University of Tartu to confer doctoral degrees to 138 on centennial ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

University of Tartu Rector Toomas Asser at the Assembly Hall.
University of Tartu Rector Toomas Asser at the Assembly Hall. Source: Andres Tennus/University of Tartu

Doctoral degrees will be conferred on 138 people and honorary doctorates on four people at an assembly on Sunday marking the centennial of the establishment of the University of Tartu as an Estonian-language university.

Doctoral degrees will be conferred on 138 people and honorary doctorates on four people at an assembly on Sunday marking the centennial of the establishment of the University of Tartu as an Estonian-language university.

Also to be presented at Sunday's assembly are the university's Award for Contribution to the Estonian National Identity and a scholarship for a visiting professor from the Estonian diaspora.

In remarks released on the eve of the anniversary, University of Tartu Rector Toomas Asser described the establishment of an Estonian-language university just one hundred years after the abolition of serfdom as an unforeseen achievement for such a small nation.

"That, one hundred years on, the Estonian-language university not only continues to exist, but ranks among the best in the world demonstrates Estonians' belief in education and research," Asser said. "But it is not by far an arrival that we are currently celebrating, as the the university must now be a sensible and responsible guide in coping with the problems affecting Estonia and the entire world."

Following several public events on Saturday, the official anniversary of Estonia's national university, Dec. 1, will be celebrated on a more solemn scale, with a church service at St. John's Church at 10 a.m., which will include the consecration of the university's new Estonian flag, a gift from the Estonian Flag Society.

The assembly at the University of Tartu Assembly Hall will begin at 12 p.m., and include a formal anniversary lecture and the conferment of honorary doctorates and doctoral degrees, the presentation of the university's Award for Contribution to the Estonian National Identity, and the presentation of the scholarship for a visiting professor from the Estonian diaspora.

This assembly will be followed by the rector's reception at the University of Tartu Museum on Toomemägi.

In an homage to the opening meeting of the Estonian-language university held one hundred years ago, a poem written for the occasion at the time by poet Gustav Suits will be recited at Sunday's assembly, where the chairs will also be arranged the same way they were at the opening meeting on Dec. 1, 1919.

Fourth official language of study

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.

Following the end of World War I, the German Army handed the university over to Peeter Põld, who represented the Estonian government. Estonian was declared the official language of the university, and following a period of preparation, 351 students, including 305 Estonians, began their studies at the university on Oct. 6, 1919.

Over 13,000 students are currently studying at the University of Tartu, including over 1,600 international students.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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