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University of Basel

Dies Academicus 2013 of the University of Basel: Eight Honorary Doctorates Awarded

On Friday (29th November 2013) the University of Basel has commemorated its Dies Academicus with the traditional ceremony - for the 553th time. During this anniversary six faculties awarded eight Honorary Doctorates. Recipients were attorney Walter Kälin, gallery owner Daniel Blaise Thorens, editor Bear Rudolf Jenny, musicologist Jordi Savall, the scientists Heinz H. Büscher and George Willcox, economist Andrew Oswald and psychologist Susan T. Fiske. The Faculty of Theology honored publisher Marianne Stauffacher who recently passed away and for whom the Faculty had intended an Honorary Doctorate.

29 November 2013

The Honorary Doctorate of the Faculty of Law was awarded to Prof. Walter Kälin from the University of Bern. He has dedicated his professional life to the fundamental and human rights, focusing especially on the right of refugees and internally displaced people and has thus provided the public procedural law in Switzerland with new dogmatic foundations. Kälin has brought science and practice in close relation to each other and has contributed considerably to the realization of human rights for people in need of protection.

The Faculty of Medicine gave their Honorary Doctorate to the Basel gallery owner Daniel Blaise Thorens who has been working towards the destigmatization of stress disorders and depression and has thus supported especially the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Psychiatric University Clinics Basel. He promotes numerous medical foundations and health institutions with his auction proceeds and personal donations and is dedicated to the cause of minorities and artists in distress.

Two Faculties with two Awards

Two Honorary Doctorates were awarded by the Faculty of Humanities this year. Honored was Dr. Beat Rudolf Jenny who has been in charge of the publication of the Correspondence of Johann Amerbach for more than fifty years and who brought this unique and outstanding work to completion. The second Honorary Doctorate was awarded to the musician and musicologist Jordi Savall for his pioneering work in the field of Early Music: He understands how to build a bridge between the development of unknown music literature and the historic performance practice; furthermore, his transcultural projects are known for their high value to the historiography of the Mediterranean culture.

The Faculty of Science awarded two Honorary Doctorates likewise. One of the awards went to Heinz H. Büscher who has done intensive research for over thirty years on the cichlids of Lake Tanganyika in Africa alongside his work as a biology laboratory assistant for the pharmaceutical company Novartis. He documents and scientifically describes their behavior and thus discovered more than 15 new species. The second Honorary Doctorate went to Georg Henry Willcox from Britain in recognition of his archaeobotanical research in West and Central Asia as well as in the Middle East regarding the cultivation and domestication of wild crop.

A further British scientist received the Honorary Doctorate by the university’s Faculty of Business and Economics: Prof. Andrew Oswald received the award in appreciation of his outstanding research on the operating modes of the job market, entrepreneurship and the determinants of human well-being. The Faculty of Psychology bestowed their Honorary Doctorate on Professor Susan T. Fiske of Princeton University for her research on social cognition, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.

Posthumous Honor

The Faculty of Theology decided during a meeting on May 27th, 2013 to award the Honorary Doctorate to Marianne Stauffacher the former Head of the publishing house «Theologischer Verlag Zürich». The honored unexpectedly passed away shortly after at the end of September 2013. The Faculty will therefore not hand out an Honorary Doctorate at this year’s ceremony. However, it does acknowledge Marianne Stauffacher’s conception and realization of the edition on the Basel Church Historian Franz Overbeck, her merits as publisher of theology and religious studies and her edition of the new Zurich bible translation.

Speech and Early Career Awards

The ceremony in St. Martin’s Church was accompanied by the orchestra and choir of the Schola Cantorum Basilensis led by Leila Schayegh. Susan Gasser, Professor of Molecular Biology and Head of the Friedrich Miescher Institute, gave a speech with the title «The Future of Medicine». The speech was preceded by a preface of Prof. Dr. Antonio Loprieno, the university’s Rector, regarding the thematic of «models and strategies». Following the ceremony, the Rector together with the Master of the Academic Guild invited to the traditional banquet taking place at the «Stadtcasino».

During this year’s Dies Academicus, a number of further awards were given especially to younger scholars: the Amerbach-Award of the Faculty of Psychology went to Dr. Benjamin Scheibehenne, the Faculty of Theology awarded Dr. theol. Lucius Kratzert, Dr. iur. Daniel Schaffner was awarded by the Faculty of Law and Dr. med Dr. phil. Michael Thomas Dill received the Faculty of Medicine’s award. The Arts Award by the Faculty of Humanities was given to Dr. phil. Rita Kesselring. Dr. phil. Flavio Donato and Dr. phil. Jelena Klinovaja received the award by the Faculty of Science. Dr. Daniela Bianca Schäfer received an award by the Faculty of Business and Economics and the Steven Karger Award by the Faculty of Psychology was received by Dr. phil. Joe Kossowsky as well as by Dr. phil. Julia Friederike Sowislo.

The University of Basel bestowed the Sports Award to its longtime Head of University Sports, Marco Obrist. The Credit Suisse Award For Best Teaching went to the Professor of English Ina Habermann from the Faculty of Humanities. The Emilie Louis Frey Award for the promotion of young female researchers went to Dr. Mirjam Jenny, the Irma Tschudi Steiner Award to Dr. phil. des. Daniela Abgottspon and the Early Career Award by the fraternity «Schwizerhüsli» to Anne-Valerie Burgener. 

Documentation and Illustrations

Pictures of the Honorary Doctorates can be found in the media database.

Further Information

Dr. Beat Münch, University of Basel, Tel. +41 61 267 30 32, mobile +41 79 322 47 54, email: beat.muench@unibas.ch

Further information
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