The University of Tartu (UT) celebrates its 96th anniversary today, December 1, with the traditional ceremony, torch-light procession and a ball.
Two honorary doctorates and 112 doctorates were conferred, and the University of Tartu Contribution to Estonian National Identity award presented at the ceremony that started at noon.
According to Professor Volli Kalm, rector of the university, the responsibility of the national university is to take care of Estonian-language culture, science and education: “The founding of Estonia’s national university 96 years ago was based on the same values which are important to members of the university today. As long as our everyday lives are driven by the wish to work in the name of intellectuality, dignity, quality teaching and the development of research in the Estonian language, there is no need to worry about our country, nation or language perishing. Being open minded about international research, education and culture only supports and reinforces our responsible role as the national university.”
The rector further said that people who have come from abroad to study, teach or do research at the UT bring a part of the world to the national university and enrich its spirit, culture and research. “On the one hand, they contribute to the operation of the international university and, on the other hand, they are a part of the national university. This is why it is important to treat them as part of the national university—with respect and appreciation, because one day, when our international colleagues return to their home country, they will be great ambassadors of Estonia, Tartu and the University of Tartu,” Kalm said.
At today's ceremony, Professor Thomas Salumets of the University of British Columbia was conferred honorary doctorate of humanities of the UT to acknowledge his academic achievements in the field of humanities, for his contribution to research on Estonian culture and his work in advising UT teaching staff and students.
An honorary doctorate of economics was conferred upon Professor Mark F. Peterson of Florida Atlantic University and Maastricht University, who has played an important part in internationalising research in the field of national and organisation culture at the UT Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, and whose work has helped increase the quality of doctoral studies.
The Contribution to Estonian National Identity award went to Arvo Vallikivi, alias Arvo Valton. Valton is an Estonian writer and a convinced supporter of little literatures and languages, especially the Finno-Ugric ones. He is the President of the Association of the Finno-Ugric Literatures and has translated poetry of the Finno-Ugric nations in Russia. His own works have been translated into many languages.
The University of Tartu was founded on June 30, 1632, by King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden. The first students enrolled on April 20-21, 1632. After World War I, the university reopened its doors on December 1,1919 as Tartu University of the Republic of Estonia, with Estonian as the language of instruction, where new subjects that laid the basis for the development and research of national Estonian culture were taught.
Editor: M. Oll