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ETH Life - wissen was laeuft ETH Life - wissen was laeuft

ETH - Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zuerich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
Section: Campus Life
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Published: 05.07.2007, 06:00
Modified: 04.07.2007, 21:05
First Homecoming Day at ETH Zurich
Great curiosity among former students

The first Homecoming Day of ETH Zurich aroused lively interest among former students. About 1200 alumni found their way back to ETH Zurich at the weekend from 23 – 24 June 2007. They saw what ETH Zurich is doing today, discovered the direction in which it wants to develop, and remembered old times in a convivial atmosphere.

Felix Würsten

It was an atmospheric reunion: about 1200 alumni of ETH Zurich from a total of 17 countries retraced their steps to their alma mater last weekend and shared in celebrating the Institute’s first Homecoming Day. (1) The initial stimulating contacts were already taking place on Friday afternoon. Topical themes surrounding ETH Zurich were discussed in three workshops at the Alumni Forum 07. There was a large measure of agreement that there should be more intensive exchange between the Institute, industry and alumni. It was felt that the former students in particular should play a more active role in this “trialogue”: Firstly, based on their practical experience, they would be able to show ETH Zurich the areas in which the Institute could improve itself. Secondly the alumni could also give greater active support to the Institute either as patrons or by promoting the Institute’s interests in their own environment.

An atmospheric celebration

As expected, Saturday encountered a particularly large response. Large numbers of former students used the opportunity to visit their former training grounds. Most of the departments also organised a special program of visits for the occasion, during which they also opened their research laboratories and experimental installations. The guided tour through Science City allowed a look into the future. Led by knowledgeable guides, the visitors were able to find out at first hand about the planned expansion of the campus on the Hönggerberg.

Then the great alumni festivity in the evening provided an opportunity for old colleagues to meet again, as well as making new acquaintances. The visitors enjoyed the tranquil summer evening on the Hönggerberg campus until late into the night. The sociable evening was opened by the representatives of the Canton and the City of Zurich. Canton government member Regine Aeppli explained that as Director of Education she welcomed the good collaboration between ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. Co-operative projects had already been agreed upon at an early stage in various areas, to the benefit of all participants. City councillor Martelli drew attention to the fact that the townscape of Zurich was decisively shaped by the two institutions of higher education – not only in the centre with its historic buildings but also on the Hönggerberg campus.

Zest and enthusiasm

In his committed speech, Konrad Osterwalder, Rector and President pro tem. of ETH Zurich, explained that ETH Zurich wanted to think outside the box again and again. To do this it needed researchers who wanted to think outside the box and students who wanted to learn how to think outside the box successfully. Alluding to the current turmoil in higher education institutions, Osterwalder explained that ETH Zurich did not want any pedantry or amalgamation, but wished to continue treading its well-tried path. His comment that the abbreviation ETH stood for “Ever True to Herself” was greeted with much applause from the audience.

Finally the future ETH Zurich President Ralph Eichler addressed the audience. He said he was not greatly in favour of making announcements, therefore did not want to say much about his new task yet. Nevertheless, Eichler promised he would take up his new office with great zeal and enthusiasm.

Finally the Homecoming Day drew to an atmospheric close on Sunday morning in the “Dozentenfoyer” faculty club restaurant. Using quotations from his own works, the author Hugo Loetscher showed how globalisation changes awareness in writing. The much-travelled author said that when he thought about what was nearby, it always pointed to things far away as well. At the same time he discovered over and over again distant things that reminded him of his homeland.

Ralph Eichler, the new President of ETH Zurich, discussed the Institute’s future with former students at the Alumni Forum. large

Vice-president Gerhard Schmitt showed the guests how the Hönggerberg campus is to be expanded to Science City. large

City councillor Kathrin Martelli (l.) and canton government member Regine Aeppli addressed the audience as representatives of the City and Canton of Zurich. large

Former students were able to wallow in memories in glorious summer weather on the terrace of the Physics department restaurant. large

The author Hugo Loetscher drew the proceedings to a dignified conclusion on Sunday morning in the faculty club restaurant. large

(1) You can find impressions of the Homecoming Day on the home page of the ETH Alumni Association:

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