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2020-21 Academic Year Opening with Ursula von der Leyen

2020-21 Academic Year Opening
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Tra i Leoni followed live the 2020-21 Academic Year Opening ceremony. This year’s guest speaker was European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Bocconi University President Monti and Rector Verona also spoke during the event, Bocconi says, “which will be an opportunity to focus on the importance of human capital, sustainability and innovation“.

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12.18. Ms. von der Leyen was awarded a plate by Bocconi, thanking her for her work as President of the European Commission.

11.48. European Commission President delivered her address.

Bocconi is “a cathedral of human thought“, for Italy and for the whole Europe, along the lines set by Lady Javotte Bocconi, who thought Bocconi should give its contribution in a European dimension. “Bocconi has brought Italy at the core of European policy-making.

Italy is facing the pandemic with resilience, and Milan is as showing remarkable solidarity.

Some countries have been hit first and harder by Covid-19, and some countries face credit constraints. It is a symmetric crisis, with potentially asymmetric consequences among constrained and less constrained countries. This cannot, and will not, be the case.

A struggling economy in one part of Europe weakens a strong economy in another part of Europe.” There is a strong economic rationale for European solidarity: Europe can only recover together.

The single market can only function if the playing field is levelled. A social market economy allows everyone to converge upwards, and it is our European model.

President von der Leyen has worked, she said, to have Europe help Italy during the early stage of the crisis. Already in March, the short-time work support initiative SURE was announced.

Europe is now borrowing a huge amount of resources from future generations, thus the NextGenerationEU plan is to be in favour of future generations. To make the most out of it, Italy will need willingness to reform and a strategic approach to investment. Only with the right reforms Italy can ensure the funds are well and effectively spent (e.g. justice reform); but even more importantly, young people need to be able to find good jobs, and to train if their skills are not adequate. Second, investments should not restart our economies, but make them evolve in a green, digital and resilient framework.

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As Italy was able to recover after World War II, becoming an industrial world power, it can now again transform its economy. Clean energy, such as hydrogen, and reducing energy dispersion by buildings while reviving the building sector are some ideas. Digitalization has also proven essential during the pandemic, and it will in the future: big data, access to high-speed Internet connection, artificial intelligence, safe and neutral data spaces to share information will be at the core.

During the last decades, different European generations have had to choose among the status quo and evolving the Union. It is the case now, too. And students will make those choices in the future.

11.38. Sustainability is the third pillar. Rector Verona welcomed European initiatives in that direction.

Professor De Vries is the newly-appointed Dean for Diversity and Inclusion (you will soon read our interview to her). Bocconi has also expanded the reach of its inclusion programs and worked on safety for all students.

Besides social, also economic sustainability is relevant. Bocconi has collected 120 million € from more than 3500 donors. The Covid Crisis Lab effectively studied the Covid-19 crisis and is publishing papers. It was funded by the Fondazione Invernizzi, which also funded the new European Studies Institute. Other new chairs and laboratories have been supported by donors.

Foundations and Alumni also supported Bocconi students. With regards to Alumni, Silvia Candiani, Microsoft Italy CEO, will preside the association.

Bocconi also commits to environmental sustainability.

11.31. Digital transformation is the second pillar. Bocconi has launched many study programs in the field, including the BSc in artificial intelligence.

The B4i (Bocconi for Innovation) accelerator is already showing encouraging results, with its third call currently open. This year, the ICE innovation (Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship Center) will be launched, supporting entrepreneurs.

Digital education, Rector Verona reported, was a success (though we remember some issues with online lectures, we in general agree) as Bocconi was not caught unprepared by Covid-19. A testimony of this is the 100% increase in new enrollments to SDA Bocconi’s online courses.

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The digital transformation has also impacted services offered by Bocconi: exchange programs, career service initiatives, events. They have been redesigned in order to offer online experiences, and the shift was successful. A relevant event was the one held by the Econometric Society (which we covered in this article).

11.26. Human capital is the first of the three pillars mentioned by Rector Verona. Bocconi is 4th in Europe and 16th in the world in Social Sciences according to QS Rankings (5th and 18th respectively according to US News). SDA Bocconi is 3rd according to FT.

Bocconi’s research quality has been steadily increasing during these years. Bocconi has won 37 ERC grants since 2007, being 3rd in the Economics, Finance and Management panel.

In 2010, Bocconi had 15 active projects financed by means of public grants, for a total of 6 million €. Now, there are 70, for a total of 9 million €.

22 new faculty member will now enrich our faculty. 36% of the 376 faculty are now international, 31% women. Four Bocconi professors are to become chairs of important Economics organizations/journals.

Bocconi now has 282 partner universities and is part of 10 university networks, including CIVICA, sponsored by the European Commission.

The employment rate of Bocconi student stands at 95.7%, with 31.1% outside Italy.

11.18. Rector Verona has spoken.

What we are inaugurating today is an academic year driven by profound transformation,” he said. “Every crisis also carries within it the seed of innovation and new growth, for those who know how to guide it and can leverage the skills, spirit of service and creativity of the entire community.

He underlined the strength of the Covid-19 pandemic-induced crisis, and the “media trap” where some scientists have fallen throughout these months and the lack of preparation in the Italian government’s approach to the second wave.

Times of crisis are the periods that favour innovation“, he said quoting Schumpeter, for those entrepreneurs and nations that can react effectively.

11.15. President Monti read a message to Bocconi students by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She encouraged the students to have faith in the future and recognised Bocconi’s excellent educational level.

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11.02. President Monti welcomed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, highlighting the importance of Europe in the present times and the European dimension of Bocconi University, which is part of the CIVICA alliance of universities sponsored by the block. The strategic plan approved on November 2th, he said, looks at the future and beyond the pandemic.

President von der Leyen’s attendance in streaming is a testament to the European Union’s central role in tackling the pandemic“, he said, “exercised in a tangible, timely and forward-looking manner, and to the Commission’s commitment to youth, sustainability and in general to the great challenges of our time.

This European Commission, President Monti said, was able to transform disruption into construction, reacting effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic and furthering European integration.

President Monti advocated for stronger European integration, giving more power to the Union’s authorities in some fields (the digital one, for instance). He also highglighted how delicate is this moment of clash over the state of low between different member states.

11.00. The opening ceremony is about to begin. “Society, Europe, Future” are this year’s motto.
Rector Verona’s speech will focus on human capital, digital transformation and sustainability, looking forward, beyond the pandemic.

10.45. The ceremony will begin in 15 minutes. Our staff is ready to cover it!


Cover image: European Parliament from EU, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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