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Utrecht University
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Utrecht University celebrates 380th anniversary

Looking back on the Dies Natalis 2016


This year is Utrecht University's 380th anniversary. Therefore, the Dies Natalis (the University's Anniversary Day) of 29 March focussed on the 76th lustrum and its theme Create, Connect & Celebrate. Beatrice de Graaf, Professor of History of International Relations, Global Governance at Utrecht University, gave the Anniversary Address A University in time of crisis. On the same afternoon, two Teacher Awards and four Honorary Doctorates were awarded and an alumnus received the title 'Alumnus of the Year' for the first time.

Download the speeches held during the Dies natalis here.

Crisis as an opportunity for self reflection
In the Anniversary Address, Beatrice de Graaf took the audience back to 1815, a time of European crisis and unrest. She showed how the University seized this turbulent time as an opportunity to reflect on itself and its purpose in society. The board, professors and students did not miss out on the opportunity to restore the University, which had been downgraded by the French, to an autonomous place of knowledge transfer for the city, the students and society.

Teacher Awards
During the Dies Natalis, President of the Executive Board Marjan Oudeman presented the Lecturer of the Year Award and the Best Young teaching Talent Award 2015-2016. These were awarded to Marleen Rijkeboer, Senior Lecturer of Psychology, and Haza Rahim, who also works in Psychology as a lecturer/tutor, respectively. With the Teacher Awards, Utrecht University shows its great appreciation for good education.

Honorary Doctorate Ceremony:
During the ceremony, four Honorary Doctorates will be awarded. Two of them are scientific and will be presented to sociologist Robert J. Sampson and marine biologist Sybil Seitzinger, respectively. Two social Honorary Degrees will be presented to architect Francine Houben and musician Jordi Savall, respectively.

Alumnus of the Year
In this year, Utrecht University presented the Alumnus of the Year Award for the first time. It went to Urgenda Foundation Director Marjan Minnesma. With high enthusiasm, she is committed to bringing about a sustainable world and has been occupying the number-one position in the Duurzame 100 (Sustainable 100) of the Dutch newspaper Trouw for a few years now. Among other achievements, Minnesma was able to generate a lot of attention for the Climate Summit in Paris.

Utrecht University's Anniversary Day is usually held on 26 March. As 26 March of this year fell on a Saturday, the Friday before it was Good Friday and the Monday after it was Easter Monday, the Dies Natalis 2016 was held on 29 March.


Started on 29 March, Utrecht University celebrates its 76st lustrum under the motto Create, Connect & Celebrate. This is to inspire each other but also to strengthen our ties with the city, the region and social groups. Together with students, employees, alumni, local and regional partners, Utrecht University will organise a broad range of activities. Please check


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