On Monday, 8 January the University of Amsterdam (UvA) celebrated its 386th Dies Natalis (anniversary). The ceremony was opened by UvA rector magnificus Karen Maex with a speech titled ‘The international paradox’. Harry Buhrman, professor of Computing Science, delivered the traditional Dies speech, which focused on the quantum computing revolution. Honorary doctorates were also awarded to addiction expert Nora Volkow and linguist Barbara Partee.
In her speech, Prof. Maex spoke on the subject of internationalisation. The rector opened her speech by posing the question: 'what is the UvA’s role in a society that is becoming more internationalised and what kind of education policy and internationalisation policy are appropriate in this context?' According to Maex, too little thought is currently given to striking the right balance on three different levels: between Dutch and international students, between Dutch and English in the wider university environment, and between programmes in Dutch and English.
Maex concluded her speech by stating that: ‘we must recognise and set the limits of growth in internationalisation, to ensure that we can go on providing quality and added value. We must adapt our policy to this, set requirements for the learning objectives of Dutch as well as of English programmes, and adapt the curricula accordingly in a balanced portfolio of Dutch and English programs. All of this so we can continue to mould ourselves, over the next decade, into a bilingual, internationally oriented and culturally integrated university.’
In his Dies speech, Harry Burhman spoke about the coming revolution in quantum computers. Before this happens, however, several strides still need to made, particularly in the area of privacy and security. Buhrman stressed the importance of focusing research not only hardware but also on software.
Following the Dies speech, honorary doctorates were awarded to Barbara Partee, an internationally influential linguist, and Dr Nora Volkow, a globally respected expert in the field of addiction research.
Barbara H. Partee (1940) is Distinguished University Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst, Massachusetts). Partee played a crucial role in the development of formal semantics of natural language.
Nora D. Volkow (1956) is director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Bethesda, Maryland), which supports most of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. She has done pioneering work by being one of the first researchers to study the brains of patients suffering from drug addiction with the use of neuro-imaging.
The afternoon was brought to a close by a delegation from the three study associations MFAS, VOS-Linguistics en AmFiBi, which gave a short presentation about the work done by their respective associatons and held a short quiz for the audience.