Portrait of Rector Jukka Kola unveiled at ceremony


At the ceremony on 11 June 2024, Rector Jukka Kola, who will end his term at the end of July, highlighted the necessity of change.

A large number of members of the University community and representatives of stakeholders gathered in the Tauno Nurmela lecture hall in the University's Main Building to celebrate Rector Jukka Kola’s term as the Rector. Kola has been the Rector of the University of Turku since 1 August 2019. His five-year term ends at the end of July.  

Vice Rector Piia Björn opened the event by comparing the lives and terms of office of Tauno Nurmela (Rector 1960–70) and Jukka Kola – both born in Lappee, South Karelia, and both internationally oriented developers of the University.    

“During Nurmela’s term as the Rector, there were 7,000 students in the University of Turku. During Kola’s term, the number of students exceeded the magical 20,000 limit, a significant number even by international standards. The University has been the most popular higher education institution in Finland in terms of the number of applicants twice during Kola's term of office,” said Björn. 

In her speech, Chair of the Advisory Board of the University of Turku Mari Pantsar emphasised that Rector Kola has succeeded in the demanding task of being the Rector, which is not easy even under normal circumstances, let alone in times of upheavals that have a far-reaching impact on societies, such as a pandemic or wars.

"Kola has highlighted the significance of encounters, community well-being, and working together. As the Rector, he has emphasised the high quality of research and education and the resulting impact of the University. Kola's contribution to the development of the Finnish higher education sector as a whole has also been significant in his role as the Chair of the Council of Rectors of Finnish Universities (Unifi), where he has, for example, highlighted the need to increase RDI funding."

Pantsar thanked Kola for his passionate dedication to his duties and for his active role in defending trust in science.

A portrait photograph by photographer Juha Törmälä was unveiled at the ceremony. Törmälä said he wants his works to show the personality and the real person behind the public role.  

“When taking a portrait photograph, the most important thing is the encounter, the way in which we make contact. Jukka came into the situation openly with his own personality. I wanted the natural light in the Main Building to be part of the work," said Törmälä.

The portrait photograph will become part of the University's art collection. Students and members of the Executive Board of the Student Union Victoria Luovikari and Vilppu Tolvi acted as the heralds. 

In his speech, Rector Kola thanked the University community and stakeholders as well as his closest colleagues and family.  

Kola said that developing the University's internationality in versatile ways was closest to his heart. He also emphasised the importance of the autonomy of universities, the freedom of science and research, and the security of supply in competence.  

As an example of his management philosophy, he mentioned the idea of management as a service activity.  

“Knowledge-based management is important, but you also need to have emotional intelligence and receptiveness. Part of leadership is making sure that the working conditions are right – you have to listen, not just hear. What is important is open, development-oriented discussion and mutual respect – appreciation of your own work and that of others."

Kola pointed out that it is important to consider the social butterfly effect, derived from chaos theory, for the development of both individuals and communities.  

“We influence many people through our behaviour, and everyone has a small window of opportunity to improve their own behaviour. The idea is that change will not happen unless we change ourselves."

To conclude, Kola quoted Einstein:  

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. Movement is change. Let's keep moving!"

The event featured song performances by the double quartet of the Turku University Choir, among others the Finnish folk song Karjalan kunnailla (‘On the Hills of Karelia’). 

A quilt knitted by members of staff was presented to the Rector, as is tradition.

Chair of the Board of the University of Turku Ritva Viljanen thanked Kola at the Board meeting on 10 June.

> Read the interview: 
Outgoing Rector Jukka Kola: Internationality is a prerequisite for success


Text: Tuomas Koivula
Translation: Saara Yli-Kauhaluoma
Photos: Suvi Harvisalo, Anne Paasi

Created 14.06.2024 | Updated 14.06.2024