Events - 25.05.2019 - 00:00 

Dies academicus 2019 with Federal Council Ignazio Cassis

The University of St.Gallen (HSG) celebrated the 2019 dies academicus with guests from politics, academia, business and the general population. At the HSG’s greatest day of the year, four honorary doctorates were awarded: Prof. Dr. Andreas Kley was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law, Prof. Dr. Charles Kupchan received an Honorary Doctor’s Degree in Political Sciences, Prof. Dr. Ann Tarca was appointed an Honorary Doctor in Economic Sciences and Prof. Dr. Alice Kaplan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences. Dr. Kurt Weigelt is the new Honorary Senator of the HSG. In addition, three research projects were honoured with the HSG Impact Award, and further prizes were awarded for achievements in science and teaching.
Dies Academicus HSG St.Gallen

Guests from politics, academia, business and the general population attended the HSG’s greatest day of the year, the dies academicus. Famous guests from near and far included Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the President of the Cantonal Government and Chairman of the University’s Board of Governors, Stefan Kölliker, Mayor and University Governor Thomas Scheitlin, Councillor of State Paul Rechsteiner, Canton Ministers Bruno Damann, Marc Mächler, Fredy Fässler and Alfred Stricker (Appenzell Ausserrhoden), as well as numerous representatives of 13 universities from home and abroad. 

Regional roots, international presence

The ceremonial part was opened by President Thomas Bieger, who spoke about “Regional roots and international presence thanks to trust”. Looking back on the past academic year, Thomas Bieger mentioned some milestones. Thus the cantonal bill concerning the Joint Medical Master, which in cooperation with the University of Zurich and the St.Gallen Cantonal Hospital will enable students at the Master’s Level to take up their studies in medicine from Autumn Semester 2020, was adopted by a majority in June 2018. A second voting success was registered in February 2019 with the adoption of the IT education offensive, which includes the establishment of a School of Information and Computing Science at the HSG.

Furthermore, President Thomas Bieger referred to the consequences of digitalisation on teaching. Thus new didactic forms had become noticeable and visible in teaching at the University of St.Gallen thanks to  initiatives such as the Teaching Lab and the Maker Space. While the cantonal voting public’s decision regarding the Platztor campus was still outstanding, a further milestone had already been reached with donors’ pledges for the new Learning Center of more than CHF 50m to date.

Having mentioned these successful projects, which are fundamental to the future development of the University, Thomas Bieger also addressed less gratifying incidents related to secondary employment, expenses and institutes’ way of dealing with resources generated by themselves. In order to tackle these problems and regain lost trust, the University had initiated an extensive package of measures. To conclude, Thomas Bieger asked the audience to support the HSG on its path towards the renewal and improvement of processes, since it would only be with society’s trust that the HSG could prosper in the long term and fulfil its role as an important educational institution for the region.

Disorder and new order in society and the university

Complexity in the world was on the increase, and universities, too, were being challenged, said Student Union President Yannik Breitenstein in his address. Constant change was becoming the state of normality. This raised the question as to the university’s role in society and how the HSG would want to position itself in the future, said Breitenstein. On the occasion of the dies academicus, Breitenstein presented some possible answers to these questions from the students’ perspective.

A new honorary senator and four new honorary doctors

  •  Dr. Kurt Weigelt, the former Director of the St.Gallen-Appenzell Chamber of Industry and Commerce, was awarded an Honorary Senatorship. “The University honours Dr. Kurt Weigelt for his services to Eastern Switzerland, particularly in the field of education and business, as well as for his impulses regarding the feasability study 'Studienschwerpunkt Informatik'.”
  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Kley, Full Professor of Public Law, Constitutional History and the Philosophy of Law and Government at Zurich University: “The University of St.Gallen thus honours a personality who has a distinguished record with his research work on political rights in the Confederation and the cantons, as well as on the history of public law, and whose independent voice inspires people to engage in a critical reflection of government and law.”
  • Prof. Dr. Charles Kupchan of the Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Department of Government at Georgetown University, USA: “The University of St.Gallen thus honours his outstanding research in the field of international affairs and his achievements in public services concerning the promotion of global stability through close transatlantic relations and an international order based on democratic values, human rights and binding rules.”
    Prof. Dr. Ann Tarca as a member of the International Accounting Standards Board: “The University of St.Gallen thus honours her outstanding work in the field of international accounting and standard setting."
  • Prof. Dr. Alice Kaplan of Yale University, USA: “The University of St.Gallen thus honours an important personality in the field of French studies, but her dedicated research into fascism, antisemitism and racism, which has an impact on the general public far beyond the confines of her elite university, also deserves our respect.”

Outstanding research and achievements honoured

Three particularly innovative and relevant research projects of social and economic significance were honoured with the HSG Impact Award, which was conferred for the second time this year: the project of  Prof. Dr. Roland Hodler and Dr. Mirjam Anna Brüderle, “Impact of Oil Spills in Nigeria on Neonatal Deaths”, the research project “Success factors in job retention among employees with mental illnesses (SVA)” of Prof. Dr. Stephan Böhm and his team, as well as the “Data-Driven Platform for Sustainable Mobility” of Prof. Dr. Felix Wortmann, Andre Dahlinger, Ben Ryder, Bernhard Gahr and Mathieu Chanson. The Fondation Latsis Internationale, Geneva, annually awards a generous prize at selected universities for the purpose of promoting young researchers. The 2019 Latsis Prize went to Prof. Dr. Beatrix Eugster.

The Latin America Prize for doctoral theses at Swiss universities, which is awarded by the HSG’s Fund for the Promotion of Research into Latin America, went to Dr. Micaela Díaz Rosaenz and Dr. Annatina Aerne.

The HSG’s Student Union awarded two prizes: the prize for excellent teaching – the Credit Suisse Award for Best Teaching – went to Dr. Andreas Wittmer, Permanent Lecturer in Business Administration with special focus on Aviation. The Mentor Prize was awarded to the University of St.Gallen’s Real Estate Department.

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