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Honorary Degrees mark Foundation Day

Universiteit Hasselt - Knowledge in action


On 24th of May, Hasselt University will bestow four honorary degrees to mark its 43rd Foundation Day. The recipients are: Kunlé Adeyemi, Martha C. Nussbaum, Paul Stoffels and Jean-Marie Tarascon. “Our world is undergoing huge transformations on many different levels. Through their outstanding work, our new honorary doctors show the power of resilience. They present us with new ideas to overcome the disruptive challenges our society faces today”, Rector Luc De Schepper says.

Traditionally Hasselt University celebrates its Foundation Day (May 28) by granting honorary degrees to individuals for contributions made to a specific field and/or to society in general. This year the ceremony is themed ‘Resilient Society’: the University pays tribute to its new Doctores Honoris Causa for the way they enhance society’s resilience in a time of rapid change.

Rector Luc De Schepper: “In their work, our new honorary doctors have all introduced innovative ways of looking at the mounting challenges the world faces – economically, environmentally, technologically and demographically. Their work calls for doing better things and doing things better. Their answers provide us with a compass to navigate through disruptive changes and prepare us for future waves of disruption.”
The Faculty of Architecture and Arts nominates architect Kunlé Adeyemi (Nigeria). His agency NLÉ (located in Amsterdam) focusses on projects in developing cities around the world – incorporating local labor and resources, maintaining authenticity. Sustainability is also an important part of Kunlé’s work: he designed the Makoko Floating School, a floating structure located on the Lagos lagoon.

Paul Stoffels M.D. (Belgium), whose name was put forward by the Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, is chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson and worldwide chairman of Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. During Dr. Stoffels’ tenure, Johnson & Johnson developed 15 new pharmaceuticals, including one for prostate cancer treatment. He also stood at the cradle of three successful AIDS drugs. Recently, Paul Stoffels was chosen as one of the 25 most influential people in biopharma worldwide.

The Faculty of Sciences honors Prof. Jean-Marie Tarascon (France) for his visionary work in the field of materials for energy storage in batteries. He founded the Réseau sur le Stockage Électrochimique de l’Énergie at France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Professor Tarascon received some prestigious awards, including the ‘ENI Protection of the Environment Prize’ (2011) and the Royal Society ‘Centenary Prize’ (2015).

Hasselt University grants an honorary degree to philosopher Prof. Martha C. Nussbaum (USA). She is currently the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. Professor Nussbaum is well-known for her work on the capabilities approach (an alternative approach to welfare economics) and a leading voice in the debate on global justice, feminism, ethics (including animal rights) and emotions. Her publications include ‘The Fragility of Goodness’ (1986) and ‘Political Emotions. Why Love Matters For Justice’ (2013).

The Honorary Doctorate Ceremony will take place on 24th of May at campus Diepenbeek. Ceremonies start at 3 p.m.