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Founding of the JMC

In August 2012, Rector Kalervo Väänänen of the University of Turku set up a task force, led by Professor Emeritus Keijo Virtanen, to plan the organization and funding of a “United States Institute.” The members of the task force included C.E.O. Kristiina Helenius (AmCham Finland), Professor Emeritus Markku Henriksson (University of Helsinki), Professor Emeritus Risto Hiltunen (University of Turku), Professor Emeritus Auvo Kostiainen (University of Turku), Professor Ossi Lindqvist (University of Eastern Finland), Program Director Tapani Vaahtoranta (Uongozi Institute, Tanzania), Director Ismo Söderling (Institute of Migration), Ambassador Jukka Valtasaari (The League of the Finnish American Societies), Professor Jarmo Virmavirta, Adjunct Professor Kimmo Elo, and Lic. Phil. Markus Kantola. The task force conducted its work from August 7, 2012 to May 31, 2013.

The final report drafted by the task force concluded that, while there was North American Studies conducted at universities in Finland, the field was fragmented and there was need for a national institute that would cater for the research, teaching, and public debate on North American Studies. Consequently, the task force recommended that an institute named the John Morton Center for North American Studies be established at the University of Turku. The Center is named after John Morton, a politician of Finnish descent, who was one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence of the United States in 1776. Funding for the first three years of the Center comes from the University of Turku, the Turku University Foundation, and the City of Turku. In addition to a Director and a Research Coordinator, the Center comprises a Board (7-10 members) and an advisory Council (20-40 members) for the period of 2014-2016.

On November 11, 2013, Rector Väänänen issued a statement according to which The John Morton Center for North American Studies was established at the University of Turku. The Center was placed within the School of Social Sciences as part of the Department of Political Science. At the same time, the Rector appointed members of the Board, Professor Henri Vogt, Chair (University of Turku), Outi Korhonen, Vice-chair (University of Turku), Professor Emeritus Markku Henriksson (University of Helsinki), Professor Emeritus Auvo Kostiainen (University of Turku), Professor Emeritus Risto Hiltunen (University of Turku), Director Ismo Söderling (Institute of Migration), Executive Director Terhi Mölsä (Fulbright Center), and Senior Researcher Minna Ruckenstein (National Consumer Research Centre). In January 2014, Rector Väänänen appointed Dr. Benita Heiskanen as Director of the Center and Dr. Johanna Leinonen was employed as the Research Coordinator. The John Morton Center for North American Studies began its activities on February 1, 2014. The members of the Council were appointed during 2014.

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