR agency ABC press release. During the following decades, he built the agency steadily to the largest, market-leading communications service provider in Germany of the time. Among the last 175 employees at locations in Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich were also many of those who have come to make their mark on the industry with agencies through the years right up to today. After selling his agency group to international Eurocom Holding, Thiele has since the 1990s been involved in PR research, which at the time showed the first signs of institutionalization in the German-speaking countries. He was co-founder of the Foundation for the Promotion of PR at the University of Leipzig, whilst additionally furnishing it with generous long-term funding. The Foundation has since appointed Thiele as honorary chairman and awarded the annual “Günter-Thiele-Price” as a way of recognizing excellent student theses in the fields of Public Relations and Communication Management. Since the Foundation was established, the Department of Communication and Media Studies accrued various donations totaling over a million euros – this amount helped fund numerous doctoral scholarships and, for several years, an endowed chair. In addition, the Foundation has helped establish the Academic Society for Corporate Management and Communication, with inter-company and inter-university connections, as a central platform for dialogue between science and practice (on a decision-making level).
In 2014, the Foundation was established as the legally independent “Günter-Thiele-Stiftung für Kommunikation und Management”, based in Leipzig and equipped with long-term prospects/goals. It is committed to the will of the founder and conforms to his impulses and ideals. Without the commitment of Dr. h.c. Günter F. Thiele, the PR Research in Leipzig and beyond would not have the status of international prestige which today offers the staff and students a privileged starting point for their own goals and achievements. Thiele’s wealth of experience, which he outlined and shared in a panel discussion with the current master students some time ago, never fails to inspire. For all of this we owe him a great debt of gratitude.