25 years ago... today. The Opening Ceremony of USI

Mario Botta during the ceremony. Courtesy of Corriere del Ticino
Mario Botta during the ceremony. Courtesy of Corriere del Ticino

Institutional Communication Service

21 October 2021

From Lugano and Mendrisio at 5 pm on 21 October 1996, and live on TSI, the official inauguration ceremony of the Università della Svizzera italiana kicks off, featuring as master of ceremonies USI Secretary-General, Mauro Dell'Ambrogio.

Giorgio Giudici, mayor of Lugano, introduces the speeches, recalling that "our work begins today. Furthermore, it concerns all of us, because this university was born thanks to the contribution of the civil society that wanted it, understanding that much of its future depended on its existence". Carlo Croci, Mayor of Mendrisio, echoed him, stressing that USI is the "fulfilment of a dream" for a region that is finally "willing to be a key player" in the Swiss cultural scene and that it "constitutes a unique opportunity for self-determination for the Canton of Ticino".

For Renzo Respini, President of the Foundation for the Faculties of Lugano, "never before have we been so aware as we are today that the university born in this precise historical moment receives the contribution of all the ideas, all the projects and all the passion that for 150 years have been addressed in our Canton on this issue".

Mario Botta, President of the Scientific Council of the Academy of Architecture, devotes his speech to the new students: "each one of us will be a teacher to the other", he says, quoting Oliviero Toscani, among the teachers chosen to launch the adventure of the Academy. Moreover, turning to the new students, he emphasises: "we also have, above all, a profound need for your vision, your critical perspective, your hope". Finally, the architect ends with a wish, always addressed to the students: "It is the recommendation that my mother had given me when I left to study in Venice. With that popular wisdom that comes from the peasant condition, she told me: 'Go, and don't waste time".

Concluding the ceremony, Pietro Martinelli. "When we dream together, dreams come true," says the President of the State Council. USI is a "strong message of confidence in the future despite a difficult present" and "the result of a united Ticino", claims the politician, who also recalls the happy coincidence that sees the birth of USI precisely in the 200th anniversary of the birth of Stefano Franscini, a mid-nineteenth century supporter of the need for a university for the growth and emancipation of Ticino.

Giuseppe Buffi, the " kingpin" of USI's birth, speaks before Pietro Martinelli's closing speech. "The pace is the cautious one of prudence, but also the light one of optimism", points out the State Councillor, saying that he had "still in his heart" the echo of the applause that on 3 October 1995 had greeted the approval of the law establishing USI, an applause "to the fresh, delicate, defenceless flight of hope". Concerning the difficulties initially encountered beyond the Alps, Buffi affirms that it has always been considered "a priority, for the right to have a university, to offer it to the Confederation as Ticino's contribution to the promotion and strengthening of the Swiss cultural model", with an "act of creation" that, as such, can only be "absolute". "Ticino not only knows how to be optimistic, not only knows how to express expectations and hopes. It also knows how to be generous," concludes the Director of the Department of Education and Culture. "For such ventures, it is worth living there, operating there. Even if for us it is a daily chronicle, today, we all feel it; the Swiss Italian-speaking region writes an important page of its history as a leading actor".


The complete inauguration ceremony can be viewed at this address:

Extensive extracts are also reported in the written press reports:

A short video that retraces some moments of the ceremony is available below.


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25 years ago... today. The Opening Ceremony of USI