Dies Natalis 2022

On Friday 18 March 2022, Ghent University awarded six honorary doctorates for scientific merits. Unfortunately, the institutional honorary doctorate for Frans Timmermans had to be postponed.

Live at the Aula, and via livestream

The Dies Natalis celebration of 2021 was set up completely digitally because of corona. Fortunately, things are improving: the honorary doctors were again honored live in 2022 during an official ceremony in the Aula on Friday 18 March at 15:30. But if you wanted, you could also follow the ceremony via the livestream, which is now to be seen as a recording:

After the awarding of the Honorary Doctorates (see below) Honorary Doctor David Julius gave the acceptance speech on behalf of all Honorary Doctors.

Meet the honorary doctors

On Dies Natalis, this year on 18 March, Ghent University awarded six honorary doctorates for scientific merits. Normally, there would also have been the award of an institutional honorary doctorate to Frans Timmermans, but unfortunately this had to be postponed.

Doctor Barney Scott Graham

Dr. Barney Scott GrahamViral Pathogenesis Laboratory and Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland (United States)
Promotor: Professor Xavier Saelens, Faculty of Sciences

Dr. Barney has had an enormous impact on the field of immunology and virology. He has developed vaccines and antibody-based therapies to prevent and treat illnesses caused by countless viruses, among which are HIV, ebola, RSV and coronaviruses. His vision of investment in fundamental research to find out how these viruses penetrate human cells enabled the extremely rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Professor David Julius

Copyright UCSFDepartment of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco (United States)
Promotor: Professor Frank Bosmans, Faculty of Medecine and Health Sciences

Our ability to feel hot and cold through touch is essential to our survival and determines the way we interact with the world around us. In our daily lives, these sensations seem self-evident. But how can nerve impulses triggered by temperature be observed? This complex question was answered by David Julius, Nobel prize winner of Medicine and Physiology of 2021.

Take a look at the lecture given by Honorary Doctor Julius and Professor Holly Ingraham: 'Sex Differences in Metabolism and Gut Physiology' 

Professor Paul Robbrecht and Madam Hilde Daem

Foto Michiel HendryckxRobbrecht en Daem architecten (Belgium)
Promotor: Professor Maarten Van Den Driessche, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture

Through their architecture firm Robbrecht en Daem architecten, their work has become a visible presence in their hometown Ghent and many other cities in Belgium. Besides the newly-renovated Boekentoren, they have completed many other remarkable projects both in Belgium and abroad. Their approach is praised internationally and several of their projects have won important prizes.


Professor Ann Langley

Professor Ann LangleyDepartment of Management, HEC Montreal, Quebec (Canada)
Promotors: Professor Katrien Verleye and Professor Paul Gemmel, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration

The work done by Prof. Langley – a Canadian professor in Management at HEC Montréal who also holds a chair in Strategic Management in Pluralistic Settings – inspired countless researchers in the field of Management Sciences to develop process theories about how and why organisations, systems and other phenomena evolve through time and what the implications are thereof.

Professor Kari Smith

Professor Kari SmithDepartment of Teacher Education/ NAFOL, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim (Norway)
Promotor: Professor Ruben Vanderlinde, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

Professor Kari Smith plays a prominent roll internationally in the development of research-based teacher education and in stressing the societal importance of teacher educators. With this honorary doctorate, the faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences emphasizes the importance of academically educated teachers, something Ghent University itself also invests in with its new Educational Masters program.

Professor Diane Reay

Professor Diane ReayUniversity of Cambridge & London School of Economics and Political Science (SLE) (United Kingdom)
Promotor: Professor Mieke Van Houtte, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences

Diane Reay is a sociologist and is known for her research into social inequality in education. She focusses on the cultural aspects of inequality and shows how specific selection mechanisms in education reinforce existing social classes, paying special attention to the overlapping impact of social class, gender and ethnicity.


Mister Frans Timmermans

Frans TimmermansExecutive Vice-president of the European Commission for the European Green Deal
Promotor: Professor Rik Van de Walle, Rector
Unfortunately, the institutional honorary doctorate had to been postponed.

As Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans is indefatigably dedicated to putting complex climate issues on the agenda and in the spotlight. 

Dies Natalis at Ghent University

Every year, on the penultimate Friday of March, Ghent University celebrates its Dies Natalis or birthday with a solemn session in the Aula and the presentation of honorary doctorates. Contrary to what you might think, this celebration is a fairly recent ritual.

Read more about the history of our Dies Natalis (in Dutch)
Watch Dies Natalis and the honorary doctors from 2005 to 2019 (in 2020 there was no ceremony due to Covid-19, and in 2021 the ceremony was fully online)