The University community as well as friends, partners and stakeholders of the University celebrated the opening of the academic year 2023–2024 at the Main Building of the University of Turku on 5 September 2023. In his speech, Rector Jukka Kola highlighted that a strong university needs a strong community that is open to everyone.
The Opening Ceremony of the University's academic year 2023–2024 was celebrated on 5 September 2024. Earlier during the day, the University of Turku and the Student Union organised the traditional Opening Carnival.
Rector Jukka Kola gave an opening speech at the Opening Ceremony of the academic year 2023–2024. Rector Kola started his speech at the Ceremony by emphasising the importance of a strong community and encounters.
“It is essential for the well-being of us all – both students and personnel – that we are there for each other. We need a more human perspective on how we approach well-being. This is not a question of juxtaposing remote work with working on campus or remote studies with contact teaching, but whether we can find new ways to return to campus in order to improve our coping, well-being, and sense of community. I believe that we need to join our forces. Small, everyday tasks become important matters to the whole community when we work on them together,” noted Kola.
Rector Kola reminded that spending time and working together is also related to the openness of the University community.
“At the University of Turku, we are concerned about the current problematic climate towards internationalisation. I want to stress that there is no room for racism at the University of Turku: we are a community that is open to everyone. In this, the Finnish universities form a united national front. The Rectors’ council of Finnish universities UNIFI just issued a statement: the universities do not accept discrimination or racism.
Kola stated that the University of Turku wants to support the positive objectives in the government programme.
“We want to demonstrate how these goals can be reached. Universities have to be pioneers, always. It is important for the universities to drive Finland's advantage in the EU policy by influencing the EU's research funding programmes. We also want to propose workable solutions for the national RDI funding scheme – especially for the division of funding. Finland is seeking to increase the RDI funding to four percent of the gross national product, but a significant part of the growth must be directed to the universities as basic funding. Therefore, it is crucial that a large part, at least 60 percent, of this important increase in RDI funding goes specifically through the Ministry of Education and Culture.”
“We at the universities can do a great deal to boost Finland's competitiveness, productivity and security of supply in national competence as well as to secure the well-being of our people. We have the opportunity and the duty to discover the means and solutions to promote the positive objectives in the government programme, and this is what we aim to do. This should happen by respecting and strengthening the universities’ autonomy. Each day and each year, and by each government. This is how we create and strengthen Finland's advantage.”
The opening speech of Rector of the University of Turku Jukka Kola has been published online: https://blogit.utu.fi/utu/2023/09/05/strong-universities-are-finlands-advantage/
Recognitions and awards for University personnel
The University Society's awards for distinguished dissertations and the commemorative medals of the University of Turku were given at the Ceremony.
The University Society gave the awards to dissertations of exceptional quality completed during the academic year 2022–2023. With the awards, the Society wishes to encourage early career researchers. The dissertation awards were given to PhD Steffen Grebe (molecular plant biology) for the dissertation Photosynthetic characteristics of Pinaceae: From evolution to environmental acclimation, EdD Olli-Pekka Heinimäki (education) for the dissertation Functional participatory roles in collaborative science learning, DSocSci Enna Toikka (social work) for the dissertation Life satisfaction of children and adolescents in the context of subjective poverty and material deprivation (published in Finnish), and MD Felix Vaura (internal medicine) for the dissertation Phenotypic and Genetic Subtyping of Hypertension – Toward Personalized Hypertension Care.
The recipients of the commemorative medals of the University of Turku were Kari Lukka (business economics, especially accounting), Olli Koistinen (theoretical philosophy), Jyrki Korkeila (psychiatry), Helena Leino-Kilpi (nursing science), Erika Isolauri (paediatrics), Mika Teräs (medical physics), Helena Ruotsala (ethnology), Arto Jauhiainen (education), and Maarit Silven (education, especially early childhood education and care).
A short speech by Chair of the Student Union's Executive Board Akseli Tiitta was also heard at the Opening Ceremony, and Chair of the University of Turku Staff Association Mats Kommonen gave a speech on behalf of the personnel organisations. Essi Luttinen & String Duo Festivo performed at the Ceremony with Essi Luttinen, mezzo, Katriina Rainio, violin and Samuli Paavilainen, cello.