University of Bern

School of Dentistry
Hochschulstrasse 4
Bern CH 3012

The paradigms of modernism underwent fundamental change under the impression of the Second World War. While architect Otto Brechbühl invoked his late patron Otto Rudolf Salvisberg for the facade of the School of Dental Medicine, it is not primarily the absence of the great master that can be identified behind the new construction of the 1950s but a completely new approach to architecture.

By only displaying its qualities with the utmost restraint and tending to foster inconspicuous virtues such as a neat construction method, this building, erected in 1953-54 and heightened, extended and converted by Kiener Architekten in 1996, fits in perfectly with the architecture of its time. Art in architecture is the means by which what is in essence an anonymous structure is provided with identity and monumentality. A monumental bronze sculpture by Gustave Piguet markes the main entrance. It represents Ainas, the Egyptian deity of healing, fighting with a snake.The connecting areas are of special, albeit sparse elegance. Behind a semi-transparent glass brick facade, the main entrance is followed by a staircase in which the black terrazzo steps blend in an astonishing manner with a steel handrail conveying a graphic and tender air.

Brechbühl comes up with an almost baroque-like theatrical climax for the side entrance of all places: a baroque curved flight of steps to the foyer. Here not only Viktor Surbek completed his extensive mural painting Southern Landscape in 1957; above all the spirally winding stairs, their steps and strings made entirely of a very dark terrazzo and brass inlays, consume all our attention – they look more like a superior work of sculpture than a means of climbing to the upper floors.

Together with Jakob Itten, Otto Brechbühl later constructed buildings such as the nearby high-rise ward building of the University Hospital. More recent university buildings such as the Institute of Pathology also originate from the traditional architectural practice that with Otto Rudolf Salvisberg counts among its founders a figure of international prominence.

The University of Bern, is a university in the Swiss capital of Bern and was founded in 1834. It is regulated and financed by the Canton of Bern. It is a comprehensive university offering a broad choice of courses and programs in eight faculties and some 150 institutes. With around 18,019 students, the University of Bern is the third biggest University in Switzerland.

The University of Bern operates at three levels: university, faculties and institutes. Other organizational units include interfaculty and general university units. The university's highest governing body is the Senate, which is responsible for issuing statutes, rules and regulations. Directly answerable to the Senate is the University Board of Directors, the governing body for university management and coordination. The Board comprises the Rector, the Vice-Rectors and the Administrative Director. The structures and functions of the University Board of Directors and the other organizational units are regulated by the Universities Act.

The University of Bern had 18,019 students in 2018. Of these, 43 percent (7,692) were registered in bachelor programs and 26 percent (4,602) in master's programs, 16 percent (2,966) were doctoral students, and another 15 percent were enrolled in continuing education programs. On a regional basis, 37 percent are from the Canton of Bern itself, 12 percent are from abroad, and the remaining 51 percent were from elsewhere in Switzerland. There were 1,638 bachelor's degree graduation, 1,629 master's degree graduations and 640 PhD student graduations in 2018.[1] For some time now, the university has had more female than male students. At the end of 2018, women accounted for 55% of students.

The University of Bern does not have a single large campus on the edge of the city, but has consistently pursued the principle of a university in the city. Most institutes and clinics are still in the Länggasse, the traditional university district adjoining the city centre, within walking distance of one another. The Faculty of Theology and various institutes in the Faculty of Humanities are now housed in an old chocolate factory (the Unitobler), and in 2005 the former women's hospital was refurbished to serve as a university centre for institutes in the Faculty of Law and Department of Economics (the UniS).[11] The vonRoll site, another former factory building, is in the process of being refurbished to house the Faculty of Human Sciences and the Department of Social Sciences.

The roots of the University of Bern go back to the sixteenth century, when, as a consequence of the Reformation, a collegiate school was needed to train new pastors. As part of its reorganization of higher education, the government of Bern transformed the existing theological college into an academy with four faculties in 1805. Henceforth, it was possible to study not only theology in Bern, but also law and medicine.

The old university: New beginning and development (1834–1900).

As in other countries of Europe, nineteenth century politics in Switzerland were dominated by the struggle between conservative and liberal currents. The liberals gained control of the Canton of Bern in 1831 and in 1834 turned the academy into a university, with an academic staff of 45 to teach 167 students. Owing to the political situation, it was not until the promulgation of the federal constitution in 1848 that the university was able to embark on a period of peaceful development. Between 1885 and 1900, the number of students doubled from 500 to 1,000. As a result, at the turn of the twentieth century the University of Bern was the largest university in Switzerland. This rapid growth reflected the university's attraction for foreign students, in particular Germans and Russians, who accounted for half of the total enrolment. It was also Russian female students who in the 1870s won the right for women to study.

The new university: New building and consolidation (1900–1950).

With the growing prosperity of the city of Bern, the university in the Länggasse quarter expanded at the end of the 19th century. In 1903, a new Main Building was inaugurated on the Grosse Schanze and the number of faculties increased. In 1908–09, three prominent persons put the University of Bern in the limelight. In 1908, Albert Einstein taught the first of three semesters of theoretical physics. The following year, Anna Tumarkin, a Russian philosopher, was appointed to an extraordinary professorship and thus became the first female professor at a European university entitled to examine doctoral and post-doctoral theses. Also in 1909, Theodor Kocher, a Bernese surgeon, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. In the following years the university consolidated its position as a small centre of higher learning with a stable enrollment of about 2,000 students.

The modern university: Expansion and reorganization (1950–2000).

After World War II, a growing number of voices called for the expansion of tertiary education in Switzerland. The rapid growth in the 1950s and 1960s (enrolment at the University of Bern had already reached 5,000 in 1968) – generated pressure for expansion. The completely revised University Act of 1996 transformed the University of Bern from an administrative division of the Department of Education of the Canton of Bern into an autonomous institution. a legal entity in its own right. The Act clearly defined the competencies of the university and of the state. The university passed another milestone in 1992, when its enrolment reached 10,000.

The university today: Bologna Reform and restructuring (since 2000).

The Bologna Declaration ushered in the era of ECTS credits and the bachelor's and master's degree structure. The university set strategic research priorities, such as climate research, and promoted inter-university cooperation. At the same time, the university reorganized its faculties. With the amendment to the University Act in summer 2010, the University Board of Directors acquired the right to choose its own ordinary professors and keep its own accounts separate from the state. The University Board of Directors formulated a strategy in 2013, that builds on the previous strategy of 2006, the 2012 mission statement and the performance mandate for the University from the Cantonal Government.

Map of University of Bern School of Dentistry, Hochschulstrasse 4, Bern CH 3012

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