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The Paranimph of the University of Barcelona, during a solemn event.

First lecture of the academic year

Professor Antoni Trilla will give the opening lecture this year

The inauguration of the academic year is the oldest solemn ceremony of the university and it has been held since the 16th century. The event includes the opening lecture given by an important professor of the institution. This year, on October 14, Antoni Trilla, professor of Public Health and dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, will give the lecture titled “Epidemics, pandemics and lessons”.

The inauguration of the academic year is the oldest solemn ceremony held at the UB, since the 16th century

The first European universities had symbols and ceremonies to express their own identity among society. In Barcelona, on October 24, 1536 –only six days after the first stone of the General Studio was placed in the top of les Rambles–, the first inauguration of the academic year took place in Saló de Cent. The first opening lecture treated grammar and poetry, and it was held by one of the most relevant professors of the time: the grammarian, Latinist and humanist Martí Ybarra.

When the University returned from Cervera, in 1822, the events took place in different buildings, mainly in the oratory Sant Felip Neri, and the church Nostra Senyora de Betlem, when these could not be held in the headquarters, Convent dels Carmelites. Since the Elies Rogent’s Historical Building construction, the inauguration of the academic year has always been held at the Paranimph, except for the first year, when this noble room was not finished yet.

At the beginning, the UB held this ceremony on October 18, Saint Luke’s Day, by the University of Bologna’s influence. Over the years, the dates changed between late September and mid-October, with some inaugurations exceptionally held in November.

Opening lecture

The focus of this year is, and has always been, the opening lecture given by a professor. During the first centuries of the life at the university, this was the first lecture in the subject of the public speaker, but then it became a specially prepared lecture for the ceremony.

The preferred topic in opening lectures is the university and its role in society and scientific progress. Sometimes, the lecture treats current affairs and topics related to some commemoration, such as the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil War in 1986, the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1989 or the 550th anniversary of the UB in 2000. It can also be a tribute: for instance, those to Salvador Espriu in 1980 and Pompeu Fabra in 1982. During the ceremony, the extraordinary awards are given to the students, and medals are also awarded to retired members of TRS and AdSS, and on some occasions, the golden medals of the University are also awarded.

The solemnity of this event is joined by the attire worn by the doctors of the University Senate on these occasions, featuring colours and symbols that build a code of identity and hierarchy inside the University. Maces are a symbol of university autonomy; the rector’s baton, the lecture given in the stage, and the final singing of Gaudeamus igitur are part of an academic ceremony that takes us to ecclesiastic origins of the institution in the Middle Ages. Nowadays, the inauguration of the academic year at the UB is regulated by the 2018 Regulation on symbols, honors and protocol, and it maintains the essential ceremonial and symbols from the 16th century, which have remained until now.

This ceremony has been many times witness of the social situation and a place where protests and sit-ins have taken place, so the event has sometimes been cancelled. On some occasions, it has been held by the President of the Catalan Government, like in 1931, given by the President Francesc Macià, or in 1977, by President Josep Tarradellas as one of his first events after coming back from the exile. Now, rotating with the other Catalan public universities, it is the opening event for the Catalan university system.

Antoni Trilla is the dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the UB.
This year, Antoni Trilla, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the UB will give the opening lecture.

Antoni Trilla, patron of the new academic year

The academic year 2020/2021 will be opened by Antoni Trilla, professor of Public Health, with the lecture “Epidemies, pandemics and lessons”.

Antoni Trilla is the current dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, head of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, research lecturer at the Global Health Institute in Barcelona and member of the Governing Board of the Col·legi de Metges de Barcelona.

Graduated and with his PhD at the University of Barcelona, expert on internal medicine and preventive medicine and public health, Trilla has received, among other awards, the Josep Trueta Medal to healthcare merits given by the Catalan Government and the Award to Professional Excellence from Col·legi de Metges de Barcelona. He has also been awarded the Big Van Medal to scientific communication and the Doctors’ Senate and Board of Trustees Award of the UB to scientific dissemination. Among his research lines are the prevention and control of infections related to healthcare assistance, the flu and vaccination to prevent it, and isolation procedures and control of highly transmissible diseases.

Doctor, professor and researcher, distinguished epidemiologist in Catalonia and Spain, Trilla is a great communicator as well. He has appeared thousands of times in the media since the pandemic started. He is also member of the scientific committee to give advice to the Spanish Government regarding the health management of the COVID-19 pandemic and the president of the Advisory Scientific Committee of Emerging Diseases at the Department of Health of the Catalan Government. For many, he is the leading epidemiologist, and for the University of Barcelona, he is the patron of this new and atypical academic year.

Interview to Antoni Trilla (PODCAST)

The Paranimph.
Speech for the opening of the academic year in 1836.
Antoni Trilla, in his office.
University symbols.