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On Wednesday, 11 May 2011, at the end of a ceremony held in the Van Gogh auditorium, the University of Mons (UMONS) had the honour of awarding the title of Doctor Honoris Causa to six leading personalities, in recognition of their services to society or for their efforts in the development and dissemination of science.

The six new Doctors Honoris Causa are:

  • For the University as a whole, Frédéric Courant and Jamy Gourmaud - France

Journalists, Editors-in-Chief of the televised educational science magazine “C’est pas sorcier»

  • For the Faculty of Psychology and Education, Angela Friederici - Germany

Director of the Department of Neuropsychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig 

  • For the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Guy Orban - Belgium

Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

  • For the Faculty of Engineering, Miller Puckette - USA

Professor at the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at the University of California - San Diego

  • For the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, Alain van Crugten - Belgium

Translator, Novelist and Playwright 

« Today, our university honours six figures who are all recognised and respected in their field of expertise and whose preeminent roles reflect the values of our institution”, stated the Rector of the University of Mons, Professor Calogero Conti, in his inaugural speech at the ceremony where the titles were officially conferred. “Several of our guests truly epitomize the mobility and internationalization that are setting the pace for research in today’s world. In fact, some of them have already had fruitful contacts and active collaborations with our university at one time or another. (…) By accepting this title, our 6 new doctors are further participating in the transmission of knowledge - one of the missions that is so dear to our hearts at the University of Mons. At the same time, these figures have also done us the immense honour of becoming members of our Community. Let me assure them that they will be at home here in an institution that highly esteems them, that recognises the wealth of their respective backgrounds and that wishes to make them known widely».

If the University of Mons wished to honour Frédéric Courant and Jamy Gourmaud, it was to “showcase the exceptional career of two inseparable pillars of the dissemination of science, in particular through their televised science magazine “C’est pas sorcier”, which is arguably among the best that educational television has to offer”.  But we at the University of Mons also wished to highlight “the high pedagogical value of their work as well as its impact on young people in terms of their perception of the sciences and the attractiveness of studying science».

If the Faculty of Psychology and Education wished to honour Angela Friederici, it is because throughout her career - and with a truly interdisciplinary mindset -, she has associated linguistic, cognitive and neurological approaches to try to answer a single, central question: how does the brain perform one of the most complex human activities - managing language.

If the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy wished to honour Guy Orban, it is because he is one of the greatest specialists in the visual and cognitive neurosciences. His research notably concerns the treatment of information through brain circuits, substantiated through functional imaging of primates.

If the Faculty of Engineering wished to honour Miller Puckette, it is because he has contributed greatly to creating and developing the new discipline of the digital arts, and especially music informatics, playing the role of a veritable one-man-band as well as visionary computer scientist, mathematician, engineer and composer.

If the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting – School of International Interpreters, wished to honour Alain van Crugten, it is because he is the author of substantial theatrical work and novels but also because he is one of the major specialists in literary translation of great classical authors from Russia, Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, Flanders, the Netherlands and the English-speaking world.

These six new “DHCs” join the ranks of UMONS honouree Professor Muhammad Yunus (father of microcredit and Nobel Peace Prize laureate), who, on 18 October 2010, became the first Doctor Honoris Causa in the history of the newly formed University of Mons.

Before their merger in 2009, the University of Mons-Hainaut and the Faculté Polytechnique had already respectively awarded honorary doctorates to numerous figures such as the filmmaking Dardenne brothers (UMH), Claudie Haigneré (FPMs), Raymond Barre (UMH), Boris Cyrulnik (UMH), Ricardo Petrella (FPMs) or His Majesty King Albert II (FPMs), His Majesty King Baudoin (FPMs), André Comte-Sponville (UMH), and the list goes on... 

Within the University of Mons, the Academic Board, which is made up of the full academic body, has the privilege and responsibility of choosing the DHC nominees. The Faculties make argumented proposals and the Academic Board ratifies the final decision, which is based on the values and principles that our institution proudly defends.  The title of “Doctor Honoris Causa” that UMONS confers is a symbol of recognition, exemplitude and universality.