‘In the previous academic year – just as in the year before that – many defences could not take place at a physical location. Instead of in the Aula or the Agnietenkapel, the PhD candidates had to defend their theses from behind their computers. This was naturally extremely disappointing. The defence is a watershed moment, the end of years of intensive work. It is important to mark this moment with a ceremony, in the presence of family, friends, colleagues and supervisors, on location at the university. It was immediately clear to us that we would still organise diploma ceremonies for all those who defended online as soon as the situation allowed it,' says Rector Magnificus Karen Maex.
‘At this time last year, when small-scale meetings became possible again after the summer, we organised the first diploma ceremonies for online PhDs. Everyone involved was very enthusiastic,’ says beadle Annelies Dijkstra. 'Last year's approach worked very well, so we have replicated it this time: a word of welcome by the dean of the faculty or department chair of the PhD graduates, a personal word by the (co-)supervisor for each graduate, and of course the ceremonial award of the doctoral degree. All this is then followed by a (seated) reception with a snack and a drink.'
This year’s ceremonies took place on five consecutive Saturdays, mainly in the Aula and on one occasion in the Agnietenkapel. The final ceremonies took place on 9 October. There were approximately seven PhD candidates present at each ceremony and each of them could invite nine guests. One of the members of the Executive Board was also present at each ceremony to personally congratulate the PhD graduates.