Publish Date: 05.12.2019

Category: News from the University

The University of Ljubljana commemorated its 100th anniversary with a gala celebration held at Cankarjev Dom. The festive event was crowned by the national decoration bestowed by Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor on the Rector of the University of Ljubljana, Prof. Igor Papič.  

The anniversary year of Slovenia’s oldest and largest university was accompanied by numerous events, which will continue to take place until June 2020, but the main event was concluded tonight, on the University’s 100th anniversary. The gala celebration held at Cankarjev Dom, which, in addition to the audience present in the Gallus Hall, was also broadcast live on national television, began in especially formal tones. The honorary patron of the event, Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor, conferred on the University of Ljubljana a national decoration in honour of its centenary: the Order of Merit for Distinguished Service for contributions to the spiritual and cultural development of the Slovenian nation, promotion of the Slovenian language, and outstanding achievements in science and education.

The University of Ljubljana’s Rector, Prof. Igor Papič, took the opportunity to thank everyone who helped establish, maintain and develop the University. He pointed out that throughout its history, even in less favourable times, the University of Ljubljana remained focused on the prevailing trends in European and global research and the humanities, always treating them in a comprehensive manner: in terms of nature, society and the individual. “I am certain that knowledge is Slovenia’s greatest potential. Only knowledge can ensure the development that will place Slovenia among those nations that are the most successful.” Despite the widest possible accessibility of study, Slovenian society still struggles to understand the University as an autonomous, free laboratory of knowledge, skills and deliberation, which must also be critical, noted the Rector in his speech.

The keynote speaker, Prof. Frederick Duncan Michael Haldane, PhD, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, and an honorary doctor of the University of Ljubljana, emphasised that even small nations, such as Slovenia, can contribute to world science and technology, and that the creative efforts of the part of the population educated in science and technology are becoming increasingly important, as they constitute a prerequisite for any economy based on modern technology. “Whether we like it or not, the world is changing rapidly, and this development is seen in artificial intelligence, robotics, self-driving vehicles and blockchain, all of which are moving forward. I strongly believe that the key role of the University in this is to provide the tools of opportunity to talented young people, so that they can imagine and build the future”, Haldane noted. He believes that the University’s essential role is to teach students how to think for themselves, so they might bring some fresh ideas to solve the problems of today’s world. 

The artistic programme of the gala celebration, which followed the speeches, was a comprehensive event, authored and performed by the students, members and graduates of the University of Ljubljana. A seven-part composition entitled SEDEM POTI K POZORNOSTI was based on the concept of the seven liberal arts and realised as a piece of music, an orchestral suite entitled SEPTEM ARTES LIBERALES, which was created especially for this occasion by a student of the Academy of Music of the University of Ljubljana, Leon Firšt. The piece was premièred by the three student orchestras of the Academy of Music of the University of Ljubljana: the symphonic orchestra, the extended percussion band and the jazz big band. The musical composition included texts by the Slovenian poet Srečko Kosovel, who himself studied at the then newly-established University of Ljubljana between 1922 and 1926.

The event’s content was guided by a document entitled Mission of the University of Ljubljana (1996), which highlights the fundamental values of a modern university, ranging from respecting tradition to academic autonomy, and from research excellence to ethical approaches to teaching, their common denominator being the sustained attention paid by all participants in the study process to each other, their work and the world around us. This attention is also the lever by means of which the University establishes a critical attitude to its own work and to what is happening in Slovenian society, people’s communities and nature.

The event was directed by Mare Bulc, while the script for the artistic programme was written by Primož Vitez. Other contributors included the set designer Petra Veber, costume designer Sanja Grcić, conductor Simon Dvoršak, authors of visual graphics Luka Umek and Emil Kozole and co-author Akaša Bojić, with soloists Bojan Gorišek (piano), Mojca Bitenc (soprano), Jožica Avbelj (actress), Tamara Avguštin (actress) and Leja Jurišić (dancer).

Photo highlights of the event can be viewed here.
All photographs were taken by STA.