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A great farewell for Rolf Tarrach

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Publié le lundi 15 décembre 2014

Lots of laugher – and here and there also a little tear – accompagnied the farewell ceremony for our University President Rolf Tarrach on this Friday, 12 December 2014 in the "Maison du Savoir" in Belval. Colleagues, friends from all over the world and prominent guests honoured Rolf Tarrach with their attendance, speeches and surprises...



They were all there: academic, scientific, administrative and technical staff from the University, ministers and high representants from politics and research, ambassadors as well as old and new friends from Luxembourg or abroad came to the spacious amphitheatre in the "Maison du Savoir" to say farewell to University President Rolf Tarrach, whose second mandate ends on 31 December.

“Rolf Tarrach is the living proof that an intellectual can be very much fun”, so Thorunn Egilsdottir’s introduction to the event she moderated. A patchwork video with statements about Rolf Tarrach’s strong, open-minded and visionary personality collected among his friends and colleagues opened the ceremony. Then different speakers honoured Rolf Tarrach, alternating with music and poems presented by Michel Clees and his ensemble.

Marc Jaeger, President of the University’s Board of Governors, took the audience back in history, when Rolf Tarrach started his first mandate as President of the University of Luxembourg: “the University was still to invent”, he stated. During the last ten years, he continued, Rolf Tarrach was not only the face of the University and its ambassador: he was above all its motor and driver, endowed with uncommon determination to defend the University against all skeptics. Marc Hansen, Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research, also thanked the “chef d’orchestre” Rolf Tarrach for his engagement for the University.

The laudatio given by Germain Dondelinger, Premier Conseiller de Government at the Ministery of Higher Education and Research and good friend of Rolf Tarrach, was truly poetic and literary: first dedicating him a quotation from a poem of Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference”, he then compared Rolf Tarrach’s time at the University with different extracts from “The Tempest” written by William Shakespeare.

Germain Dondelinger resumes his speech with the words: "Rolf Tarrach has made the University of Luxembourg prosper by ordering it a culture of scientific quality, which gave it a reputation on the international map of universities and by placing it in the service of the Luxembourgish society”.

"He put Luxembourg on the map"

According to Pierre Gramegna, friend of Rolf Tarrach and Minister of Finance, Tarrach has been able “to put Luxembourg on the map”, which wasn’t easy. But for him, “Rolf is an ideal combination of the North and the South: from the South he brings energy and passion, and from the North come his genes: the quality of precision that accompanies his scientific mind, but also the sense of compromise. Therefore he has been a great president for the University of Luxembourg.”

Close to the end, Rolf Tarrach was pleasantly surprised by a short video featuring three of his old friends sharing personal insights and witty anecdotes – an occasion for all present to get to know a few other sides of the University President.

In his eagerly awaited own speech closing the ceremony, Tarrach decided not to speak about the University, but to give the audience an insight into his life. And soTarrach, in his humorous manner, told the audience about the spumante he was given directly after birth, his confrontation with the Spanish police arguing “Why can’t I ask why?”, the protons that had served as an excuse to approach his future wife, his time in Madrid, his research stays in Geneva and St Petersburg and of course the ten years at the University of Luxembourg. “It has been a great time – I think the greatest time”, he said before concluding: “My mission for the coming years will be to fight for a Europe and a Luxembourg of knowledge and creativity, that is to say for future generations”. Standing ovations closed the ceremony.

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From left in slideshow: Chamber President Mars Di Bartolomeo, the leaving University President Rolf Tarrach and Secretary of State Marc Hansen.

Square photo on the right: The leaving University President Rolf Tarrach.

Photo gallery of the event on Facebook

© Michel Brumat / Université du Luxembourg