On 14 September, partners, supporters and members of civil society came together at the Maison du Savoir to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the University of Luxembourg.
The ceremony was celebrated in the presence of His Royal Highness the Grand Duke, the Prime Minister, members of the government, and more than 500 friends, partners and supporters of the University. It kicked off with the introduction of the University’s brand-new mascot, in the shape of Luxembourg’s red lion, and concluded with a festive birthday cake.
In the meantime, Chairman of the Board of Governors Yves Elsen, Rector Jens Kreisel, keynote speaker Professor Dame Sarah Springman of the University of Oxford, Minister for Higher Education and Research Claude Meisch and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel addressed the audience of close to 600 attendees.
Yves Elsen delved into the past with media headlines from 2005. While many were dubious about the future of the new institution, he highlighted that most of them have now been proven wrong in light of the University’s achievements and position today. He also underlined the responsibility that universities have, a responsibility that comes with their privilege in contributing to shape the world. “One of the risks for science is to put it under pressure for rapid results – this was the case during the pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic reinforced my belief in academic freedom: every researcher must be free to explore ideas, without economic, political or ideological pressure. This freedom must be exercised by applying a rigorous scientific approach, embedded in a culture of impeccable scientific ethics and integrity.”
He thanked the current and previous governments as well as the many donors of the University for their support throughout the years, noting that the University has used their support wisely and will continue to act as a pillar for society in the future.
Three success factors: interdisciplinarity, people and partnerships
Rector Jens Kreisel turned the spotlight on the people who have contributed to the success of the University. To start with, people like Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, who he said had been “proven right” in her conviction for the need for a knowledge society, and former rector Rolf Tarrach, who he called the “architect of the University”. He also praised the staff and students who each day add building blocks to the University’s development.
He then described that societal and technological changes call for a strong value system to embed the digital transition and explained that the University will soon open a centre for digital ethics to meet this need. He also introduced to students a competition for ideas for the future of university education that will be launched next year. Why? Because universities must adapt to changes in society, to modern technologies, new societal challenges, and democratic and environmental changes. And students have their part to play.
The rector concluded by outlining the three success factors that will shape the University: interdisciplinarity, people and partnerships.
Claude Meisch, Minister for Higher Education and Research, summed up some key milestones from the past 20 years and some major developments for the years to come, noting the University’s contributions in areas of interest for the country. In his closing remarks, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel recalled his time at the Commission for Higher Education at the Parliament in 2003, and how people like Erna Hennicot-Schoeges and Nelly Stein (former mayor of Schifflange and President of the said commission) fought for the new University. He concluded by saying that 20 years later, he saw the University not as an expense, but as a good investment.
A new promotional video, a new composition by musician Pol Belardi especially for the University’s birthday and a roundtable discussion with notable alumni from various professional fields rounded off the celebration.
Copyright: University of Luxembourg/Sophie Margue
Picture at the top (from left to right): Chairman of the Board of Governors Yves Elsen, His Royal Highness the Grand Duke, Rector Jens Kreisel.