Dies Natalis 2021 online edition

On- and offline. Always connected. This is how Ghent University opened its academic year in September. We’re embracing that same connectedness for Dies Natalis 2021.

Follow Dies Natalis from your home

Different than usual. And yet again, not. One tradition remains intact: once again our honorary doctorates take center stage. Eight inspiring figures who excel and have an enormous impact. Not only in their own field or industry, but also in society at large. Watch the entire digital celebration right here.

Meet the honorary doctors

Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-LeeInventor of the World Wide Web, Chief Technology Officer Inrupt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States), University of Oxford (United Kingdom)
Promotor: Professor Rik Van de Walle, Rector

Computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the inventor of the World Wide Web, the HTTP protocol and HTML, the markup language for web pages, based on ideas which he developed from 1989 onwards at CERN. He is also CTO of Inrupt.

Meet Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and watch his laudatio and expression of gratitude

Mr. Milo Rau

Milo RauSwiss theatre director and author, Artistic Director of the NTGent
Promotor: Professor Rik Van de Walle, Rector

His work is frequently considered controversial, Milo Rau actually aims for more than pure controversy: time and time again, he encourages his audience to leave the well-trodden path and let go of stubborn habits, he tries to ignite a social debate on all kinds of often very universal topics, and create the opportunity for change.

Meet Milo Rau, and watch his laudatio and expression of gratitude

Professor Iain Stewart

Professor Iain StewartDirector Sustainable Earth Institute
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth (United Kingdom)
Promotor: Professor Marc Van Meirvenne, Dean of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering

In Professor Iain Stewart, the Faculty sees not only a scientist who can link the theme of Planet Earth to the activities of their own faculty, but also an expert who knows how to bring this theme across domains and to a wide audience.

Meet Professor Iain Stewart, and watch his laudatio and expression of gratitude

Professor Dame Mary Beard

Professor Dame Mary BeardNewnham College, University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
Promotors: Professor Lieve Van Hoof & Professor Koen Verboven, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

As a classica, Professor Dame Mary Beard moves effortlessly at the intersection of literature, history, archeology and art studies. She enjoys worldwide recognition for her commitment to making the classics accessible to a wide audience.

Meet Professor Dame Mary Beard, and watch her laudatio and expression of gratitude

Professor John Knox

Professor John KnoxWake Forest University School of Law (North Carolina, United States)
Promotor: Professor Luc Lavrysen, Faculty of Law and Criminology

Professor Knox teaches and researches in the broad field of international law, international environmental law, international human rights, international trade law, environmental law and property law. He is one of the pioneers in bridging the gap between environmental law and human rights with leading publications on the subject worldwide.

Meet Professor John Knox and watch his laudatio and expression of gratitude

Professor Katrin Hinrichs

Professor Katrin HinrichsClinical Studies-New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania (United States)
Promotor: Professor Ann Van Soom, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Professor Hinrichs is best know to the horse-owning world for her unique contributions to equine cloning and in vitro fertilization. She is a pioneer in assisted reproductive techniques in horses and was involved, among other things, in the birth of the first foal from an in vitro produced embryo in North America.

Meet Professor Katrin Hinrichs and watch her laudatio and expression of gratitude

Professor Dave Goulson

Professor Dave GoulsonSchool of Life Sciences, University of Sussex (United Kingdom)
Promotor: Professor Guy Smagghe, Faculty of Bioscience Engeneering

Professor Goulson specializes in the ecology and conservation of insects (particularly bumblebees). He is strongly committed to science and society, and the popularization of research and its flow into society.  In 2006 he founded, among other things, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a charity that aims to reverse the decline in the bumblebee population.

Meet Professor Dave Goulson and watch his laudatio and expression of gratitude

Dr. Ajit Baron Shetty

Dr Ajit Baron ShettyFormer Managing Director Janssen Pharmaceuticals & Corporate Vice-President Johnson & Johnson, Chairman Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (Belgium)
Promotor: Professor Dieter Deforce, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Doctor Shetty does not have the profile of an academic, but was - and still is - very deserving of scientific research in the pharmaceutical sciences. He has facilitated and enabled research at the managerial level.

Meet Doctor Ajit Baron Shetty and watch his laudatio and expression of gratitude

Dies Natalis at Ghent University

Every year, on the penultimate Friday of March, Ghent University celebrates its Dies Natalis or birthday with a solemn session in the Aula and the presentation of honorary doctorates. Contrary to what you might think, this celebration is a fairly recent ritual.

Read more about the history of our Dies Natalis (in Dutch)
Watch Dies Natalis and the honorary doctors from 2005 to 2019