News of Università della Svizzera italiana

XXI Dies academicus - The Voice of the University

The 21st Dies Academicus of Università della Svizzera italiana took place this morning on Lugano Campus. After the welcome speech by the President of the University Council Monica Duca Widmer, Rector Boas Erez presented "The Voice of the University", a speech focusing on the many ways in which the University expresses its voice and contributes in an original and diversified way to scientific progress, the cultural debate and the social and economic development of its reference communities, as well as of the Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland. 

According to the Rector, over the past year USI has created the conditions for a more coherent dialogue among the various voices of the University, thus increasing its overall scope. For instance, the Academic Senate – which was instituted to strengthen the unity across the academic community – held its first session on May 4, and its members discussed topics related to the strategic planning and general working conditions of USI. Other examples of coherent and fresh voices came with the announcement of recent institutional appointments: Cristina Largader, as the Administrative director of USI, Riccardo Blumer, as Dean of the Academy of Architecture, and Antonio Carzaniga, as Dean of the Faculty of Informatics. 

According to Erez, the voice of USI is also heard thanks to the daily work of many academic and intellectual “spokespersons” who, through projects, conferences or other public events, stimulate the public debate within and outside the University. 

One of the core voices of USI is the Faculty of Communication Sciences, for which a development scenario was discussed within the Faculty and presented by the Rector. The re-framing of the Faculty underlines and confirms the shared intention to seize three of the major challenges of our time: global interconnection, diversity, and the advancement of culture. It is therefore suggested to change the name of the Faculty to “Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society”. 

Finally, Rector Boas Erez emphasized the concept of dexterity, a distinctive feature of USI which is essential to keep up with the University's future challanges. Flexibility and readiness for change allow new opportunities to be seized, and USI must keep this concept clear among its principles and goals. 

The Dies continued with the keynote speech of David Abulafia, Professor of Mediterranean History in Cambridge University, on “Mediterranean past and Mediterranean future”, underlining the renewed interest of USI on this topic: in fact, a new Middle East Mediterranean Chair has been created, directed by renowned French political scientist, orientalist and academic Gilles Kepel, with a series of ten public lectures on current topics related to the Mediterranean region. 

The customary conclusion of the Dies was dedicated to the honours, which this year went to the Faculty of Informatics. The honorary doctorate was conferred to Shriram Krishnamurthi, Brown University Professor of Computer Science, “for the innovations in the field of programming languages and for the extraordinary contributions to the teaching of informatics, from middle school to the university”; the Credit Suisse Award for best teaching was assigned to Mehdi Jazayeri, founding Dean of the Faculty of Informatics, “for the creation of an innovative curriculum in informatics and for the quality of his teaching at USI”.