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Successful RUG400 celebrations reflect University's strong ties with city, region and alumni

20 November 2014

The University of Groningen is an important link binding people with the city of Groningen, as was shown by the celebration of the University’s 400th anniversary. ̒In a commemorative year such as this, you see not only how intimately connected the university is with the city but also how many people in the Netherlands still feel a close bond with our city because of the time they spent here at the University,’ says Hans Poll, Director of Marketing Groningen.

The evaluation of this 400th anniversary of the University of Groningen concluded that the celebration had been a great success. The celebration of RUG400 attracted more than 150,000 visitors to the city. It was something special for the University itself, and for the city and the surrounding region, with m any alumni returning to their alma mater.
Official opening of the celebrations in the presence of King Willem Alexander. Photo: Reyer Boxem
Official opening of the celebrations in the presence of King Willem Alexander. Photo: Reyer Boxem

For infinity

The programme centred on the theme of RUG400: For Infinity. An important aspect of the programme was its lasting nature, organizing activities which can continue after the celebrations have concluded. The successful 400 Questions project will be continued, allowing people outside the University to query researchers, while the ‘Bommen Boat Race’ and the ‘Lauwers Run’ will also be repeated every year.
The 'Bommen Boat Race' will be repeated every year
The 'Bommen Boat Race' will be repeated every year


The programme for RUG400 was wide-ranging and varied thanks to the efforts of the many students, staff and volunteers who contributed, making the programme such a success. Apart from the 400 Questions project, the highlights included the official opening of the celebrations in the presence of King Willem Alexander, the biggest student gala ever, the theatrical performance of Voor Eeuwig (For Infinity), the presentation of 10 honorary doctorates to top international researchers, along with the alumni weekend and closing party.
Closing party on the Grote Markt. Photo: Niels de Vries
Closing party on the Grote Markt. Photo: Niels de Vries

Connecting with the public and the region

Apart from the usual academic target groups, the express intention was to connect the general public and the northern region with the University of Groningen. We managed to find many partners and sponsors in the North who were willing to support the programme. This made it financially possible for us to present a joint programme.

Sponsoring important source

The celebration of the 400th anniversary was largely due to the generous donations from the sponsors.The main sponsors were Freia BV, XPAR Vision BV, GasTerra BV, NV Nederlandse Gasunie and Menzis Zorgverzekeraar NV.The University of Groningen spent €780,000 of its own funds on the celebrations. The university sets funds aside every year for the coming anniversary. Ultimately €1.4 million was raised through sponsorship and grants. Ticket sales, catering and other income raised another €490,000.

Commemorative book

A history of the RUG400 (400th anniversary) celebrations will be published on 1 December 2014 in book form (approx. 120 pages), as was also done in 1914, 1964 and 1989. The volume is bilingual (Dutch and English) and richly illustrated. The commemorative book is intended for people and organizations connected with the University of Groningen (e.g. Coimbra and the recipients of honorary doctorates), partners, sponsors and the members of staff involved in the celebrations. There will also be an e-book version available for anyone who would like a copy. All the information on the RUG400 website will also be kept as a digital archive.
Last modified:19 March 2020 1.36 p.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

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