CEU launched its 2023-24 Academic Year today welcoming nearly 700 students from around the world during the Opening Ceremony in Vienna.
Pro-Rector for Foresight and Analysis and Professor Tim Crane served as Master of Ceremonies, greeting students, guests and the broader CEU community gathered at the Ankerbrotfabrik Expedithalle.
In her address, CEU President and Rector, Shalini Randeria said: “As we open our doors to a new cohort of remarkable students, we are once again reminded of the importance of constantly remaining open to new ideas and new challenges during our joint voyage of intellectual discovery and collaboration with you.” She added: “CEU is much more than just an educational institution. We are a diverse community of students, faculty and staff from over 100 different countries, and we proudly stand for the values of open society, of academic freedom, and of critical thinking in the face of growing intolerance, authoritarianism and dogmatism in the world today.”
Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector Emeritus and Professor, announced this year’s Presidential Scholar Award recipients: BA students Max Johann Petershagen and Nina Lukacs; MA students Oleh Malskyy and Ruben Mate Jengibarjan; and doctoral students Rebeca Marques Rocha and Vlad Surdea-Hernea. The scholarships, established by Ignatieff and his wife Zsuzsanna Zsohar in 2020, honor academic excellence, promising research and community engagement.
Eva Fodor, Professor and Pro-Rector for Teaching and Learning, presented the twelfth annual European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities to Ernesto Vasquez del Aguila, Assistant Professor and the Director of Teaching and Learning for the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice at University College Dublin. In his acceptance speech of the prestigious award accompanied by the Diener Prize, he emphasized that education is the path to liberation and social mobility.
“I firmly believe that education is the most powerful tool to empower our students to achieve social justice and ultimately to change the world. We live in increasingly diverse and multicultural societies, which is, of course, a good thing, but requires us to create an educational environment that is committed to decoloniality, intersectionality and inclusivity for all.” He continued: “It is fundamental to conceive of our students as partners in the process of teaching and learning, and to promote kindness, empathy and compassion as skills embedded in our educational practices.”
CEU's Opening Ceremony also featured welcome addresses from students and faculty. Leila Shavandi, a returning student from Iran pursuing an MA in Comparative History, highlighted the importance of CEU’s mission. Representing incoming students, Lucia Anna Demeny, who is in the MA in Human Rights program, said: "We must remember that our education is not confined to lecture halls and seminar rooms. Together we have the opportunity and reponsibility to create change that extends far beyond the walls of this institution. Let our time here be marked not only by academic excellence, but also by the bonds we forge and the impact that we collectively achieve."
On behalf of the faculty, Associate Professor Eva Wittenberg, from the Department of Cognitive Science, highlighted the common threads connecting those at CEU. She said: "This is an incredible unique opportunity. A new beginning provides some freedom to reinvent ourselves now, building on our strengths, and firmly guided by the beacon of our core mission...to support open and democratic societies that respect human rights and human dignity, and to pursue the creation of new knowledge."
Watch the Opening Ceremony here: