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Dies academicus

Five Women and Two Men Awarded Honorary Doctorates by UZH

The University of Zurich celebrates its 189th anniversary virtually on Saturday, awarding honorary doctorates to ecumenist Dorothea Sattler, Polish human rights commissioner Hanna Machińska and gender medicine pioneer Vera Regitz-Zagrosek. Veterinarian Debbie Jaarsma, theoretical physicist Ruth Durrer, educational economist Eric Bettinger and forensic phonetician Peter French also received honorary degrees.
Visual Dies Academicus
The University of Zurich celebrates its 189th anniversary. (Image: UZH)

The University of Zurich celebrates its 189th anniversary digitally for the third year in a row, honoring outstanding scientists and researchers and their latest projects through a series of videos made available online. “The film format has its advantages,” explains President Michael Schaepman. “Everybody can take part, from anywhere in the world. This aligns very well with UZH’s identity as a social place with an international standing.”

The film for the Dies academicus 2022 is available by this link.

Making the education system more flexible and accessible

Councilor Silvia Steiner notes that learning has undergone fundamental changes since the University of Zurich was established in 1833: “Today, the education system has to be viewed as a whole, and it needs to be made more flexible and accessible. The ‘Lehrplan 21’ curriculum provides clear criteria for transitioning to vocational schools, upper secondary schools and thus also to higher education institutions,” says the government councilor of the canton of Zurich.

Her video was filmed in one of the many sites of the University Library, which provided a common thread running through the event presented by philosopher Barbara Bleisch. The University Library, too, will go through significant change. When the new FORUM UZH building opens, library media from multiple sites will be compiled and digitalized there. In addition to being a place for students to study and research, the planned building will also be a meeting place for the public. “The teaching building of the 21st century, the FORUM UZH, is meant to be a place where academia and the public can come together. Scientists carry their solutions and innovations into society and benefit from a continuous dialogue with its members,” says Michael Schaepman.

Honorary doctorates awarded to five women, two men

On the occasion of Dies academicus, the faculties at UZH awarded the following honorary doctorates to the following outstanding scholars. For the first time, the honorary degrees were awarded to more women than men.

  • The Faculty of Theology honored Prof. Dr. Dorothea Sattler of the University of Münster in recognition of her life’s work as a leading ecumenical scholar committed to the unity of the Christian denominations. 
  • The Faculty of Law awarded its honorary degree to Dr. Hanna Machińska, instructor at the University of Warsaw and deputy commissioner for human rights in Poland since 2017, for her life’s work and extraordinary contribution in support of European integration and as a defender of European values.
  • The Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics honored Prof. Dr. Eric Bettinger of Stanford University for his work in advancing educational economics and his contributions to education policy in industrialized and developing countries.
  • The Faculty of Medicine presented an honorary doctorate to Prof. Dr. Vera Regitz-Zagrosek of the Charité Berlin. Her research in the field of gender-specific medicine has ensured that aspects of gender difference are anchored in medical teaching.
  • The Vetsuisse Faculty honored Prof. Dr. Debbie Jaarsma, dean at Utrecht University, for her commitment to the development of teaching methods and her ideas for creating optimal learning and working environments for students.
  • The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences awarded an honorary doctorate to Prof. Dr. Peter French of the University of York in recognition of his achievements in forensic phonetics and his considerable work in solving crimes based on acoustic and auditory analyses of the human voice.
  • The Faculty of Science honored Prof. Dr. Ruth Durrer, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Geneva, in recognition of her outstanding accomplishments in theoretical cosmology.
Honory doctors Prof. Dr. Dorothea Sattler, Dr. Hanna Machińska, Prof. Dr. Eric Bettinger, Prof. Dr. Vera Regitz-Zagrosek (first row from left to right); Prof. Dr. Debbie Jaarsma, Prof. Dr. Peter French, Prof. Dr. Ruth Durrer (second row from left to right)
Honory doctors Prof. Dr. Dorothea Sattler, Dr. Hanna Machińska, Prof. Dr. Eric Bettinger, Prof. Dr. Vera Regitz-Zagrosek (first row from left to right); Prof. Dr. Debbie Jaarsma, Prof. Dr. Peter French, Prof. Dr. Ruth Durrer (second row from left to right).

Honorary senators

This year, the University of Zurich appointed not one but two honorary senators. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sabine Kunst was honored for her commitment to fostering international exchange of knowledge and research findings as well as her dedication in promoting cooperation between Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and UZH. Dr. Peter R. Isler was recognized for his work as president of the Alumni UZH organization, co-president and president of the follow-up organization UZH Alumni as well as a member of the UZH Foundation’s board of trustees.

Teaching award goes to philologist

This year’s teaching award was presented to Prof. Dr. Christoph Riedweg, professor of classical philology and Greek studies at the Department of Greek and Latin Philology. With his inspired teaching, he sparks his students’ intellectual curiosity and actively encourages their enthusiasm for science and research topics by engaging them in critical discourse.

Team effort award for university refugee program

The lively cooperation of Global Affairs, the UZH/ETH Language Center and the University of Zurich Student Association’s study integration committee was rewarded with this year’s award for team effort. Together they set up the START! Study – University Integration Program at UZH. The two-semester educational program enables promising refugees to prepare for studying in Switzerland and develops their language and organizational skills as well as their academic expertise.

Awards for outstanding PhD theses

This year’s annual faculty awards went to: Dr. Mirjam Aeschbach (Faculty of Theology), Dr. Sandra Simone van der Stroom (Faculty of Law), Dr. Tania Weinfurtner (Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics), Dr. med. Carlo Cervia (Faculty of Medicine), Dr. Hanna Marti (Vetsuisse Faculty), Dr. Michèle Dick (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) and Kora Klein (Faculty of Science).

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