The Opening Day of the new academic year consisted of the Opening Carnival of the Student Union and the UTU100 Fair of the University organised by the Aura River as well as of the virtual Opening Ceremony in the evening. The Teacher, Course and Language Deed of the Year were awarded at the Opening Carnival where visitors got to learn more about the member organisations of the Student Union. The UTU100 Fair showcased science and research at the University of Turku which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
The rain stopped just in time for the beginning of the stage programme and sun was shining while Rector Jukka Kola gave his opening speech. Kola noted that the 100-year-old University is a creative and constantly developing organisation which has great significance during these exceptional, even challenging times.
The Opening Carnival has traditionally been an outdoor event. Now, the Carnival was combined with the UTU100 Fair in celebration of our 100th anniversary year. The Fair offered speeches on science and researcher interviews on the UTU100 Stage and the fair stands gave the audience a chance to get to know research projects and researchers. Face masks were distributed at the event, visitors were offered the possibility to wash and disinfect their hands, and safe distances were ensured.
– We find it important in this changed world to be able to continue organising events, meet other people and develop our operation by taking into account all the safety requirements, says Communications Director Anne Paasi from the University of Turku.
Teacher and Course of the Year Were Awarded at the Opening Carnival
The Teacher and Course of the Year were revealed and awarded at the Opening Carninval of the Student Union. Teacher of the Year 2020 is University Research Fellow Pekka Laukkanen from the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The reasons stated that Laukkanen is able to create an inspiring learning environment with his personality and actions.
– You have the gift of genuinely listening to your students, helping them trust their own skills and encouraging them to learn complex matters. You are also a talented supervisor who can help with questions related to both academic matters and professional life skills, reasoned Rector Jukka Kola at the event.
Laukkanen said that the recognition gives him confidence and cheers him on during the upcoming remote teaching.
– A big thank you to the students, and to the Department and the University for giving me the possibility to practice the demanding job of a teacher, thanked Laukkanen.
The awarded Course of the Year comes from the Faculty of Social Sciences with Ville Soimetsä and Matti Välimäki as the responsible teachers. The Contemporary History course explores the development of Finnish foreign relations, other international interactions and social history. It is said to be a versatile course that is the results of many years of collaboration between several teachers.
– The course is realised as lectures that are supported with small groups. Each lecture has a different teacher and the small groups are led by senior students. This model supports and creates the sense of community between staff and students, thanked Rector Kola.
The Language Deed of the Year was also revealed at the Carnival and this year, it was awarded to all our language teachers since they have given our students the chance to learn new languages and cultures during these exceptional circumstances.
Rector Jukka Kola at the Opening Ceremony: University Builds the New Normal
The Opening Ceremony of the academic year during the University's 100th anniversary year was celebrated virtually. The recording of this evening event (in Finnish) will be available later. In his opening speech, Rector Jukka Kola discussed the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on research, teaching and studying at the University.
– We have learned a great deal from these past six months of working and studying remotely due to the coronavirus. Continuous analysis and development are important in order to create new, innovative ways of working, studying and social interaction, noted Rector Kola.
Kola turned the focus towards the future and told about the new Strategy for 2021–2030 which was completed last year by strongly engaging our University community in the planning.
– Then, it was not possible to consider the effects of the coronavirus. Neither was it necessary, as we are now building the “new normal” already for next year and, at the same time, decade. We are building a strong and sustainable future.
At the beginning of a new academic year, Rector Kola pointed out the strategic goal of inspiring unique learning experience and outstanding learning outcomes.
– It is important for the development of our education to engage students in research already in the early phases of their studies. Students could and should also be involved more in teaching tasks, even in these times characterised by the coronavirus. This way, students are more closely integrated into our University and science community. It also has an impact on their future career plans and professional life skills.
Kola also noted that it is important to break down boundaries and create interesting and high-quality, extensive education initiatives, such as the Centre for Education and Research on Social and Health Services, and the AI Academy.
– This way, we can use resources effectively and increase the quality of teaching. Also, and especially, in these coronavirus circumstances, interdisciplinary collaboration is important. At the same time, we reinforce openness, equality and non-discrimination as well as genuine sense of community at our University.
Recognitions and Awards Distributed at the Opening Ceremony
Turku Finnish University Society awarded five distinguished dissertations in the Opening Ceremony of the academic year. In celebration of the University's centenary, one distinguished dissertation was awarded from each Faculty of the University.
The receivers of the dissertation awards were M.Pol.Sc. Niko Hatakka, LLD Maija Helminen, PhD Mingzhe Jiang, D.H.Sc. Anu-Marja Kaihlanen, PhD Antti Lindfors, D.Sc. (Econ.) Matti Minkkinen and Ed. D. Jenni Tikkanen.
In addition, the commemorative medal of the University was awarded to Heikki Hämäläinen, Jorma Ilonen, Risto Kaaja, Erkki Korpimäki, Kimmo Lehtonen, Heini-Marja Pakula, Kim Pettersson, Risto Rinne, Seppo Soinila, Jussi Vahtera and Juha Varrela.