Awards and Distinctions

WU Vienna awards honorary doctorate to Susan Emmenegger


Honorary doctorates are the highest academic distinction awarded by WU.

Honorary doctorates are among the highest honors bestowed by universities, and they are only presented in rare, justified cases. During the last 20 years, WU has only awarded four honorary doctorates, including the one presented to Prof. Emmenegger – the other three went to US legal scholar Fredrick Schauer in 2019, Nobel Prize laureate James J. Heckman in 2017, and Karl Korinek, the former president of the Austrian Constitutional Court, in 2005.

Susan Emmenegger is a professor at the University of Bern and an internationally respected scholar in the fields of civil, banking, and corporate law. She is also an important feminist voice in legal theory and her works are regarded as landmark achievements in the global academic community.

Objective assessments of EU law and groundbreaking work in law 

At yesterday’s event, WU Professor Susanne Kalss, head of WU’s Institute for Business Law, gave a laudatory speech for Susan Emmenegger, following words of welcome by WU Rector Rupert Sausgruber and Senate Chair Tina Wakolbinger: “For over ten years, Susan Emmenegger has been planning and organizing the annual Schweizer Bankrechtstagung conference, a unique event in Switzerland that is highly regarded internationally. With her outstanding achievements, she has been able to build bridges to European law, in particular to the neighboring legal systems of Germany and Austria. Susan Emmenegger is one of only a few women who are members of the European Company Law Experts. Her role is so outstanding because, as a Swiss citizen, she is not directly subject to the European legislative regime and is therefore able to assess very objectively and independently whether the European regime is progressive or protectionist and whether Switzerland should follow it. Susan Emmenegger is the most cited and most respected legal scholar in her home country. The impact of her work goes beyond Switzerland and extends across Europe. She has done groundbreaking academic work at an international level, both in the European and the global context.”  

Honorary doctorate as a source of motivation 

At the award ceremony, Professor Emmenegger gave a lecture entitled “Should big banks be allowed to fail? Turning the spotlight on banking regulation,” in which she discussed the relationship between banking supervision and banks’ independence in organizing their business operations, based on the experiences made in Switzerland. She also expressed her gratitude for the honorary doctorate: “I’m very proud to receive an honorary doctorate from WU Vienna. This title fills me with deep gratitude towards WU as an institution and its scientific community, whose research has inspired me and carried me forward. It’s also a big source of motivation for me to further deepen our exchange of ideas in academic research and strengthen the links between our communities.” 

Martin Winner, Susan Emmenegger, Rupert Sausgruber, Susanne Kalss

Vice-Rector Martin Winner, Susan Emmenegger, Rector Rupert Sausgruber, Laudator Susanne Kalss


About Susan Emmenegger  

Susan Emmenegger is full professor of private law and banking law at the University of Bern, where she also serves as director of the Institute of Banking Law and co-director of the Institute for Civil Law. In addition to her university work, she is also a member of the board of directors of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), chair of the editorial board of the Swiss Review of Business and Financial Market Law (SZW), and chair of the scientific advisory board of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg. She is an expert in the field of Swiss and international financial market law and the Swiss Code of Obligations (contract law). She is also a member of the European Company Law Experts (ECLE), and she organizes the annual Swiss Bankrechtstagung conference and serves as the editor of the publication series of the same name. Her academic background includes an LL.M. degree from Cornell University Law School, a habilitation thesis on banking organization law, and numerous fellowships and visiting professorships worldwide. She has been an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School since 2014. Her diverse contributions range from internationally recognized fundamental research to active participation in various committees and supervisory boards in the financial and legal sector, including as vice-president of the Swiss Takeover Board. Susan Emmenegger has shaped the development of the Swiss legal system and is a highly respected voice in the international discourse on legal policy. 

list of holders of a WU honorary doctorate (in German)


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