University of Zurich Awards Six New Honorary Doctorates

At its 186th Dies academicus ceremony, the University of Zurich awarded honorary doctor-ates to law professor Niamh Moloney, pediatrician Marina Cavazzana, linguist Johanna Nichols, computational analysis specialist Kathleen M. Carley, biblical scholar Shimon Gesundheit, and sustainability expert Ghassem R. Asrar. Former Swiss Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard and publisher Denise Schmid were named honorary senators.

Dies - Gruppenfoto
Dies - Gruppenfoto
UZH President Michael Hengartner with the honorary doctors and the honorary senators: In the front (from the left): Prof. Dr. Kathleen M. Carley, President Prof. Dr. Michael Hengartner, former Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar; in the back (from the left): Prof. Dr. Johanna Nichols, Prof. Dr. Marina Cavazzana, Prof. Dr. Shimon Gesundheit, Denise Schmid, Prof. Dr. Niamh Moloney.

Numerous guests from the academic, business, cultural, and political world were present at the Dies academicus ceremony held Saturday to commemorate the foundation of the University of Zurich 186 years ago. They included former Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard and Canton Zurich Government Councilor Silvia Steiner. In her speech, State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation Martina Hirayama described how “the University of Zurich sets a great example in terms of engagement and being alert to the need for change and innovation.” This, she said, was the basis of the success of UZH and the entire Swiss higher education sector. According to Hirayama, the University of Zurich is not just firmly rooted and connected locally and regionally, but is a national heavyweight that also ranks among the world’s best universities.

Good collaboration at the University

In their address, Polina Pokrovskaya and Isias Moser of the VSUZH (the Association of Students at the University of Zurich) underscored the good collaboration with the University and the high degree of student representation, as well as advocating sustainability in the university environment.

UZH President Michael Hengartner took another look back at last year: in 2018 student numbers remained at high levels, and UZH’s management structure was further reinforced. Highlights included the first Midsummer Night Party for staff, festivities in commemoration of the Zurich reformer Heinrich Bullinger, and the “100 Ways of Thinking” science and art exhibition. President Hengartner also looked into the future, describing UZH’s plans to massively expand its teaching and research around digital within the framework of the Zurich digitalization initiative. Those present were also treated to a video presentation of the winning project from architects Herzog & de Meuron for the planned Forum UZH university building.

Faculties award honorary doctorates

The faculties of the University of Zurich awarded honorary doctorates to four women and two men:

  • The Faculty of Theology honored Professor Shimon Gesundheit of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for his outstanding services to traditional Jewish scholarship and modern biblical studies, and his successful endeavors to bring different academic cultures together.
  • The Faculty of Law awarded an honorary doctorate to Professor Niamh Moloney of the London School of Economics in recognition of her pioneering contributions to EU financial market and business law, and in particular to the development of securities regulation.
  • The Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics awarded the title to Professor Kathleen M. Carley of Carnegie Mellon University for her contribution to a better understanding of digitalized societies. With new approaches to social network analysis she has helped shape and give crucial impetus to the development of data science and computational social science.
  • The Faculty of Medicine honored Professor Marina Cavazzana, the physician who heads the Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital affiliated to the University of Paris Descartes, for her pioneering developments in gene therapy for diseases of the immune system. She is an inspiring teacher who has promoted and encouraged many people in translational science and medicine.
  • The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences awarded an honorary doctorate to Professor Emerita Johanna Nichols of the University of California in Berkeley, a language expert whose innovative approach has helped shape research into linguistic diversity and inspired generations all over the world.
  • The Faculty of Science honored environmental physicist Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar, Director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute, who has contributed to transdisciplinary research in earth system sciences and developed new methods which enhance knowledge of the coupled human-environment system and are used to solve global environmental problems.

Doris Leuthard and Denise Schmid named honorary senators

The University also named two former students honorary senators:

  • UZH alumna and former Swiss Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard was honored for her contribution to bringing together universities, business, and the authorities in the field of the environment, energy, and communications.
  • UZH alumna, publisher Denise Schmid, has shown great dedication in her roles as President of Zurich University Association and Co-President of UZH Alumni.

UZH Teaching Award goes to Professor Chatchavan Wacharamanotham

This year the University of Zurich’s Teaching Award went to Chatchavan Wacharamanotham, Professor of Interaction Design at the Department of Informatics at the Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics. He receives the award in recognition of teaching that encourages dialogue both among students and between instructors and students. Testimonials from students were a particularly important factor in his selection by the jury.

Research awards

The 2019 Scientist Award from the University of Zurich’s Walter and Gertrud Siegenthaler Foundation goes to Dr. Silvio Brugger, in recognition of his scientific and clinical work at the Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology at UniversityHospital Zurich, and to Dr. Erik W. Holy, in recognition of his scientific and clinical work at the University Cardiology Center at UniversityHospital Zurich. The Walter and Gertrud Siegenthaler Research Fellowship is awarded to Dr. Lucia Abela-Arnold, a physician at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health in London.

Awards for the best PhD theses

This year’s annual faculty awards go to:

Lida Leonie Panov (Faculty of Theology), Dr. Christina Neier (Faculty of Law), Dr. Stevo Pavićević (Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics), Dr. David Bächinger (Faculty of Medicine), Dr. Christian Schiffmann (Vetsuisse Faculty), Nicole Rathgeb (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences), and Dr. Anaïs Mairena (Faculty of Science).

Two new awards presented

For the first time the University of Zurich has presented a Team Effort award. It goes to the five UZH departments – Technical Services at Irchel, the communications, human resources, safety, security and environment departments, and the Association of the Non-Professorial Academic Staff of the University of Zurich (VAUZ) – who jointly organized and staged the staff party in June 2018. The prize is awarded for “cooperation that succeeded in every respect, building and working across departments.”

Dr. Alain Gut receives another new honor, the Alumni Award 2019, for his services to UZH’s alumni set-up. In his role as financial mastermind and source of enterprising ideas, he has played a major role in the ongoing development of alumni relations at the University.