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Academic year 2018-2019 opens in the Martinikerk

29 August 2018

Rector Magnificus Elmer Sterken officially opened academic year 2018-2019 during a ceremony in the Martinikerk on Monday 3 September. The focus of the opening was on sustainability and ecology, a topic that Rector Magnificus Elmer Sterken therefore addressed in his welcome speech. The establishment of the Global Center on Adaptation received a particular mention, with Sterken saying how proud he was that this centre will be located in Groningen and Rotterdam, with a network of staff and experts all around the world. Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the Center on 17 October 2018, when he will also receive an honorary doctorate from the UG. This is for his achievements in the field of sustainability, the realization of the UN Paris Agreement in particular.


During the ceremony in Martinikerk, there was a unique interpretation of the theme of sustainability: a one-off performance of 'Sentinel birds; The Sound and Science of Bird Migration' specially for the opening of the Academic Year. This brought together the impassioned story of Professor of Global Flyway Ecology Theunis Piersma and the soaring music of composer and percussionist Sytze Pruiksma. ‘The birds in my two hands possess greater knowledge and insight than all of us here united in this church’, said Piersma in his presentation. He believes that birds have been warning us about rapid climate change for a long time already and that they could even offer us solutions.

Carolien de Bruin was awarded the prize for Alumnus of the Year during the ceremony. In her speech, she encouraged students and the University to use their talents to bring about change. The future of the next generations is not guaranteed, she said. With her consultancy C-Change, she works with business investors to help achieve the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. De Bruin called on the University to support its students and foster critical thinking. This is what we need if we are to achieve these goals in a world full of fake news.


Young talent was also well represented at the opening. It was announced that Sofia Manouki is the new UG poet in residence. Over the coming academic year she will write a monthly poem about the University and student life. She recited her first poem at the ceremony, which ended on a musical note with a performance by Estrellas pop choir.

Have a look at the slides and the video.

Last modified:25 June 2019 10.02 a.m.
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