Gallery: Tartu students mark 97th anniversary of Estonian-language university ({{commentsTotal}})

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Photo: Hundreds of members of Tartu's sororities, fraternities and other student organizations participat in the annual torchlight procession on Dec. 1. Author: (Aili Vahtla/ERR)

While the University of Tartu in its earliest form was established in 1632, Estonian did not become the official language of instruction until Dec. 1, 1919. Today, the anniversary of the Estonian-language university is celebrated annually with a number of traditional events, the most visible of which is a torchlight procession through town involving dozens of student organizations and hundreds of students and alumni.

Established as Academia Gustaviana by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1632, the University of Tartu saw three different languages of instruction — Latin, German and Russian — across the following three centuries before being officially established as the Estonian-language national university of the Republic of Estonia in December 1919, nearly two years after the country had declared its independence.

The anniversary of the historic changeover is marked in modern times with a ceremonial assembly, which includes the conferring of doctorate and honorary doctorate degrees as well as the awarding of the UT Award for Contribution to the Estonian National Identity, an award granted in recognition of individuals for their outstanding achievements in promoting the national cultural identity of Estonia.

The evening then continues with a torchlight procession including various student organizations connected to the university followed by a ball held at Vanemuise Concert Hall.

This year, a total of five honorary doctorates and 118 PhDs defended since Dec. 1 of the previous year were conferred at the university's ceremonial assembly.

The following professors were awarded the title of honorary doctor of the University of Tartu:

Stefan Schreiner, professor of the University of Tübingen (Honorary Doctor of Theology)

Eberhard Klaus Wolfgang Winkler, professor of the University of Göttingen (Honorary Doctor of Linguistics)

Christian Tomuschat, professor emeritus of the Humboldt University of Berlin (Honorary Doctor of Law )

Kauko K. Mäkinen, professor emeritus of the University of Turku (Honorary Doctor of Dentistry)

Markku Leskelä, professor of the University of Helsinki (Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology)

Likewise announced at the assembly was this year's winner of the UT Award for Contribution to the Estonian National Identity, which was Estonian film producer Andres Sööt, 82.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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