The 600 year mark which the University of Turin has reached is important because it reminds us of our responsibility to continue a long historical tradition and at the same time invites us to keep our work abreast of scientific, technical, cultural and political innovations in the future. Universities are long the standing institutions which continue to fulfil their mission in very different historical circumstances. The University of Turin developed in the late Middle Ages, when the scholastic model of higher education was still vital and rich; it has weathered the historical turbulence which struck the Piedmont region, trained the équipes for the Dukedom and later for the Kingdom of Savoy who were needed to build a modern state. It was among the institutions which contributed largely to the birth of the nation state, not only because it educated a considerable part of the ruling class which guided the unification process, but also because it contributed significantly to the establishment of modern science and culture in Italy.
In this long, complex and at times difficult, historical experience, certain principles have always remained constant: the plurality of knowledge, seen as a wealth which imposes on the university an autonomous and complex organization; the sense of responsibility and service towards the social context of the city and the nation; the sense of justice and of respect among the various components of university life; the constant, living link between research and tertiary education; the concern for exchange between cultures at the European level in which our cultural life is naturally located.
These principles must now be safeguarded and applied to a context which has radically changed, where the needs of education and research have grown, the European dimension has become part of everyday life and new technologies have profoundly changed both the working world and education.
The sixth Centenary of our University comes at a time of transition, when the university institution is called to review its function and update its organization to meet new tasks and new challenges. At this time of great innovation, the University of Turin has its own special mission, determined by its tradition and by its geographical position: to continue its cultural and scientific mission by contributing to cultural and scientific integration in the European context.
The celebrations of the sixth Centenary are by no means purely ceremonial, but rather they provide us all with the opportunity for scientific work and for confrontation among research workers in the most diverse intellectual fields; for international consideration of the problems of today's university and its future; for renewed relations with the City and the region; and in addition, an opportunity for the public to visit the museums, works of art and documents in the University's keeping.

The Rector of the University of Turin
Prof. Rinaldo Bertolino