The doctorate honoris causa (Honorary Doctorate) is conferred as a way of honouring a distinguished person’s contributions to a specific field or to society in general. The awardee is nominated by the University Council based upon a proposal from one of the Faculties (article 38, USI statute). The Honorary Doctorate is awarded during the Dies academicus or – in certain cases – on other special occasions.
USI Honorary Doctorates
Thus far, USI has conferred the Honorary Doctorate to the following persons (the indicated affiliations refer to the year of the honorary doctorate):
Internationally renowned semiologist and linguist
Honorary Doctorate in Communication Sciences "for having contributed in a decisive way to the understanding of the organic link between culture and communication, developing, together with Jurij M. Lotman, a semiotic conception of cultural production and transmission, and for having given substance to this conception through an inexhaustible practice of analysis, exercised with philological rigour on the figurative arts, on religious and political symbols, on the cultural significance of historical events".
Awarded on May 4, 2019, during the 23rd Dies academicus.
Professor emeritus at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa
Honorary Doctorate in Architecture “for his scientific merits in the field of architectural history and theory of the Italian Renaissance, innovatively investigated also as a socio-cultural phenomenon and for the breadth of Palladianism in the world”.
Awarded on May, 5, 2018, during 22nd Dies academicus.
Dipl. Bauingenieur ETH / SIA, Conzett Bronzini Partner AG
Honorary Doctorate in Architecture “for his ability to combine structural analysis, architectural culture, perception of space and landscape as a contemporary expression of that very fine Swiss tradition of cultured and innovative civil engineering”.
Awarded on May 5, 2018, during 22nd Dies academicus.
Professor at Brown University
Professor at University College London
Professor at Queen’s University (Kingston, Canada)
Honorary Doctorate in Communication Sciences to “acknowledge his pioneering research dedicated to the challenges of information society and his active involvement in key issues in contemporary sociology such as, privacy, electronic surveillance, and ethics of identification”.
Awarded on April 23, 2016, during 20th Dies academicus.
Professor at the Università di Bologna
Honorary Doctorate from in Architecture “for his superior studies dedicated to the theory and history of Geographical Thought, the dimensional foundations of Western culture and the genesis of the modern concept of landscape”.
Awarded on April 18, 2015, during 19th Dies academicus.
Professor at the University of Lausanne and former Vice President of the Swiss National Bank
Professor at the Université de Montréal
Co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of Wikimedia
One of most influential names in Italian photography
John D. Sterman
Professor of Management and Engineering System at the MIT Sloan School of Management (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston)
Barbara H. Liskov
Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The first woman in the US to obtain a PhD in Computer Science
Internationally renowned theorist and historian of architecture
Honorary Doctorate in Architecture “for his innovative contributions to the theory and history of architecture, an expression of his broad humanistic and intellectual conviction, which prominently elevated the debate at an institutional and professional level even beyond the Swiss context”.
Awarded on May 14, 2011, during 15th Dies academicus.
Frans H. van Eemeren
Professor at the University of Amsterdam. Founder of the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation
Honorary Doctorate in Communication Sciences “for his decisive contribution to the study of argumentation, understood as a critical and reasonable method for settling differences of opinion, which led to the formulation of an argumentation model that reconciles argumentation and rhetoric, specifying the criteria for validity of the process of argumentation and communicative conditions for its effectiveness”.
Awarded on April 17, 2010, during 14th Dies academicus.
Director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics at the University of Zurich
David Lorge Parnas
Pioneer in software engineering
Well-known and innovative Italian artist
Honorary Doctorate in Architecture “for the lucidity with which he investigates spatial issues without losing sight of the specifics of their own figurative language, and for his continuous research capable of conferring an evocative and poetic dimension to spatial analysis, which is certainly a reference point for architects”.
Awarded on April 19, 2008, during 12th Dies academicus.
Professor Emeritus of Informatics and Communication at Stehdahl University (Grenoble III)
Honorary Doctorate in Communication Sciences “for having provided, with his research, a fundamental contribution to the understanding of the relationship between industrial development of the media, technological innovation and the transformation of society”.
Awarded on May 12, 2007, during 11th Dies academicus.
Giuseppe Panza di Biumo
One of the greatest and most innovative contemporary art collectors
Honorary Doctorate in Architecture “for having promoted artists and movements inspired by poetic space with intensity and efficacy, and in doing so having shown architects new pathways that have enriched the references and principles of their discipline and encouraged the development of aesthetic research on spatiality from a contemporary perspective”.
Awarded on May 14, 2005, during 9th Dies academicus.
Robert F. Engle
Professor at New York University
Honorary Doctorate in Economics “in recognition of his role as pioneer in the elaboration of mathematic models for the measurement between economic and financial variables, with particular regard to co-integration analysis of prices and the volatility of returns”.
Awarded on October 21, 2003, during 7th Dies academicus.
John R. Searle
Professor at University of California, Berkeley
Honorary Doctorate in Communication Sciences “for his extraordinary contributions to the understanding of the foundations of Communication Sciences, with particular regard to relationships between the mind, action, language and processes of construction of social reality”.
Awarded on May 23, 2003, during the series of keynote lectures The philosophical foundations of the Communication Sciences.