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Stéphane Pallage - "The University is a jewel"

University of Luxembourg - 29/01/2018

Professor Stéphane Pallage, the new Rector of the University of Luxembourg, introduced himself to staff at the New Year reception in the Grand Auditoire of the Maison du Savoir on 15 January.

About 800 staff came together to meet the new Rector. After his introduction by the President of the Board of Governors, Yves Elsen, Prof. Pallage outlined his reasons for joining the University of Luxembourg. "I view the University of Luxembourg as a jewel. It is, in my opinion, the university with the highest potential. This university was built from scratch 14 years ago. In those 14 years, it developed into one of the very best young universities," he explained, adding: "Having the chance to contribute to the development of a university like this one, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I simply could not resist joining that dream."

Speaking in French, English, and German, he outlined his vision for the University. "My goal is to make [the University] one of the best universities in the world in ten years. In ten years, I promise you, no one will doubt the relevance of the university in Luxembourg," he enthused. "Research is in fact a driving force for Luxembourg and if Luxembourg can legitimately aspire to be a Silicon Valley of Europe, it is largely thanks to the research that has been done here and to the brains that have been trained here in the last 14 years."

The 49-year-old professor of economics joined the University coming from Canada where he had been serving as the Dean of the School of Management at the University of Quebec in Montreal since 2013. Holding both Belgian and Canadian citizenships, Prof. Pallage already feels at home in Luxembourg, as he grew up in Malmedy close to the Luxembourgish border.

For Prof. Pallage, developing the University from a successful start-up towards a world class organisation will be one of the priorities. "We have to build an administration that will be agile, efficient and client-oriented," he explained.

In his speech, he made clear that academic freedom and responsibility towards the taxpayer and the government who invest about 800M€ in four years in the University go hand in hand. "I will make sure that our management of public funds is irreproachable. Transparency, accountability are key for us to deserve the confidence of the government in the future. Autonomy is never an issue when there is confidence," he emphasised, adding: "I will always stand for academic freedom. In no way will anyone interfere with your research."

For Prof. Pallage, multilingualism and interdisciplinarity are the main assets of the University. "I strongly believe in diversity. Diversity is a strength. Hard sciences, social sciences and humanities play an important role in defining us as a university rather than a school. The University was built as an interdisciplinary university. It is part of our DNA that computer scientists collaborate with education scientists […]," he stressed. "However, we are not large enough at the moment to offer study programmes in all fields. It is essential that we make strategic choices in the fields that we open and develop."

Finally, Stéphane Pallage stressed the importance of team spirit for the success of the University. "It is important that we leave personal interests or those of our discipline aside and only work for the good of the University. [...] This university is our project. Let’s focus on making our University even greater," he said. "In the coming weeks, I will work to strengthen our sense of community and pride. We must develop a true culture of the University of Luxembourg."

After the New Year’s reception, the new Rector was introduced to the Luxembourgish public at a press conference at the Ministry for Higher Education and Research. During the event, Minister Marc Hansen, President Yves Elsen, and Prof. Pallage signed the "Contrat d’établissement" between the University and the Government for the next four years.

© Michel Brumat / University of Luxembourg 2018

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