Kunniatohtorin vastaus, FT h.c. Bernard De Baets
Dr. Mari-Liisa Varila, distinguished members of the faculties and administration of the University of Turku, fellow honorary doctors, new doctors, and guests

Good evening, hyvää iltaa.

It is my privilege to have been asked to respond, on behalf of the 12 new honorary doctors of University of Turku, to the thoughtful words just addressed to us. We are here to celebrate together with 136 new doctors – graduated from the seven faculties of the University of Turku over the past two years – the entire academic community and its esteemed guests. Each of these doctors has dedicated some of the best years of her or his life – and the unavoidable blood, sweat and tears – to add another brick, window or even entire floor to the house of knowledge we call science. The entire community is highly appreciative for that.

But how did we – the 12 new honorary doctors – end up here? All of us recall the cryptic e-mail dated January 18, 2017 saying: Please find attached a letter from Rector Kalervo Väänänen concerning the Conferment Ceremonies of the University of Turku this May. Opening the attachment – a major risk in the age of malware – resulted in a rollercoaster of emotions, ranging from surprise over disbelief and pride to the modest gratitude we show here today. None of us recalls having done anything out of the ordinary, yet other people considered we did and dedicated time and efforts to nominate us and put us on a pedestal. We are most grateful for that.

I’m sure that most of the honorary doctors googled Conferment Ceremony Turku, and came across one surprise after the other, even more when clicking on "Images". What an outstanding tradition, the hat, the sword, the sword sharpening, the banquet, the ball, the speech to the sun and the mysterious white tie. Anticipating these events, sending our measurements and a self-made scan of our head, up to really experiencing the past two days will leave indelible marks in our memory and that of our partners, enjoying every moment together with us.

Yet, we are here not only to celebrate, but also to give some advice to the fresh doctors, entering industry, service to society or pursuing further academic dreams. Once a scientist, always a scientist. Continue the hard work and study, but do not forget to be amazed by the beauty of nature and mind – such as elegant mathematical proofs, the poetry of science – and let serendipity kick in from time to time. Don’t worry about administrators worshipping impact factors and h-indices, they come and go. More importantly, in these times of fake news and alternative facts, we need young dedicated people like you to show the light. And don’t worry, we are now here to protect you. After all, we have our personal swords, although we would rather do it with our voice and pen. And do not forget, there are not just 12 of us, we represent numerous colleagues from all cultures, races and religions.

I would like to conclude on a personal note. As my university – Ghent University – is celebrating its two-hundredth birthday, I would like to toast to the hundredth birthday of the fascinating country Finland is, to all doctors and honorary doctors, and to all of you present. Please join me and say Onneksi Olkoon! Kippis!.
Asiasana:
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