The History of the University of Turku
“Three Witty Men” in sunset.

​In 1820, J.V. Snellman, Elias Lönnrot and J.L. Runeberg studied in the Academy. Huhtamäki group donated a statue dedicated to these great men. The “Three Witty Men” statue was made by sculptor Harry Kivijärvi and it is situated next to the university’s main building, on the city side.

The only university in the independent Finland was the Swedish speaking University of Helsinki.  The Finnish intelligentsia felt it was important that the country should have a new Finnish university. The funds were collected with a public fund-raising and 22,040 people contributed to the cause. 

Above: The University of Turku’s inauguration and the first degree ceremony were held in May 1927. The academic pageant marches along the market square. In the background there’s the university building, the former Phoenix hotel.

The University of Turku was established in 1920.  Back then, the university was formed by the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. That year, the university purchased the 1878 built Phoenix hotel, which was situated right at the edge of the market square. Originally the hotel was meant as a temporary lodging but the university ended up staying there for 36 years. 
The Faculty of Medicine was established in 1943 to serve a nation in war.

Gold Nuggets from Yukon

In the 1940’s the university received a notable bequest. Johnsson/Joutsen brothers, sons of a smith from the village of Nummenmäki (nowadays incorporated into the city of Turku), who had made their fortunes on the Klondike gold field in Yukon, Canada.

The brothers had no heirs and Karl Fredrik Joutsen willed his whole fortune, including his stone house and gold findings, to the University of Turku. Thanks to the donation, the university was able to move from the cramped Phoenix hotel to the Ryssänmäki or Vesilinnanmäki Hill. The university’s gold treasure includes gold watches and gold nuggets from Klondike, the largest weighing 240g. 

Above: The inauguration of the university’s new buildings on the 23rd of May in 1959. The revealing of the main building’s inscription  “The University of Turku - From a Free People to Free Science and Learning”.

The University is Nationalised in the 1970’s

The Faculty of Law was established in 1960. The Faculty of Social Sciences departed from the Faculty of Humanities in 1967 and in 1974 the Faculty of Education was established.

The private University of Turku was a small institution. It was nationalized in 1974. The university’s expansive years were in the 1960’s but the growth continues still. 

Above: In the 1970’s the universities in Turku were able to use a particle accelerator. This combined with the successful research work in radio chemistry lead to a new ground-breaking imaging technique, the positron emission tomography. The first full-length PET scanner came to the university in June 1988.

The number of degrees is increasing and postgraduate education is made more efficient.  Lately, the extramural studies organized by the Brahea Centre for Training and Development, the Open university teaching and the developing of economic life have become even more notable than before.

In 2007, negotiations between the University of Turku and the Turku School of Economics started. The university consortium began its work the 1st of August 2008 and in January 2009 the boards of the consortium universities decided to merge the University of Turku and the Turku School of Economics to a new university starting from January 1st 2010.



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