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Campus - 01.12.2023 - 11:00 

Commitment to volunteer work by HSG students is unique

The Cantonal Day "125 Years of HSG" brought together members of politics, business and the University. The past and future of HSG as well as self-critical thoughts were discussed.

Ann Julie Sevray, president of the Student Union, opened the anniversary event on Wednesday, 29 November, with a welcoming address. She explained what characterises the University of St.Gallen from the students' perspective. The voluntary commitment of the students in around 140 associations with a wide range of topics is unique and strongly characterises HSG. "The campus is always in motion and overflowing with ideas. Networks with connections for life are created here," she emphasised. The quality of the teaching with its reference to practice optimally prepares students for their careers.

Excellence versus image

In a panel discussion chaired by Prof. Dr Claudia Franziska Brühwiler, President Stefan Kölliker, Cantonal Council President Andrea Schöb, President Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ehrenzeller and Ann Julie Sevray discussed the significance of the new University Act, but also the fact that HSG offers proven excellence in many respects and yet has to contend with a poor image time and again.

Andrea Schöb emphasised that it was very important to her that the President's Board be strengthened in relation to the institutions and that internal supervision be improved in the new University Act. Stefan Kölliker was satisfied that entrepreneurial freedom had been preserved. They were part of the basis for the success of the University of St.Gallen. Bernhard Ehrenzeller also expressed his relief that the autonomy continues to exist despite clearly defined lines. He said that the Student Union was very pleased that it would still be able to have its say in the new University Act.

It was no easy task for the panellists to find an answer as to why the internal view of HSG is very positive, but the external view often paints an exclusively negative picture. It was precisely because she was very concerned about this question that she attended a continuing education course at the University of St.Gallen and was positively surprised, explained Andrea Schöb. For her, the question remains as to why all the qualities could not be made more visible to the outside world.

One reason identified in the discussion was that the people of Eastern Switzerland are very modest in comparison and do not like to emphasise their pride and excellence. Stefan Kölliker explained that he hoped the new campus at Platztor would one day contribute to greater visibility and thus a better image among the population. In this context, Bernhard Ehrenzeller hoped that SQUARE would become even more of a centre of thought in order to help solve social problems.

HSG President Bernhard Ehrenzeller and President of the Cantonal Government Stefan Kölliker agree on the benefits that the new University Act will bring to the University, the city and the canton.

Guests in the atrium of SQUARE during the panel discussion on excellence and the image of the University of St.Gallen.

Designated President Prof Dr Manuel Ammann and business education expert Prof Dr Roman Capaul were also in the audience.

University Council member Andreas R. Kirchschläger gave many good reasons why the HSG will still be successful in 125 years time.

What drives research

Four short presentations provided an insight into what moves HSG and the University's researchers. Prof Dr Johannes Schöning described the founding of the School of Computer Science as an important step for Eastern Switzerland. With its computer science degree programmes with an entrepreneurial orientation, it is the academic home for research and teaching in computer science, and at the same time offers a broad basic education for all other schools at HSG, explained the Professor of Human-Computer Interaction. 

Student Athavan Theivakulasingham presented START Global and explained how to found a startup at HSG and bring it to market. The student-run, non-profit organisation consists of 9,000 members from 90 nations and organises the largest student startup conference in Europe every year.

Prof. Dr Judith Ströhle teaches at the Institute for Economy and the Environment, which was co-founded by Prof. Hans Christoph Binswanger in 1992 and played a pioneering role in sustainability research. "For us, sustainability means thinking outside the box," emphasised the professor of Sustainability Governance. The aim is, on the one hand, to generate new ideas and create courage and, on the other, to integrate sustainability into existing systems.

Andreas R. Kirchschläger, member of the Board of Governors and CEO of the elea Foundation, presented ambitious wishes for where the University of St.Gallen will be in 125 years' time. It will be successful, perhaps even more successful than it is today, he said enthusiastically. He emphasised his conviction with a long list of reasons for success, which also contained a few eye-openers.

Claudia Schmid

Images: Hannes Thalmann

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