On Thursday, January 18, LUISS celebrated the inauguration of the 2017-2018 academic year with speeches from Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, LUISS Rector Paola Severino, President Emma Marcegaglia, General Manager Giovanni Lo Storto, Principal of the University of Glasgow Anton Muscatelli and LUISS Professor of Monetary Theory and Policy Giorgio Di Giorgio. The occasion was marked with the conferral of a Laurea Honoris Causa in Management to Nobel Prize winner in Economics Professor Edmund S. Phelps. The inauguration saw the participation of leading figures in higher education and government, including Minister of Economics and Finance Pier Carlo Padoan, Minister of Parliamentary Relations Anna Finocchiaro and Secretary of the Council of Ministers Maria Elena Boschi.
The ceremony was opened by LUISS General Manager Giovanni Lo Storto, who underlined the progress made by the University and challenging millennials to learn in innovative ways both at the campus in Rome and, since November 2017, in at the LUISS Hub in Milan where thousands of students will be welcomed in the heart of the innovation district by locally based companies.
“Innovation at LUISS,” remarked General Manager Lo Storto, “ means learning new things in new, inclusive and practical ways that reinforce our students’ awareness and sense of responsibility. From volunteering experiences in Italy and abroad to urban renewal projects, the university is on the front line of protecting abandoned cultural treasures both in Rome and around the country while working to become a more environmentally friendly community through investment in important urban requalification projects with the LUISS Business School at Villa Blanc in Rome and the Milano LUISS Hub.”
Following the General Manager, Rector Severino welcomed and greeted the guests of honor, declaring: “Over the last ten years, the university has undergone great development, growth and transformation. I am proud to support and enrich our ongoing work, with a focus on innovation and the needs of the international market, honoring merit and training professionals with a complete set of tools, ready to lead the frenetic evolution of society.”
“We have launched,” continued Rector Severino, “courses and master’s programs to train professionals and experts in data science, anti-corruption and cyber security as we consider them indispensable, innovative new skills that must dialog with legal, economic and philosophical studies in a strategic manner. There 200 million university students in the world and in less than 20 years, mobility between universities has increased by 250%. In 2013, of the 4.1 million international students, 1.6 million studied subjects offered at our university. Education must, therefore, be ever-increasingly international. To reach this goal, LUISS has laid out a strategy to establish 218 agreements with 44 countries around the world, attracting more students and instructors from abroad. To young people, I advise you to never grow tired and to work hard and expect more from yourselves, never settle.”
Concluding the ceremony, LUISS President Emma Marcegaglia declared: “Young people in 2018 have opportunities that were unfathomable twenty years ago and will be the ones to lead the fascinating digital future and industry 4.0. In the future, we will have professions, jobs, roles and research projects that do not currently exist. Our country, Italy, must innovate, establish roots and make higher education more competitive to prepare graduates and citizens of the future. Current figures are not all encouraging: the amount of Italians with a university degree is among the lowest in Europe with only 18%, half of the OCSE average of 37%. The gap grows in STEM subjects, with 25% compared to 37% in Germany, far lower than the market demands. While it is true that more women have university degrees than men, often, I regret to say, they lie in fields that are penalized both in terms of employment and retribution. I believe and I hope that this data will inspire action, energy and seriousness in the next parliament. Only by improving this anemic data both quickly and robustly can Italy reclaim its place as a leading European nation.”
“LUISS is a point of pride for Rome and I believe that it demonstrates the quality and potential that this great European capital can offer,” declared Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. “It is time for ability, serious intent and investment in the future. We need courage, trust and quality human capital.”
The ceremony concluded with the conferral of a Laurea Honoris Causa in Management to Edmund S. Phelps for his innovative analysis of economic growth based education and change in technology, giving a fundamental contribution to the foundation of modern economic theory based on the imperfection of information and understanding and for the analysis of the role that innovation and creativity from the ground up have had in economic and social development.
The Nobel Prize winner in Economics Edmund S. Phelps, in his Lectio Magistralis underlined the importance of putting the individual at the center of development processes to reacquire lost prosperity and economic liveliness. “The lack of a positive and constructive direction, generated by the fear of uncertainty and market instability, have caused a graduate loss of dynamism and, thus, innovation in the current economy. To regain the dynamism of old, we must turn to those modernist values and reject the post-modern ones.”