CEU Graduates 708, Awards Open Society Prize to Former German President Joachim Gauck

June 23, 2017

Budapest, June 23, 2017 – Today at Central European University's 26th graduation ceremony, 708 students from 97 countries received master's, doctoral degrees and non-degree certificates at Budapest's Palace of Arts (MUPA). The University also awarded the Open Society Prize to former German President Joachim Gauck in recognition of his courageous defense of human rights and his distinguished record in the service of free societies. CEU also granted a posthumous honorary degree to Wiktor Osiatynski, a legal and public policy scholar who was a staunch supporter of CEU for more than two decades.

The ceremony began with a performance by the Bakats Teri Enek-Zenei Altalanos Iskola Korusa (children's choir) from the Oscar-winning Hungarian film “Mindenki.”

CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff opened the ceremony by saying, “The University has been challenged but we firmly hope we're on a path to a resolution to our difficulties. I've never been prouder of this University than I am this morning. Carry that pride wherever you go for the rest of your lives.”

CEU Chairman of the Board Leon Botstein thanked the citizens of Budapest for their support of CEU this year, and underscored the deep significance of receiving a degree this year. “Wherever you go with your critical patriotism, each of you becomes a soldier in the fight for freedom and autonomy,” Botstein said.

The ceremony concluded with Gauck receiving the CEU Open Society Prize and giving remarks. He urged students to “participate actively in the debates and join us in building a united Europe which values freedom and openness and shows responsibility in putting them into practice.” He added, "It was the citizens of Hungary who longed and struggled for freedom, and now some of them feel that this freedom is under threat. At that time, we longed for a Europe without borders – and now some people see this openness as a threat.”

CEU ranks among the top 160 universities in Europe, according to The Times Higher Education Best Universities in Europe 2017, published June 21. In other THE rankings for 2016-17, CEU ranked 8th in the world in terms of international outlook. Separately, CEU ranked 16th in the THE BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings 2017, published in November 2016. Among top universities under 50 years old, CEU ranked 39th in the world, THE said in April 2017. Also in April, CEU was ranked second on THE’s list of universities with the highest percentage of international students.

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