Maastricht University to award honorary doctorates at Dies Natalis celebration in January

Maastricht University is awarding honorary doctorates to Frans Timmermans and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales for the exceptional contributions they have made, directly or indirectly, to academic education and research. New European Commissioner Frans Timmermans is being awarded for his major contributions to both European and international relations. With Wikipedia, American Jimmy Wales has established a universally accessible platform that, particularly for students, is an infinite source of information which is impossible to imagine life without. The honorary degrees will be awarded during the official celebration of the Dies Natalis, which will take place on 16 January 2015 at St. John’s Church (Sint Janskerk) in Maastricht.

Frans Timmermans
(born in Maastricht) has been European Commissioner and First Vice President of the Juncker Commission since 1 November 2014. Before this, he was the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs (November 2012—October 2014). The Maastricht University Executive Board is awarding Frans Timmermans with an honorary doctorate for his outstanding contributions to European and international relations: “Frans Timmermans has built a close relationship with UM over the years, within the framework of both discussions on the future of Europe, as well as discussions on human rights. Timmermans has actively participated in workshops and seminars and has given lectures to our students.”

Jimmy Wales is an American internet entrepreneur and founder of the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia. This well-known information platform was founded in 2001 and has since grown to become the world’s most consulted online encyclopaedia. Wikipedia contains more than 30 million articles, available in multiple languages. Student members of the University Council nominated Jimmy Wales for the following reasons: “Jimmy Wales founded a platform that has greatly changed the lives of students. A study environment without this information source is no longer imaginable. Although you may not refer directly to Wikipedia in your articles, essays and other works of writing, the platform is always an excellent starting point for gathering information.”

In addition to Timmermans and Wales, academics Michelle Craske (nominated by the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience) and Wolfgang Wahlster (nominated by the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences) will also be awarded honorary doctorates.

Michelle Craske, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), was nominated for her great academic influence in the field of clinical psychology, and particularly in experimental psychopathology. She researches issues such as anxiety disorders, depression among young people and gender differences in anxiety, and has written several books on these topics. Craske is director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Center at UCLA.

Wolfgang Wahlster, CEO and Scientific Director of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and Professor of Computer Science at Saarland University (Saarbrücken, Germany), is regarded as an international figurehead in the field of knowledge-based systems and artificial intelligence. “With the establishment of the DFKI, among other things, Wolfgang Wahlster has shown how to successfully integrate research, teaching and applied technology based on knowledge technology and articifial intelligence, which makes him a unique source of inspiration for the Department of Knowledge Engineering at UM.”

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