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Inauguration of the academic year 2020-2021

University - 01 December 2020

The Opening Ceremony of the Academic Year 2020-2021 was held on 16 December. Watch here the address of the Rector, Prof. Gianni Canova


"Against the tragic backdrop of a pandemic that shows no sign of letting up, in front of this melancholically empty Auditorium, it seemed to us and it seemed to me that listening again - even in a ceremony like this one - to the voices of politicians, magistrates, economists, scientists, authoritative voices that bounce around every evening from one TV channel to another, in the endless media chatter that often ends up generating misinformation and infodemics, could risk being unproductive, a little redundant, perhaps not very enlightening. We have decided to go back there, where we all come from, and listen again to the extracts of our cultural foundations, to seek in them that direction of march that we all too often seem to have lost".

With these words the Rector Prof. Gianni Canova introduced, in front of an empty Auditorium - with teachers, students and families in streaming connection - the opening ceremony of the academic year 2020/21 of the Iulm University.

For the first time at the opening of an Academic Year, three actors took the stage, not politicians, illustrious guests, economists or scientists: Stefania Rocca, Antonio Albanese and Giuseppe Battiston (the latter connected from Gorizia). Three exceptional interpreters of our cinema who - through the reading of Greek and Latin classics (Thucydides' Pericles, Seneca, Yourcenar's Hadrian and Konstantinos Kavafis). - they echoed distant voices that still have much to tell us. They have sought the contemporary in the outdated. They have led us to rediscover the values of a past world that can perhaps help us a lot to face a hostile present and to prefigure a possible future.

In his report 'Distant voices, always present', the Rector, Prof. Gianni Canova, drew up a balance sheet and indicated a direction of travel for the coming year.

He proudly stated that IULM University has the highest number of women lecturers of all the universities in Milan. "At IULM, one in two lecturers is a woman, without it being necessary to impose pink quotas, but by rewarding merit."

The number of enrolled students is also a source of great satisfaction for the University. Over the last five years, IULM students have increased by 35.1% in the Bachelor's degree courses, by 72.86% in the Master's degree courses, for a total increase in enrolments of 39.03% (2015/20). Enrolments in Executive Master's courses have more than doubled and there has been a significant increase in research grants and researcher positions. The funds available for research have almost doubled and the international relations network is up 57%.

During the pandemic, the University has never slowed down its mission and - in order to help students and families who are experiencing financial difficulties due to Covid-19 - has made available a special fund that has been increased from 500 thousand to 800 thousand euros. IULM also increased the psychological counselling desk and the Career Service to keep contacts with the world of work open. The distance learning system has worked and stood up well to the challenge. From August to December alone, 565,000 hours of teaching were transferred online (the equivalent of 64 years, 7 months and 6 days), 47,640 exams were taken and 1252 three-year students and 491 master's students graduated remotely.

An agreement has just been signed with Teatro alla Scala, whereby IULM, together with its undergraduates and recent graduates, will guarantee the streaming of all the initiatives that the new superintendent intends to launch. In this way," explained the Rector, "we are guaranteeing democratic access also to the public, which traditionally feels a little intimidated by La Scala's institution".

Among the new proposals to expand the educational offer, IULM University is working on the new Bachelor's degree in Digital Humanities and the Master's degree in Artificial Intelligence, Business and Society. There are also five new post-Covid Master's degrees: Curators of the Territory, Communicators of the Agro-Food Industry, Manager of the Performing Arts, Health Communication and Critical Thinking.

Among the innovations announced by the Rector for 2021, there is a new University logo with the redefinition of the visual identity of IULM, new signage on campus, a gym, the Communication Olympics open to students from all over Italy, including high school students, a widespread Museum of Communication within the Campus, the inauguration of the Rome site, a non-virtual exhibition entitled Border Walls on the word of the year 2019/20 Border, but also the inauguration of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and a new online-only and extracurricular course: Foundations. "There are works," explained Canova, "that make us who we are, that have marked Western identity in a profound way and often in our educational paths we forget that we come from there. I have carried out a survey among IULM lecturers and we have decided to set up Fondamenta, a course that every year will propose twelve fundamental works of our cultural tradition, from the Old Testament to the Iliad and the Odyssey, from Roman law to the scientific method and Don Quixote, from the birth of economics to Apocalypse Now".

Finally, the Rector announced the new word of the year. With 48.5%, the IULM community came out clearly in favour of Waiting (the other options were Silence, Invisible, Shadow), which was thus proclaimed the Word of the Year 2021. It will be the focus of events, initiatives and exhibitions that will accompany us throughout the coming year.

Read the Rector's full speech here
Read Pericles' Speech to the Athenians by Thucydides here
Read Seneca's Letter to Lucilius The Value of Time here
Read the poem Waiting for the Barbarians by Konstantinos Kavafis here
Read Varius multiplex multiformis from The Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar here