Campus - 13.05.2023 - 18:00 

Dies academicus, the highlight of 125 years HSG celebrations

Recognising the 125th birthday of the University of St.Gallen, members of the HSG community and the region of St.Gallen of all generations came together. In this anniversary year, HSG celebrated not only the official graduation ceremony but also the publication of the commemorative publication and accomplishments in HSG research. The University is pleased to count Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter and Akris fashion designer Albert Kriemler as new members of the Honorary Senate.

The University of St.Gallen (HSG) – founded in 1898 – celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. "Dies academicus", formerly called "University Day", brings together alumni and friends of HSG. For the 125th anniversary, a special program was offered: 

Following the first item on the program, the traditional ceremony, a vernissage of the anniversary festival publication took place in SQUARE where author Sieglinde Geisel interwove numerous stories and faces of HSG into a portrait. The third part of the festive day offered guests insight into current research projects at HSG. Title of the tour through the St.Gallen research landscape: "HSG forscht".

From business school to integrative business university 

"At the time of its founding, the spirit of our university was that of the enlightened, progress-oriented and open businessman. Without naming our educational goal in this way at the time, we strove from the very beginning to be the 'open integralist' that former President Alois Riklin once outlined," said President Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ehrenzeller in his address. The profile of this open integralist has been further developed, in light of the demands of the times. After all, today's economy needs entrepreneurial computer scientists just as much as it needs broad-based business economists and lawyers. 

The business school evolved into a business university for 9500 students with six schools and a Joint Medical Master programme. "The role and task of the University has changed. It must ensure the quality of degrees, guide students to critical, sustainable and context-oriented thinking and responsible action, and thus contribute to personal development," said President Ehrenzeller. The University must create free spaces for discourse and experimentation, and last but not least guarantee equal opportunities and diversity, the president elaborated. "We still have a few challenges to tackle in this context – under the heading of coping with the present. In doing so, I am convinced, as the expert organization that we are, we also form a community of values that learns from mistakes and moves forward strengthened from this process as an overall organization." Collaboration across HSG disciplines is central, he said – starting in 2025, the "St.Gallen Collegium" will bring together fellows from around the world and from the University's ecosystem each year. These take on such complex issues to make a relevant contribution to solving societal problems. 

Student Body President Irina Kopatz emphasized two points in her address: it is important to drive forward the digital transformation in teaching and to include the potential of students in the process. For example, students have developed the app "Biddit", which simplifies the choice of courses. The "St.Gallen Symposium" at the beginning of May or the "START Summit" in March, which took place at the Olma are further examples of student engagement and the "St.Gallen Spirit".

Awards for mentoring and inspiring teaching 

The "Mentoring Prize" and an award for outstanding teaching and interaction with students were then presented. The student body (SHSG) awarded President Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ehrenzeller as the best mentor. He had always met them openly, honestly and with a sense of humor. Prof. Dr. Kuno Schedler, expert in public management, was named best lecturer by SHSG and receives a star in the "Hall of Teaching Fame". Students appreciate Kuno Schedler for his imaginative way of sharing knowledge. He links digital and presence elements in an entertaining way. When a musician is allowed to be a professor, the enthusiasm for a subject is also transmitted.

Address by President Bernhard Ehrenzeller

Mentoring Award from SHSG President Irina Kopatz to President Bernhard Ehrenzeller

Teaching Award to Kuno Schedler

Claudia Brühwiler guided through the ceremony

The orchestra of the university accompanied the event

The university choir framed the ceremony

Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter and Albert Kriemler appointed honorary senators

At "Dies" each year, personalities are appointed honorary senators for their services to the University. Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter is the voice of St.Gallen in Bern. In political circles, she is known as a thoroughbred politician, stateswoman and thought leader. HSG honored Karin Keller-Sutter today as a supporter of the University. In particular, as former Vice President of the St.Gallen Foundation for International Studies, she has contributed to the development of HSG and has also worked for the university community by strengthening St.Gallen as a location. 

With Albert Kriemler, HSG is including an internationally outstanding St.Gallen personality in the Honorary Senate – a fashion designer with a tireless pursuit of the highest quality. As creative director, he carries the collections of Akris to fashion capitals worldwide, at the same time bringing the world to St.Gallen. Albert Kriemler seeks intensive dialogue with artists in order to create something new and unique. It is thanks to his involvement that Sou Fujimoto contributed his design to the architectural competition for SQUARE.

Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter with Albert Kriemler in the audience

Honorary senator Albert Kriemler and President Bernhard Ehrenzeller

Honorary doctorates for experts in IT, management, political science and Eastern European studies

Outstanding researchers in the fields of economics, law and social sciences have been awarded honorary doctorates:

Prof. Dr. Yvonne Rogers is Professor of Computer Science at University College, London. She conducts research on human-computer interactions, a field that is rapidly gaining importance. With her approach of interdisciplinarity and networked thinking, she shares with HSG those values that are exemplified by researchers and students alike. With Yvonne Rogers, HSG appoints an honorary doctor in computer science for the first time in its 125-year history. 

Prof. Dr. Felix Oberholzer-Gee is a faculty member at Harvard Business School in Boston, and since 2016 has also been a member of the corporate board at Ringier AG in Switzerland. Throughout his academic career, he has cultivated close interactions with executives, management consultants, and board members. In keeping with HSG's motto "From Insight to Impact," he played a key role in shaping teaching content for the Master in Strategy and International Management programme (SIM-HSG). Felix Oberholzer-Gee was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Senate for his outstanding achievements in the field of strategic management. 

Prof. em. Dr. Wolf Linder is one of the most important political scientists in Switzerland. He is known as a passionate campaigner for democracy, which he has demonstrated with his research, teaching and consulting. With an honorary doctorate, HSG gives tribute to Wolf Linder's outstanding achievements from a decades-long institutional as well as personal commitment to democracy research, conflict management in multicultural societies, and political science in Switzerland. 

Prof. phil. Manfred Sapper is one of Germany's most distinguished Eastern European scholars and editor-in-chief of the journal "Osteuropa". With his editorial team, he organizes within a very short time a kind of handbook with background articles on burning contemporary issues, providing one of the most important sources of knowledge. Since 2014, Manfred Sapper has contributed to the development of contextual studies at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS-HSG) with teaching assignments. With the award of an honorary doctorate, the SHSS-HSG recognizes him for his valuable contributions.

Honorary doctor Felix Oberholzer-Gee

Honorary doctor Wolf Linder

Honorary doctor Manfred Sapper

Honorary doctor Yvonne Rogers

Three research projects honored with "HSG Impact Awards 2023 

With HSG Impact Award, HSG honors researchers whose projects make a particularly valuable contribution to society. This year, three works were honored at the ceremony. They relate to the topics of sustainability, AI and climate finance.

HSG Impact Awards 2023 went to:

Hannah Smidt honored with "Latsis Prize

The Fondation Latsis Internationale annually honors young researchers at selected universities in Switzerland. This year, the "Latsis Prize" was awarded to Prof. Hannah Smidt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science, International Organization and Governance. In her research, she investigates peace operations and democratization processes in sub-Saharan African countries.

Jusef Selman honored with "Prize for Cultural Engagement

The "Prize for Cultural Engagement" is awarded for the third time at HSG – this time to a multifaceted and young voice of a multicultural Switzerland. Jusef Selman is a successful slam poet, lyricist and author. Sometimes with irony, sometimes with sharp wit, and always with great powers of observation, he responds to the inconsistencies and contradictions of everyday life in Swiss society.

Latsis Award Winner Hannah Smidt

HSG Culture Award Winner Jusef Selman

Vernissage of the anniversary festival publication with music and dance 

The author of the anniversary festival publication Sieglinde Geisel took visitors on a voyage of discovery through St.Gallen's urban and textile history. HSG Event Management Director Dr. Gulnaz Partschefeld hosted the vernissage of the commemorative publication with HSG Prorector Ulrich Schmid who said: "Commemorative publications tend to gather dust unread. We didn't want to publish a glossy volume that no one would read. So my former fellow student and NZZ colleague Sieglinde Geisel was commissioned to prepare a journalistic account of the University's history. The result is an entertaining story, rich in anecdotes and pictures. Let us surprise you. Sieglinde Geisel was pleased to find plenty of "literary conflict material" in the research, which is the lifeblood of a text. She gave an example: The St.Gallen Management Model almost failed. "You can find out why in the Festschrift."

You can read the commemorative publication "Thinking and Acting" under the following link (in German). 

A few impressions of the production in pictures: 

Ulrich Schmid, Sieglinde Geisel and Gulnaz Partschefeld on the podium

Guests of the vernissage

Dancing performance

The unrolling of the fabric webs

Visitors discover the walk-in vernissage

Final of the vernissage

"HSG researches" with Metaverse and Virtual Reality

The day was rounded off with inspiring science courses on a wide variety of topics that provided insight into the work of HSG researchers. Visitors were able to explore sports and exercise, the metaverse, wind power, food, startups, and virtual reality, and interact directly with scientists. 

Let the atmosphere at SQUARE pass in review:

Parcours for our young guests: Roundnet

Charging battery with muscle power

Diving into virtual worlds

Fun and games in virtual reality

Guests try the face sensor

Discussion about ChatGPT and AI

Further information