Campus - 21.05.2022 - 00:00 

Dies academicus 2022 – rethinking the future of the university

After two virtual celebrations, the traditional Dies academicus again took place on the campus of the University of St.Gallen (HSG) on Saturday, 21 May 2022. The celebration was attended by University members and guests from politics, academia and the general public.

21 May 2022. Once a year, the academic celebratory day of the University of St.Gallen brings together friends and former students of the HSG with personalities from academia, politics, business and the general public. This year’s Dies academicus was opened by President Bernhard Ehrenzeller.

Dies academicus Musik

“Sankt Denkplatz”

“Universities provide diversity in unity; at the same time, they are part of a community of values. In addition, universities are places whose impact transcends their communities in the narrower sense of the word,” said President Bernhard Ehrenzeller. In the SQUARE, in particular, the HSG had created a space where teaching and learning were not only intended to be refashioned, but would also increasingly invite people to cross the bridge – towards the inside as well as towards the outside. Latterly, the label Sankt Denkplatz – Saint Place of Thought Leadership – was being displayed on HSG doors – and indeed, the city had been transformed into that with the arrival of the eponymous saint: a place of intellectual energy, a place of thought leadership. The coming 125th anniversary of the HSG should be a year of celebration, but equally a year of reflection on “the future of the university”, in whose discussion all of us were invited to participate, said President Bernhard Ehrenzeller to conclude his address.

Brief video clips provided a retrospective of the HSG year of 2021-2022. With the return of campus life, activities also registered a strong increase at the beginning of Autumn Semester 2021. Highlights were the inauguration of the SQUARE in mid-February 2022 and the launch of the Master’s programme in Computer Science in October 2021, a sustainability course and student project in the context of the National Model United Nations. The 50th anniversary of the introduction of women’s suffrage in Switzerland was also reviewed in the videos.

Digital university, student engagement, excellence

Lukas Zumbrunn acquainted the audience with his perspective on what would occupy the HSG until 2062 – the year of his possible retirement. He emphasised three aspects: firstly, “The digital university is coming,” secondly, “Student involvement favours personal development” and thirdly, “Excellence, from the past into the future”.

Dies academicus Lukas Zumbrunn

The Student Union awarded the Mentor Prize to Dr. Felix Grisard, Chairman of the Board of Directors of HIAG and a member of the HSG Advisory Board, and a Teaching Award to Alexander Gruber, Ph.D.

Three Honorary Doctorates awarded, three new Honorary Senators

An honorary doctorate was awarded to three professors:

  • Prof. Dr. Mike Burkart, Professor of Corporate Governance and Financial Contracting at the London School of Economics and Political Science, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the School of Finance (SoF-HSG) as an internationally significant researcher, particularly with trailblazing work on the influence of shareholder activism and corporate takeovers on a company’s value. Mike Burkart made an essential contribution to understanding how the quality of shareholder protection and the optimal proportion of voting shares impact on takeover results and the quality of corporate governance.
  • Prof. Eileen Fischer, Ph.D., Professor at the Schulich School of Business in Toronto, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Economic Sciences by the School of Management (SoM-HSG) as a leading academic and international voice in the field of qualitative consumer research. Eileen Fischer was regarded as a pioneer in the investigation of relations between consumers, companies and their brand products, as well as the developments of these markets.
  • Prof. Dr. Silvana Tenreyro, Professor of Monetary Policy and International Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science and an external member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Economic Sciences by the School of Economics and Political Science (SEPS-HSG). Silvana Tenreyro is a leading academic in macroeconomic disciplines and a role model for the fact that top-level academic performance can be reconciled with an active involvement in economic policy bodies. She participated virtually in the award ceremony.

The following three personalities were received into the Honorary Senate:

  • The long-time Managing Director of the Startfeld Foundation and the initiator of the educational lab Smartfeld, Dr. Cornelia Gut-Villa was appointed an Honorary Senator of the HSG for her great services and commitment to the location of St.Gallen. In the context of Smartfeld, she does not only foster young people’s future competencies and creativity but also familiarises them with the challenges of the digital age. Cornelia Gut-Villa supports the University in education and training, on the one hand (insight), and in entrepreneurial application, on the other hand (impact).
  • In Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ann-Kristin Achleitner and Dr. Paul Achleitner, the University of St.Gallen receives two outstanding providers of impulses into the Honorary Senate. In 1994, Ann-Kristin Achleitner was the first woman to be habilitated at the HSG. Paul Achleitner obtained his doctorate from the HSG in 1985. “Not only have you shaped institutions, but with your integrity and personal attention, you have been role models for many, particularly the young generation,” said President Bernhard Ehrenzeller in his eulogy. With their “feu sacré”, the couple Ann-Kristin and Paul Achleitner had had an impact on the HSG in research and teaching, in mentoring and in executive education. Their reception into the Honorary Senate was not the conclusion, but the beginning of a further stage of their shared path at and with the HSG.

HSG Impact Awards for three projects

The HSG Impact Awards were also conferred on the occasion of the Dies academicus 2022. For the fifth time, the award went to HSG researchers who have made a particularly valuable contribution to society. More about the three research projects.

Dies academicus HSG Impact Award

Award of the Latsis Prize

The International Latsis Foundation annually honours young researchers at selected Swiss universities. This year, the prize went to Prof. Jamie Gloor, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Diversity and Leadership Science. Her focal research points include the future of work and executives, diversity, artificial intelligence, emotions and humour.

Dies academicus HSG Jamie Gloor

Second HSG Culture Prize 2022

This year, the HSG honours the Solidaritätshaus St.Gallen. This “Solidarity House,” or “Solihaus” for short, is an open house for refugees and migrants from the St.Gallen, Appenzell and Thurgau region. It offers them a daily structure, help with various concerns, spare-time activities and courses free of charge. With various events, the Solihaus also enables personal encounters between refugees and the local population.

The Dies academicus 2022 was concluded by singing Gaudeamus igitur.

Images: University of St.Gallen (HSG)/Hannes Thalmann

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