Quod bonum felix faustumque sit!
May this bring you luck, happiness and prosperity. With this greeting Sigmund Grønmo handed the rector necklace to Dag Rune Olsen.
The rector necklace handover is one of the most prominent traditions at the University of Bergen (UiB). Professor Sigmund Grønmo has served as rector since 2005 and at the handover ceremony in Håkonshallen he traced the history of the necklace.
“On one occasion the famous scientist Isaac Newton stated: ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants’. When I received the necklace eight years ago it had graced the shoulders of my prominent predecessors,” Grønmo said before referring to UiB’s ten previous rectors by name.
“It is with pride and humility that I have worn this necklace. With the best wishes I place the rector necklace around the neck of my successor, Dag Rune Olsen.”
A necklace with traditions
The rector necklace may weigh no more than 520 grams, but it weighs heavy with traditions and symbols. The necklace consists of 15 parts: eight that feature the owl from UiB’s logo, six featuring Wilhelm Frimann Koren Christie’s crest, founder of the University Museum of Bergen, and one with the city of Bergen’s coat of arms. In front there is a locket with the university’s logo.
The necklace was designed by goldsmith Trygve Eriksen, and was presented to UiB’s first rector, Bjørn Trumpy, in 1950. This was two years after his inauguration as a gift from senior academics in Bergen.
New direction for UiB
“At the university we keep certain ceremonies that confirm and reinforce our basic academic values. This however does not mean that the university does not keep track with the times or is an anachronistic institution,” new Rector Dag Rune Olsen said. “The institution of the university can be traced back 1,000–1,500 years and is amongst the oldest living institutions in modern society.”
Olsen then spoke of how he and his vice-rectors want the university to develop in the next few years.
“The university can only be relevant to society if we are capable of setting long-term goals and to prioritise basic, free and independent research,” he said.
He described how universities have changed from being the playground of the well to do to become a common good.
“This presents us with challenges both when it comes to resources and education,” Olsen said before stating that the university must work continuously to improve quality in education and that one never can be completely satisfied.
“In future education digital tools will form a part of most learning methods. We want to equip the university for this trend – aiming for quality of education and internationalisation,” Olsen said.
“We will add resources to further develop UiB as an internationally orientated university. Just like the city of Bergen, the university is not limited by the city borders,” he said.
Rector Olsen finished his speech by talking about future collaborations between various academic disciplines.
“In the future many breakthroughs in research will be based on cooperation across disciplines. This again gives rise to new disciplines,” he said. “The University of Bergen will help to create new disciplines and to exercise interdisciplinary research of high quality. This is because we have high quality research across a number of disciplines and this creates the basis for interdisciplinary work.”
Summing up his time as rector
Professor Grønmo spent a lot of his speech summing up the highlights of his time as rector. He spoke about the restoration of the University Museum of Bergen and its auditorium, the university’s progress in international rankings, the increase in external research funding, the high number of student applications and the increasing number of doctoral degrees.
“The number of PhDs has increased from 150 per annum to 250 per annum since 2005. This means that I have signed the diplomas of 40 per cent of all doctoral graduates at UiB since the university’s founding in 1946,” Grønmo said.
The outgoing rector also spoke of academic values under pressure and pointed to the broad research and research-based education is important to define the distinctive character of a university such as UiB.
(Translation: Sverre Ole Drønen.)