Eduard Otto Schulze was born on 14 May 1856 in Buch (Germany) as the son of a teacher. At the age of 15 he became an orphan after his mother and father had died shortly after each other.
Schulze financed his schooling through tutoring. After completing his school education, he began studying philology and history in Halle, but had to interrupt his studies after six semesters due to financial difficulties. After seven years of working as a tutor and educator for Count Recke in Kraschnitz, Schulze took up his studies again, in Breslau.
In 1889 Schulze published his prize-winning dissertation under the title Dutch Settlements: in the Marshes on the Lower Wese and Elbe in the 12th and 13th Centuries (extended new edition 1896 under the title The Colonisation and Germanisation of the Areas between the Saale and Elbe). Schulze pursued further research in Dresden, Nuremberg and Leipzig.
Five years later he married Comtesse Marie von Reichenbach. Schulze then worked as an assistant to August von Miaskowski at the University of Leipzig until von Miaskowski’s death. Due financial reasons, Schulze was unable to complete his planned habilitation. He worked for the Historical Commission in Leipzig until April 1899 when he took up a position at St. Gallen ‘Handelsschule’ (commercial college, today University of St.Gallen).
At Schulze’s time the president of the ‘Handelsschule’ used to be appointed by the school board for an indefinite term. After six years as a professor, Schulze was appointed President and held the office for 17 years. The excessively long term of office led to considerable tension within the university, especially during the First World War.
The number of students increased noticeably in the first years of Schulze’s presidency. In the winter semester of 1904/05, 131 students were enrolled, and 380 listeners attended public lectures. The proportion of international students was particularly high, at times hovering around 50 percent.
The increased number of students lead to the building of new facilities. In December 1909 the decision was made to build a new building on Notkerstrasse 20, and in the spring of 1910 the construction work began. The building was completed on schedule and in strict compliance with the allocated budget, and the new building was taken into service in autumn 1911.
The new building with the inscription ‘Handels-Hochschule’ was a commitment to the further development of the institution. The will to do so is reflected in the university regulations of 1913.
At the time of the First World War and also later, Schulze headed the German Aid Society in St. Gallen for a total of 10 years. He was later appointed its honorary chairman.