Dies Natalis 2020: #UUgotthis


Today Utrecht University celebrates its 384th anniversary. It is our Dies Natalis. However, there will be no meeting in the Domkerk. It is the first time since the Second World War that this celebration won’t take place. Before that, cancellation only occurred in 1673 and between 1812 and 1816. It shows how the corona crisis intervenes in many social events.

The fact that our celebration is cancelled is of course not a disaster. There are more serious matters at hand. Our thoughts are with the people, from those who are ill or who have lost someone and are not allowed to gather for a funeral, to those who are seriously worried about their income or job.

This crisis demands a lot from everyone. We are being put to a test, also at UU. This applies to all of you. At the same time, we see that the situation brings out the best in people. We are very grateful for what we see happening. Teachers who are switching to online education at breakneck speed - while having to manage their own children at home. Students who are flexible in dealing with the new situation and take actions to help each other and others - for example by tutoring high school students. Researchers who make every effort to continue their important work - not least to combat the virus itself. Utrecht University Fund that has set up a crowdfunding campaign to assist students who come into financial distress. And employees of ITS and the Facilities Service Centre, among others, who do everything in their power to ensure that (online) work can continue safely.

#UUgotthis has become the motto for all of your aspirations, attitude, and commitment. Teaching Talent of the Year, Marij Swinkels, together with three colleagues, get the credit for coining this successful hashtag. Here, they explain, how they came up with the idea. On the anniversary of our University, we would like to share under the tag #UUgotthis a selection of the students’, scientists’ and other staff members’ stories from the past two weeks. They're not just success stories; we're learning and that sometimes means trial and error. Of course, this is only a limited and somewhat random selection; there is so much more. But together these stories represent a small kaleidoscope of who we are: of the expertise, community spirit, resilience, inventiveness and humour in our community. And we would like to share these stories with you! Because the University is still more than just COVID-19, we are also sharing with you the highlights of the past six months.

Finally, a birthday isn't just about inviting your friends, such as alumni and other relationships that are important to Utrecht University. In the Netherlands it is customary to treat others when you celebrate your birthday. This year we have decided on behalf of all of you to have a treat delivered to the colleagues of our sister institution, UMC Utrecht. To thank them on behalf of the entire UU community for the work that is being done there - especially there - at this time.

It is somewhat ineffable, from our home workplaces. In spite of everything we wish you a good Dies Natalis. #UUgotthis!

Warm greetings,

The Executive Board of Utrecht University

Anton Pijpers - President
Annetje Ottow - Vice President
Henk Kummeling - Rector Magnificus