The annual celebration is held on the last Friday in November and commemorates the opening of the University on 4 April 1460 at the Basel Minster.
The procession to the ceremony celebrating the Dies Academicus leads from the Natural History Museum to St. Martin’s Church. It is led by the members of the University Council, followed by three representatives of student societies who carry the university flag. Behind them come the beadle, the President, the members of the President’s Board, and external guests of the university. The procession is completed by the faculty members, the Senate Committee and the student societies with their flags. Photo: Peter Schnetz link.zoom
Many of the professors wear a gown and beret. The color of the gowns signifies the faculty affiliation: violet for Theology, red for Law, crimson for Medicine, blue for the Humanities, green for the Sciences, gold for Economics and silver for Psychology. Photo: Christian Flierllink.zoom
When the procession enters St. Martin’s Church, the President’s Board, faculty members and Senate Committee take their places at the podium. The focal point of the annual celebration is the President’s speech, which is dedicated either to a discipline-specific or university policy-related topic. The speech remains confidential until the ceremony itself. Photo: Christian Flierllink.zoom
The President, Professor Andrea Schenker-Wicki, opens the ceremony to celebrate the 558th Dies Academicus in St. Martin’s Church. Photo: Christian Flierllink.zoom
The President wears the President’s chain, which was donated by the Freunde der Universität association when the Main Building was dedicated in 1939. The chain has a silver pendant with the crest of the President, an open book with the inscription pie, juste, sobrie, sapienter (pious, just, sensible, clever). Photo: Christian Flierllink.zoom
At the Dies Academicus, the faculties confer the academic degree of Doctor honoris causa to one or more persons nominated by the faculty assemblies whom they would like to honor for their outstanding achievement. The honorary doctoral degree is conferred by the Dean. Left to right: Professor Walter Leimgruber, Dr. Hansjörg Schneider, Professor Andrea Schenker-Wicki. Photo: Christian Flierllink.zoom
In addition to honorary doctoral degrees, many other honors and distinctions are given out at the Dies Academicus. These include the Amerbach Prize for an outstanding dissertation, faculty prizes, the Emilie-Louise-Frey Prize to support young scholars, the Schwizerhüsli prize, the athletics prize and the University of Basel Alumni prize. Photo: Christian Flierllink.zoom
The ceremony finishes with a banquet at Theater Basel for invited guests. Photo: Christian Flierllink.zoom
The Master of the Academic Guild, Thomas Bachmann, and President Andrea Schenker-Wicki toast one another. Photo: Christian Flierllink.zoom
To finish, the Director of Education from either Basel or Basel-Landschaft gives a speech to the assembled guests. Governing Councilor Dr. Conradin Cramer caused a great deal of merriment at the Dies Academicus 2018 with his ceremonial address. Photo: Christian Flierllink.zoom
The Dies speech is the focal point of the celebration at St. Martin’s Church. It is held by the University’s President and addresses a topic related to academia or university policy. During the Dies Academicus, the faculties award honorary doctorate degrees to deserving individuals from academia and society. In addition, early career researchers are honored for their achievements through awards sponsored by companies, foundations or associations.
Ceremony at St. Martin’s Church
The celebration adheres to a traditional procedure. Professors and distinguished guests first convene at the museum on Augustinergasse. Together with the University Council, the procession then moves into the church, followed by students in colored garb.
On this academic holiday, the professors traditionally wear gown and beret. This dress is in the style of the academic attire that Basel professors used to be required to wear in earlier times. Gown and beret are being worn for important celebrations since the inauguration of the Kollegienhaus (main building) of the university in 1939. The Academy of Music and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland accompany the festivities with music.
Banquet at the Basel Theater
The opening ceremony at St. Martin’s Church is followed by the more informal, but no less traditional, banquet in the Foyer of the Basel Theater. The entertainment at the banquet includes a toast given by the President, the riposte by the Master of the Academic Guild (Akademische Zunft) as well as an address given by a member of the University Council.
In addition to members of the university, the honorary doctors, and laureates, the celebration is attended by representatives from other universities, government agencies, guilds, political and economic figures, churches and media representatives. This dinner, hosted jointly by the President’s Board and the Academic Guild, demonstrates and renews the bond between the university and its supporters.