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Looking back at the opening of the Academic Year

23 August 2019

Photo: Corné Sparidaens

The official opening of the 406th academic year of the University of Groningen took place on the afternoon of Monday 2 September 2019 in the Martinikerk. Our new Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga led this festive ceremony for the first time; also the very first time a female rector was in the lead of the procession. The theme was Data.

The Board of the University and the Young Academy Groningen had invited and encouraged all UG professors to show support for investments in academic research and education and to emphasize the value of academic breadth and collaboration. The visible sign of this support was a red fabric square, to cover the top of their beret. Most of the professors answered the call.


  • Welcome speech by Prof. Cisca Wijmenga, Rector Magnificus ‘Our Opportunities Lie in Data
  • Musical intermezzo
  • Presentation of the Ubbo Emmius Medal to dr. Michel Wedel
  • Presentation of the Alumnus of the Year Award 2018 to Christaan Triebert , MA
  • Musical intermezzo
  • Mini-lecture by Prof. Amina Helmi
  • Recital by the new UG poet-in-residence
  • Closing by Prof. Cisca Wijmenga
Opening Academic Year
Photo: Pjotr Wiese

Alumnus of the Year

During the opening of the academic year, the UG Alumnus of the Year 2018 title was awarded to Christaan Triebert. The 28-year-old visual investigations journalist at The New York Times (and before: Bellingcat) receives invitations from across the globe to explain how to discover the facts by using open sources. The academic basis for his career was laid at the UG, which is why Triebert has been selected as Alumnus of the Year.

Opening Academic Year
Photo: Pjotr Wiese

Young talent

Young talent was also on show during the opening of the academic year. The new UG student poet-in-residence was announced by the Rector. This poet-in-residence. Willem Wierbos, will be expected to write a poem about the University or student life every month for the entire academic year. The first poem will be recited during the ceremony. The musical intermezzos were performed by students.

Fun fact

The official anniversary, or Dies Natalis, of the UG is on 23 August. The first UG academic year began on this date in 1614. This means that this day is the official 405t ‘birthday’ of the UG. However, in 1614, Groningen still used the Julian calendar, which differs from the new Gregorian calendar – which was already used in many parts of Europe at this time – by 10 days. Thus, according to the current Gregorian calendar, the actual date on which the UG was founded was 2 September.

Last modified:25 January 2022 2.51 p.m.
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