CEU Opens 28th Academic Year in Ceremony Celebrating Teaching, Research, Academic Freedom

CEU formally began its new Academic Year today, welcoming students, faculty, staff and distinguished guests with an Opening Ceremony held in the spirit of free inquiry, diversity, and open society that are the hallmarks of CEU.

CEU leadership welcomed close to 700 new students from more than 80 countries to the community, which now includes 1,700 students and hundreds of staff and faculty, as well as 16,000 alumni worldwide.

"We can be sure that there is an exciting year ahead of us," said Pro-Rector Zsolt Enyedi said, greeting the community in Hungarian. "Each day we will be taking exams. Exams of knowledge, integrity and solidarity. We will seek the truth, as before, knowing that throughout this process we will be enjoying each other’s friendship and all that this wonderful university can provide us. This year we will try to make it even clearer than before that we are an integral part of the Hungarian scientific and cultural community. We will do our best to contribute to our environment with the knowledge we deliver in the hope that our environment will also appreciate that." 

Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian, Kepszerkesztoseg
Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian, Kepszerkesztoseg

"We have to accomplish all our goals by remaining one CEU,' said President and Rector Michael Ignatieff in his welcoming remarks. "One community of faculty, staff, students, trustees and alumni, who share a commitment to open societies, who share a commitment of passionate belief that knowledge is the basis of citizenship, and who believe in a kind of intellectual fearlessness. A willingness to challenge conventional wisdom, but especially brave enough to challenge our own conventional wisdom. These are ambitious goals, but they are ours to achieve. We don’t have to wait for others to determine our fate. It is up to us to chart our future, and when I look out across you, I look at something that is so important. I look at our future. And it is a wonderful future."

Ignatieff’s address was followed by remarks from a continuing student, Sanford Mba, who is an SJD student at the Deparment of Legal Studies. 

Sanford Mba, SJD student talks at the Opening Ceremony. Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian, Kepszerkesztoseg
Sanford Mba, SJD student talks at the Opening Ceremony. Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian, Kepszerkesztoseg

"CEU, and what is represents, is better felt than imagined. I’m sure you will feel the same way if you look around you. CEU is a melting pot, where nearly every culture of the world is represented. It is also a melting pot of ideas. A safe space that allows people to cultivate their self-actualization, promoting mutual respect, and encouraging constructive debate and projects," Mba said. 

Incoming student R. Merve Demirkan Aydogan of the Department of History said that she first heard about CEU during the #IstandwithCEU campaign.

R. Merve Demijkan Aydogan, student at the Department of History is one of CEU's 700 new students in 2018. Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian, Kepszerkesztoseg
R. Merve Demijkan Aydogan, student at the Department of History is one of CEU's 700 new students in 2018. Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian, Kepszerkesztoseg

"Looking back at the first two weeks at CEU, I have realized that I’ve never been in an educational institution where everyone is so caring, friendly and helpful, and where every single person I meet, knows about the name of my normally not-so-popular town in Turkey," Aydogan said.

Representing CEU's faculty, Professor Agnes Batory of the School of Public Policy addressed the incoming students.

"Professors are not here to teach you. We are here to help you learn about the particular subject that you study, but more importantly to help you to learn to think for yourself, to formulate your ideas convincingly, and to argue your case. I believe that ultimately these are the most important skills that you will take with you, and the ones that will serve you best in life," Batory said.

Hungarian cellist Barnabas Baranyai performed Gaspar Cassado’s Requiebros, accompanied by Marcell Szabo on piano.

Faculty members were recognized for their excellence in research and teaching. Renata Uitz, professor in the Department of Legal Studies, and Andras Sajo, university professor in the Department of Legal Studies won the 2018 CEU Award for Outstanding Research. Erin Jenne, professor in the Department of International Relations, and Tamara Steger, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy received the 2018 CEU Distinguished Teaching Award, recognizing their high standards of teaching, linked with the mission and institutional ambitions of CEU.

Barnabas Baranyai performed Gaspar Cassado's Requiebros. Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian, Kepszerkesztoseg
Barnabas Baranyai performed Gaspar Cassado's Requiebros. Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian, Kepszerkesztoseg

Ignatieff recognized Professor Katharine Sarikakis, Professor of Communication Science, Director of the Media Governance and Industries Research Lab, and Jean Monnet Chair of European Media Governance and Integration at the University of Vienna, recipient of the seventh annual CEU European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Sarikakis was not able to attend the ceremony but will travel to Budapest to receive the award next week. Sarikakis will also receive the accompanying €5,000 Diener Prize, made possible by a generous gift from Steven and Linda Diener in memory of Ilona Diener. For further information on the award and past winners, visit: http://ctl.ceu.edu/awards.