On Friday 1 September 2023, the opening of the 2023-2024 academic year took place. The ceremony, themed 'Imagination', was held in a packed Martinikerk and was a great success, boasting a full and diverse programme. During the opening, Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga handed over the rectorship to Jacquelien Scherpen.
The ceremony was opened by departing Rector Cisca Wijmenga, who spoke for the fifth and last time at the opening of the academic year. In her speech, she looked back on the past years and expressed her hopes for the future.
The programme continued with the academic speech by polymer scientist Marleen Kamperman, who talked about how she is inspired by nature. Her speech was followed by a debate with Marcel Levi, chair of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), Vinod Subramaniam, President of the Executive Board of the University of Twente, and Cisca Wijmenga. The discussion was led by political scientist and president of the Young Academy Groningen, Benjamin Leruth.
Conservation lawyer Takudzwa S. Mutezo has been elected as this year's Alumnus of the Year. She received the award from Cisca Wijmenga and then, subsequently, spoke about her experience as a Zimbabwean student in Groningen, her motivation and her desire to be a 'champion for the voiceless'. Read Mutezo's speech here.
Adrian Sidhu, Masters student of Physics and winner of the GUF-100 prize, spoke about the importance of imagination, and how we need to guard it, in a world that is becoming more and more about efficiency. He was followed by the new poet in residence, Ruth Ruijgers, who recited a poem. In between, student music association Bragi provided some musical interludes.
In honour of Cisca Wijmenga's farewell, President of the Board of the University Jouke de Vries gave a short speech in which he emphasized the importance of internationalization (and the English language) and praised outgoing Rector Wijmenga. Wijmenga then officially transferred her chain of office to the new Rector Jacquelien Scherpen. Scherpen then gave a brief acceptance speech.
Some photos of the ceremony taken by photographer Pjotr Wiese:
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