Amsterdam University College celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a series of activities and events that included a festive birthday cake and flag hoisting, the formal Dies Natalis ceremony at the KIT Royal Tropical Institute on 27 September and a special dinner for alumni and student party at SkateCafe on 1 October. These celebrations marked the start of a year-long series of events in honour of AUC's second Lustrum taking place throughout 2019-2020.
Established in 2009, AUC now counts over 1500 alumni, 900 enrolled students, more than 500 exchange students, and around 70 lecturers and staff members as part of its ever-growing community. Over the past 10 years, AUC has continued to take innovative steps to proudly live up to its motto of “Excellence and diversity in a global city”.
AUC wants to honour this milestone by hosting special Lustrum-related events throughout 2019-2020. The aim of these events is to bring various groups of the wider AUC and local communities together to critically engage with notions of excellence, diversity and internationalisation through celebrations, community participation and academic enquiry.
The first two months revolve around looking back at the successes and challenges AUC has faced in these first ten years, while the second half of the academic year will be dedicated to how AUC can evolve to address the rapid changes of the 21st century.
The official opening ceremony of Amsterdam University College took place on 22 September 2009. In order to observe this momentous occasion, a special birthday cake was ordered for students and staff to enjoy on Monday, 23 September 2019. The day also saw the ceremonial hoisting a newly designed Lustrum flag, which will fly outside of the AUC building throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.
In the context of the Lustrum year, AUC held its formal Dies Natalis ceremony on Friday, 27 September 2019 at the same location where the original opening ceremony took place ten years ago: KIT Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. The evening featured a mix of contributions from students, faculty, alumni and community members that not only looked back at experiences and achievements of the last 10 years but also examined the future of the institute and liberal arts and sciences education.
The evening programme began with a reception in the Marble Hall of KIT where visitors could meet and reconnect with familiar faces from the AUC community. Upon moving into the elegant Queen Máxima Hall, the formal proceedings were introduced by the hosts of the evening, Gerylaine Campos (Alumni and External Relations Officer, AUC) and Huan Hsu (Senior Tutor, AUC). After an original performance by musicians and AUC alumni Eva Bottinga (Class of 2018) and Marie Chaplet (Class of 2018), Prof. Dr. Murray Pratt (Dean, AUC) took the stage to welcome guests, acknowledge the contributions of AUC’s founders and offer insights on the importance of transdisciplinary study and intersectionalities in addressing multi-layered and urgent "big questions."
This sentiment of needing to recognise the complexity of contemporary problems continued with two examples from AUC alumni. Saga Norrby (Class of 2019) delivered a TED-style talk titled “Which truth do you need to hear?” which stressed the need to directly face the consequences of climate change and acknowledge one’s own accountability, while Leon Lan (Class of 2018) and Khaled Tamimy (Class of 2018) discussed their current work of reducing inequality in higher education by countering the effects of ‘shadow education’ in university preparation.
Prof. Dr. Vinod Subramaniam (Rector Magnificus, VU Amsterdam) and Prof. Dr. Geert ten Dam (President of the Executive Board, University of Amsterdam) offered an uplifting perspective on how the AUC curriculum fosters critical thinkers that are necessary in solving societal problems in times of rapid change.
Prof. Dr. Vinod Subramaniam (Rector Magnificus, VU Amsterdam) and Prof. Dr. Geert ten Dam (President of the Executive Board, University of Amsterdam) then offered an uplifting perspective on behalf of the VU and UvA on how they have seen AUC grow into an institution that fosters the creative-thinkers and changemakers necessary in a world where problems and careers are increasingly interdisciplinary.
These perspectives from the VU and UvA provided a segue for Prof. Dr. Marijk van der Wende (Founding Dean, AUC) and Dr. Ramon Puras (former AUC Acting Dean and Director of Education) to present a video which offered insight and reflections from various members of AUC’s initial group of founders, curriculum designers and employees about how the project came about, what goals they hoped to realise and what they wish for AUC in the future.
The audience was then asked to provide their opinion on the direction of AUC’s future through an interactive questionnaire designed by Dr. Niels van Manen (Lecturer, AUC & VU). With the results tallied, it was time to ask how the most important part of the AUC community felt about the institute and its impact: the students.
Through an alumni panel discussion led by host Huan Hsu, AUC alumni Sahar Afzal (Class of 2019), Jan Willem Bruggeman (Class of 2016) and Sanne Hettinga (Class of 2012) were asked to share their experiences of being a student at AUC, to describe some of their most memorable moments, to express their hope for liberal arts and sciences education in the future and to recount anecdotes related to being challenged, celebrating successes and overcoming failures. The differences and similarities between the three generations of students highlighted how AUC’s core values have remained relevant, while also underscoring how the programme has evolved over time.
The programme concluded with an inspiring keynote address from Prof. Dr. Teun Dekker (Professor of Liberal Arts and Science Education, University College Maastricht) titled “Rethinking Excellence for the Future of Liberal Arts Education”. Throughout the speech, he discussed the nature of liberal arts and sciences, and the need to reexamine ideas such as excellence, diversity and liberal principles as society evolves. Upon the conclusion of the speech, guests were invited for a reception to continue discussing, reminiscing and connecting as part of the AUC community.
Extending the celebration into October, AUC collaborated with the AUC Alumni Association to host a Lustrum alumni dinner at SkateCafe in Amsterdam North. Enjoying a three-course vegetarian meal at a discount in SkateCafe’s industrial-meets-cosy compound, more than 125 alumni attended to dine with former classmates and meet fellow alumni from other years. Later in the evening, the tables were removed and current AUC students joined for a party that featured live entertainment from current and former AUC students.
In the following months, the AUC Lustrum year will continue with a variety of events, conferences and contests. You can find a listing of planned events below with more details being announced as the dates approach.