Dr. Dr. h.c. Adolphe Merkle (1924-2012)
Adolphe Merkle was born in 1924 in the bilingual (German/French) canton of Fribourg in the western part of Switzerland and studied economics at the University of Fribourg. Having completed his studies, he went into business in the property sector at the age of 27. In 1952, Adolphe Merkle came across an ailing company called Vibro-Meter. He subsequently bought the company and breathed new life into it under the name Vibro-Meter International AG. The company developed vibration measurement systems – a vital element in the correct functioning of numerous machines used in industry. Adolphe Merkle was the director and sole shareholder of the company for over forty years until he sold it to the Swiss company Elektrowatt AG in 1991. In 2005, he donated four million Swiss francs to the university to support teaching, research, and further education. Much of the donation was used to establish Frimat, the Fribourg Center for Nanomaterials, which works closely with AMI. In late 2007, Adolphe Merkle, then 83 years old, set up the Adolphe Merkle Foundation and donated 100 million Swiss francs to support the University of Fribourg. He explained his motivation as “wanting to give something back to Fribourg, since the university town had given so much to him”.