USI celebrated its 27th Dies academicus
Institutional Communication Service
6 May 2023
This morning, the 27th Dies academicus of Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) was held in the West Campus Lugano Aula Magna. The event opened with greetings from the President of the University Council, Monica Duca Widmer and State Councillor Marina Carobbio Guscetti. Deputy Rector Lorenzo Cantoni emphasised, alongside the excellent results achieved on the education and research fronts, the crucial cultural role played by universities in the preservation, further development and transfer of knowledge. After the keynote speech by Webber Ndoro, Director General of ICCROM, the rector's chain was handed over to the Appointed Rector, Luisa Lambertini, who will take office on 1 July next.
Università della Svizzera italiana has experienced a year "full of satisfactions, of displays of cohesion and attachment to the institution and of important results", highlighted the President of the University Council, Monica Duca Widmer, in her welcome address. The President dwelt in particular on the ambitious project of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, which began in 2011, and which, with the recent accreditation of the study programme, will see the first students take the federal medical examination in September. Università della Svizzera italiana concluded the President is ready to face future challenges and will continue to work to consolidate, optimise and strengthen its academic structures.
The university, emphasised State Councillor and DECS Director Marina Carobbio Guscetti in her speech, is a place "not only of higher education but also an open space where different worlds, different experiences, live a constant interconnection". The future challenges for USI include not being included in European research programs and working towards achieving fair and guaranteed gender equality by increasing the presence of women in the academic body."The appointment of a woman, Professor Lambertini, as the new rector is certainly an important step towards promoting women's careers and introducing new management models to ensure inclusion and attention to diversity," concluded the State Councillor.
University and culture
The 27th Dies academicus comes at the close of a renewal phase for USI, with the appointment of Rector Luisa Lambertini, taking office on 1 July, and Director of Operations Marvin Blumer. An "intense, complex, and at the same time fruitful period", emphasised Deputy Rector Lorenzo Cantoni in his speech, who, in addition to summarising USI's main achievements over the past year, dwelt on the cultural role of universities.
In the 2022-23 academic year, USI set a new record in the number of students enrolled - 4,190, distributed over 49 programmes -; research kept very significant levels in terms of projects financed, for more than 26 million francs and in terms of publications. Concerning the so-called third mission, in addition to the numerous events open to the public and the activities of L'ideatorio, the innovation transfer activities, those of the USI Startup Centre and the House of Sustainability project are worth mentioning. The primary data on USI's work can be found in the report USI key figures, which was published on the Dies academicus.
Active in education, research and service, Università della Svizzera italiana plays an important cultural role. "It does so," explained Deputy Rector Cantoni, "in accordance with its nature: by preserving, further developing and transferring knowledge that is relevant for the good of society, of the present and present generations", by engaging in dialogue with society and its various entities, and by striving to understand the complexity of historical and cultural phenomena.
The importance of cultural heritage was the focus of the speech by Webber Ndoro, Director General of ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). The intergovernmental organisation created by UNESCO in 1956 has, over the years, expanded its activities, involving communities in heritage management and emphasising the role that heritage plays in society. "As ICCROM, we believe that cultural heritage is essential to recovery and resilience. Communities cannot live without cultural heritage," said the Director General.
The ceremony ended with Deputy Rector Lorenzo Cantoni handing over the golden chain to the Appointed Rector, Luisa Lambertini, who will take office on 1 July next. "I receive this gold chain knowing fully well that it is not just a symbol that distinguishes Rectors on official occasions, but rather represents the responsibility I am taking on towards the students who choose us for their studies and their families, towards the academic colleagues, researchers and employees who work for the university, and towards the region that supports us," said the Appointed Rector in her speech. "I invite you from now on to collaborate with me to move forward together on major projects that can have a real impact on the region and beyond," concluded Luisa Lambertini.
As per tradition, the Dies academicus was the chance to confer the Università della Svizzera italiana's honours.
Alberto Campo Baeza, Emeritus Head Professor of Design in the Madrid School of Architecture, received an Honorary Doctorate in Architecture "for his contribution to the success of Iberian architecture in the world, realising works with great historical awareness combined with constant research into the relationship between landscape, light, space, gravity and time".
Barbara Czarniawska, Senior Professor of Management Studies at the University of Gothenburg, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Communication Sciences for her role as "forerunner of ethnographic methods and the eclecticism of qualitative methods applied to management and organisations, of which she has offered an alternative reading in a communicative, narrative and relational key, sensitive to contexts and attentive to the interconnections between organisations and society".
The Credit Suisse Award for Best Teaching was presented to Luca Gabutti, Professor at the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, "for the quality of his teaching".
Piero Martinoli, President of Università della Svizzera italiana from 2006 to 2016, was appointed Honorary President "for his fundamental contribution to the development and consolidation of USI at the national and international level in its second decade, in particular for his work in favour of strengthening scientific research, the creation of a pole dedicated to computational science and the creation of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences".
Giatgen Spinas, Professor Emeritus of the University of Zurich, was appointed Honorary Member of Università della Svizzera italiana "for his decisive and generous support for the birth and development of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences".
During the 27th Dies academicus, two Università della Svizzera italiana Medals were also awarded for the first time, in appreciation of people who have contributed to the development of Università della Svizzera italiana. The two USI Medals were presented to Dr Franco Cavalli and Dr Giorgio Noseda.
In the Aula Magna, a number of representative testimonies of Ticino's tangible and intangible heritage were exhibited thanks to the collaboration with the Monte San Giorgio Fossil Museum, the Mendrisio Art Museum, the Mendrisio Historical Processions Foundation and the Centre for Dialectology and Ethnography in Bellinzona. In addition, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the UNESCO Chair at USI, an exhibition on Swiss sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, curated by World Heritage Experience Switzerland (WHES), was on display in the court of the East Campus Lugano and in the West Campus Aula magna foyer.
The ceremony was accompanied by musical interludes by the Green Onion Band.