A golden chain symbolising continuity, wisdom and responsibility


Institutional Communication Service

3 April 2023

Rector chains have a centuries-old history in Switzerland and Europe. Those who attended the last Dies academicus will remember the Rector's entrance into the Aula magna followed by all his peers from Swiss universities wearing the necklaces of their respective universities. Very old or more recent chains, depending on the university's history. Also very symbolic was the moment when the outgoing Rector, Boas Erez, took off the chain and placed it around the neck of Deputy Rector Lorenzo Cantoni, who has been at the university's helm ever since.

What does the rectoral chain at USI represent? In general, chains distinguish the Rectors on official occasions and represent the responsibility they take on by holding this apex function at their universities. "The main motif of the USI chain is a stylisation of the iris, a flower representing wisdom," explains Lugano-based goldsmith Maros, who manufactured it in 2022 after a long conversation about the role of the university with the then Rector Boas Erez. 

Inspiring the artist was the concept of the university as the way for the future, understood as the pathway that each member of the academic community travels to attain knowledge collectively. In this dynamic towards the centre of the chain, all links have fundamental importance: each plays its role in relation to the other for the common good. The energy of the university community thus pours towards the square-shaped pendant, which represents the agora: a place for meeting, exchange and debate. On the pendant are represented 11 concentric orders that must be crossed to finally reach the iris, the flower of wisdom. Thus, the chain represents USI as a pathway to the future for its students and researchers, its employees and the region in which it operates.

In the interviews that followed the Dies academicus, the chain was also used as a symbol of continuity. USI is a young university that has so far had four guiding figures: Professors Marco Baggiolini, Piero Martinoli, Boas Erez and Lorenzo Cantoni. The links in the same chain, who have been able to accompany and guide USI in its constant growth since 1996. The fifth link in this succession will be Prof. Luisa Lambertini, who will receive the chain from Prof. Cantoni at the XXVII Dies academicus.