48th Dies Natalis: an overview

Friday 26 January 2024 marked the 48th Dies Natalis of Maastricht University. We celebrated this annual special occasion with inspiring speeches, awards, and music at the St. Janskerk.

After a keynote lecture by Professor Robert Dur, three honorary doctorates as well as the Wynand Wijnen Education Prize, the Dissertation Prize, and the Student Prizes were awarded. Singer-songwriter and FASoS-alumnus Joshua Oudendijk, also known as 'Josh Island', accompanied the ceremony.

On this page, we give you an overview of this festive day.

 Learn more about the event
 Browse through the slideshow with pictures from the day
 View all videos from the ceremony
 See the overview of this year’s awards 
Discover the winners of the Student Prizes

‘Talent unlimited: the labour we need, the potential we can’t waste’

’If we don’t question our ideas around talent, we will have an economic downturn. Whether we want to or not – we certainly have to do what is by most accounts the right thing: to allow everyone a challenge, a chance to grow, a chance to contribute. To succeed as a whole, we need to give everyone a chance to make the most out of their potential – for their sake, for ours.’’ 

With these words, our Rector Magnificus Pamela Habibović, opened the ceremony of the 48th Dies Natalis with this year’s theme 'Talent Unlimited: the labour we need, the potential we can't waste.'

Professor Robert Dur from the Faculty of Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam built upon the theme and the societal issues we face with his keynote lecture titled 'Empowering and unlocking talent to tackle society’s most pressing challenges’. His message to address these challenges was: ‘’If we want to keep our high standards of living and, at the same time, adequately address the major societal challenges we are facing, we need to become more productive. One way to increase productivity is to make work more meaningful. The returns in terms of workers’ motivation and hence productivity can be spectacular.’’

''One way to increase productivity is to make work more meaningful.''

Professor Robert Dur

The pursuit of meaningful work and the dedication to making a significant contribution also clearly motivated the recipients of the honorary doctorates this year. Professors Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks received a joint honorary doctorate for devising and developing the concept of 'multilevel governance.' As political scientists, they have collaborated for over 30 years to establish this concept. The honorary doctorate is one of the highlights in their collaborative career, as mentioned by Professor Hooghe in their speech: ‘’We looked forward to this moment over the past months with excitement, mixed with amazement.  We will remember this day with deep pleasure and appreciation. Gary and Liesbet are not done. You are not done. We all are not done.’’

''Gary and Liesbet are not done. You are not done. We all are not done.''

Professor Liesbet Hooghe

Additionally, Professor Christian Leuz was awarded with an honorary doctorate for his contributions as an international economist in advancing knowledge about transparency in capital markets, including sustainability and ESG. In his speech, he shared: ‘’Academic work is a marathon. It is not a sprint. It takes years to conduct and publish research, and even longer to see its impact. That's why it is particularly special when one's work is eventually recognized in this way.’’ 

''Academic work is a marathon. It is not a sprint. It takes years to conduct and publish research, and even longer to see its impact.''

Professor Christian Leuz

Impressions from the 48th Dies Natalis

(Re)experience the highlights of this day with all the photos we have gathered for you.

  Click the icon above to view the entire series.
Photos: Philip Driessen.

Videos of the 48th Dies Natalis

Below, you can view the livestream video and all the videos shown during the event.

Annual awards

 This year, the Wynand Wijnen Education Prize was awarded to TeenzCollege, the educational programme for ambitious high school students. This initiative encourages young people to get to know our university at an early stage and positively contributes to attracting talent in our region. Professor Bert Smeets accepted the award on behalf of the entire TeenzCollege team.

The Dissertation Prize was awarded to Sven Hildebrand from the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience for his thesis 'Investigating human neocortical architecture in 3D: New approaches for clearing, labelling, and imaging large samples.'

Student Prizes

Every year, we acknowledge the best bachelor’s and master’s theses of our students during the Dies Natalis celebration. They receive a reward of five hundred euros, a certificate, and a small gift from the Rector Magnificus.