Last November, the coronavirus impeded a festive celebration of the 60th anniversary of the University of Twente. The celebration was therefore postponed until today. The patient visitors were not disappointed and were treated to a festive 60th edition of the Dies Natalis. A special highlight was the presentation of the Enschede Medal by Mayor Roelof Bleker from the Municipality of Enschede to the University.
Some seven hundred visitors filed into the main hall of the Waaier for the festive ceremony and at least as many joined in digitally to watch the live stream. Traditional elements such as the Gaudeamus Igitur sung by the men of Cnodde, the cortège and the presentation of the honorary doctorates were present. But the celebration also had a hip and modern twist with, among other things, the music of singing twins Arnout and Sander Brinks - stage name Tangarine - and inspiring pitches from young UT scientists. UT researchers Femi Ojambati (ST faculty), Jerre Starink (EEMCS faculty) and Funda Atun (ITC faculty) shared personal stories about the connection between their passion, their lives and their work.
At the end of the ceremony, the brand-new mayor (and UT alumnus) Roelof Bleker took the floor. He talked about the decades-long bond between the university, the city and the region, and emphasised the importance of the university to the city of Enschede. He presented the UT Executive Board with the Enschede medal. This medal is awarded as a token of appreciation to persons, companies and institutions for exceptional and long-term achievements which give the city of Enschede special charisma and contribute to its promotion and image.
Every story has a connection' was the theme of the anniversary year of the University of Twente. Rector Tom Veldkamp focused on the connection in his contribution. The connection within teams, such as the team that was recently awarded the Higher Education Prize by Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf. But also the connection with the environment, whereby he referred to the achievements of Solar Team Twente, among others. Not only did the team deliver a fantastic performance by winning the Solar Race in Morocco last autumn, but they also managed to bind dozens of companies in the region to work together on innovations that will help shape the mobility of the future.
Every five years, the University of Twente awards honorary doctorates to people who have made an outstanding contribution to science and society. During the twelfth anniversary, the honorary doctorates go to people who have dedicated themselves to a fair, sustainable and digital society and to entrepreneurship. Honorary doctorates are entitled to use the title Doctor honoris causa, or Dr.h.c. The UT considers them to be important ambassadors.
Debra Roberts was the first person to receive an honorary doctorate during the Dies Natalis. She received it for her excellent scientific work in the field of climate risk management, her leadership in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and for linking global climate risks to local realities, putting people first.
Then it was Wim van Saarloos' turn. He is known for his brilliant and profound contributions to soft matter physics, for his leadership and vision to advance academic research organisations, for initiating the internationally respected Lorentz Center and his efforts to promote diversity.
Cybersecurity expert Jaya Baloo was the third person to take the stage to receive her honorary doctorate. Jaya is an inspirational leader in the field of cyber security, where she develops new technologies that strengthen the safety and security of our society, in a world that is rapidly changing.
Finally, there was the honorary doctorate for Constantijn van Oranje, for his dedication to empowering Dutch leaders in technology, for his inspiring drive to stimulate and promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the Netherlands and for his leadership in creating a national ambition to become one of the best startup and scale-up ecosystems in Europe and to succeed in doing so.
As is customary for the Dies Natalis, this year we also presented a number of awards to talented scientists and entrepreneurs. The winners of the Overijssel-PhD Award, the Marina van Damme Scholarship and the Professor de Winter Award were already announced in the autumn, but the winners of the awards, Sugandh Chauhan, Henrieke Veger-Van den Berg and Anouk Bomers respectively, were once again put in the limelight during the festivities.
MARINA VAN DAMME scholarship
PROF. DE WINTER AWARD
Photo credits: Eric Brinkhorst