Conferment Ceremony

The most important and ceremonious event of the conferment celebrations, the Conferment Ceremony, has always taken the biggest part of the doctors’ and organisers’ attention. In 1955, a considerable amount of time had passed since the last conferment, 28 years. The conferment book reveals that the whole of Turku was looking forward to the academic event:

In the morning of June 3, 1955, the blue and white flags were run up in Turku to celebrate academic Minerva. The University of Turku was preparing for the inaugural ceremony of its new buildings which also included the completion of the Faculty of Medicine. At the same event, also the Ceremonial Conferment of Master’s and doctoral Degrees of philosophy as well as medicine and surgery was to take place. Therefore, it is understandable that the academic spirit had taken over the whole city of Turku. A distinguished group of high-ranking guests had gathered to honour the University’s celebration and in the afternoon thousands of the townspeople came to see the splendid show.

In 1960, the morning of the Conferment Ceremony started even busier than usual:

As the doctors could not rehearse for the ceremony during the Wreath Binding Ceremony because of a coincidence, they had to hurry to the Concert Hall in the morning of the Ceremony, where the rehearsal was carried out with temperament in the nervous atmosphere of a dress rehearsal. The doctors had only a short moment for dressing up after the rehearsal as they had to reconvene at 12.30pm in a building next to the Concert Hall.

In the previous Ceremonial Conferment in 1955, the event proceeded according to the planned schedule. The atmosphere was typical for the preparation of the Ceremony, hectic:

There was bustle and a crowd at 12.30pm in Turku Adult Education Centre, which is right next to the Concert Hall, where the participants of the academic procession gathered to organise the procession. Each had been told their place in the procession but the situation looked difficult as the crowd unfamiliar with the building and in part not understanding the language was heaving in the narrow and labyrinth corridors. However, with his audible voice and well-prepared heralds, the Head Marshal had everyone quickly in their places and then precisely at 1pm the long procession of 200 people started to make its way through the corridors and up and down the stairs towards the Concert Hall, which had filled up with people in the meantime.

When the procession had entered the Concert Hall and everyone was on their places, the Conferment Ceremony started. In 1955, the Ceremony lasted for three hours.

During the Ceremony, the honorary doctors and the doctors received the symbols of their degree, the doctoral hat, sword and diploma. The University of Turku has conferred the leading characters of science and culture and prominent figures in the society as honorary doctors. For example, in 1990, Queen of Sweden Silvia and Composer Aulis Sallinen were conferred as honorary doctors of philosophy.

In the Ceremony of 1980, Professor Lauri Honko was the conferrer of the philosophical faculties and gave the traditional Conferment Ceremony speech. In his speech, Honko contemplated the Ceremony in the following words:

The Ceremonial Conferment is a celebration of scientific knowledge. By gathering in this event we acknowledge that we are among the producers, suppliers and users of information. From the point of view of cultural sciences, the conferment is a rite of passage, a ceremony which the community uses to transfer its members from one status to another. The ceremonial initiation to knowledge and to the possession of the rights and duties it brings is not limited to western civilization or even to education. The initiation rites of tribes without writing can be seen as the early predecessors of the ceremonial conferment.


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