Watch or read Rector Toomas Asser's greeting on the 101st anniversary of Estonia's national university.
Dear university community, dear new PhD holders, dear friends of the university!
Today is an exceptional day for Estonia’s national university. Hopefully, it is this one time only. We cannot celebrate the 101st anniversary of the national university in the traditional way, but we will not leave it uncelebrated either. Let us celebrate the anniversary, each in their own way!
When you think of the year 2020 and how to describe it, probably the first thing you remember is a certain virus. But let us see beyond the virus – it has been a year of growing. We have had to adapt to the new situation and thereby we have grown to be more intelligent and smart, cooperative, adaptable. And not just as individuals – also the university, the state, society, the world has grown.
While growing, we have quickly taken many steps ahead of the plans set out in the university’s strategic plan for the next five years, but also ahead of plans set out in Estonia’s long-term development strategy for the next 15 years.
One of the keywords of the government’s long-term development plan is adaptability: the skill of adapting to changes in economy and population, adapting to the constant need for self-improvement and retraining. In this short period, we have redesigned policies in many fields of life, and this adapting continues. We at the University of Tartu have taken the role of a smart leader of change. Universities and scientists all over the world have taken a similar responsibility.
We can also see a change of attitude in the state governance. Decision-makers look to researchers for evidence-based advice and are willing to take that advice. The government’s promise to increase research funding confirms that they really appreciate universities and our researchers’ work. The government has also given a second important message: doctoral students will be junior research fellows and the fact that money for their salary has been planned in the state budget gives evidence that securing the new generation of educated experts is important. This is a responsible and long-sighted decision from the government.
Dear doctorands! This year there are 110 of you. Although the traditional conferment of doctorates has been cancelled today, we will have a ceremony for you in spring. You have every reason to feel unique, because supported by your experience and feedback, we have stood for changing the status of doctoral students on the national level. At the university, we are also taking steps that our future young colleagues would feel good here, that their studies would be effective. I wish you enthusiasm in bringing the science-based mindset into society. This is particularly necessary now as the evidence-based thinking is increasingly more accepted in society, yet still a rather fragile way of thinking.
Today we also planned to confer five honorary doctorates for long dedicated cooperation, and congratulated our new expatriate Estonian visiting professor. And although we cannot physically present the award for contribution to Estonian national identity, we will announce the laureate today. By selecting this year’s recipient, the national university makes itself greater, we are once again widening the scope of national thought, the actual semantic field of this concept. The recipient of the 2020 award for contribution to Estonian national identity is theatre researcher Lea Tormis. The people who nominated her for the award have aptly said that “the thread of Lea Tormis in Estonian theatre is very bright: it is the culture of thinking of theatre, of creation, of national culture.” The University of Tartu has the honour.
Dear university community! From today, let us take with us the expanding of the scope of thought in the context of the current complicated period. When adapting to unusual circumstances, it is important that none of us feels left alone. In these gloomy days as we work or study remotely, the most valuable thing for a colleague or fellow student can be a warm phone call asking “How are you?”
I wish you all the best!
At its session of 29 May, the University of Tartu Senate appointed five honorary doctorates:
Read the greeting on behalf of the honorary doctors by Helena Kääriäinen, who was granted an honorary doctorate in medical genetics.