The Opening Ceremony of the Academic Year was finally celebrated live — see awardees and recording

The opening of the academic year of the University of Oulu was celebrated in Salaasti Hall on Monday 5 September. Saalasti Hall was almost full of party guests. The celebration began with a traditional procession of the professors and culminated in the award of distinguished members of the University community.
Rectori Jouko Niinimäki giving speech in Saalastinsali.

Rector Jouko Niinimäki raised in his inaugural address how, as the global corona pandemic gradually relents, we have suddenly faced a new security policy crisis.

“The war in Ukraine is changing the world. We have to adapt to new geopolitical realities, that are reflected in everyday life also here at our University through increasing prices of energy, services and food as well as, for example, in the narrowing of travel possibilities. Finland’s country image is changing and migration flows of international students and researchers are turning in new directions. The war is also changing research priorities: for example, replacing fossil fuels and reducing energy consumption are now more important than ever.”

“Only change and adaptation to it is permanent. That is what we as members of the university know well and work as a community through science and education precisely to understand the situations that have changed and, as a society, be able to adapt sustainably to changes. Civility bears over crises. Our work supports our ability to prevent or mitigate unwanted phenomena such as global warming, deprivation, hunger or inequality. The UN Global Agenda for Sustainable Development serves as an excellent guideline for what we are pursuing.”

In his speech, Niinimäki also took a stand on university democracy.

“The more involvement of university memebers in the preparation and decision-making process, both through the organizational structure and through democratic institutions, the wider the understanding and the wiser the university is able to make in its activities. It is also important that democratic institutions and leadership structures interact constructively.”

Attention to students' mental health

The state of Finland’s greeting in the ceremony was delivered by Hanna Sarkkinen, Minister of Social Affairs.

“Climate change and the destruction of nature, the challenges of demographic change, inequality and polarization, crises and instabilities, disinformation and the crisis of democracy, and diseases and health problems — science and education are needed to solve all these big social and global problems. “

Sarkkinen also raised the issue of student welfare in her speech.

“A third of college students suffer from mental health problems. We and future governments have a lot of work to do to improve the prevention and treatment of mental health problems. If people are doing poorly, then neither does the organisation and society have the refusal to succeed. I hope that Finnish jobs, colleges and universities will take the goal of being places of good mind. At a university of good minds, people are doing well and eventually accomplish more as well.”

Campus vision is created together

In her speech, Lotta Leinonen, Chairman of the Student Union, rejoiced that the corridors on campuses were filled with people again.

“This academic year is special. Studying will continue in the new normal and will return to campuses after a long period of distance learning. During that time, the university took many steps forward for example streaming lectures and electronic course presentations. Study completion became more flexible and in many areas adherence to employment became easier when courses could be completed according to one's own schedules.”

Leinonen also chairs the Campus Vision Working Group, whose task is to consider what the University of Oulu will look like in 2050.

“Working on campus vision has been a really interesting project, with enough challenges. I want to succeed in that. The working group wants to create a campus vision that genuinely emerges from within the community and that we would all be proud of together.”

Awards for community members

Persons distinguished in the university community were honoured in the opening ceremony.

Professor Caglar Elbuken was awarded for receiving Consolidator Grant research funding from the European Research Council for his multidisciplinary project on vascular networks. The ERC Consolidator Grant is highly competitive research funding supporting ambitious projects. Elbuken’s recently established research team is interested in studying fluids at the micro and nano scale.

Senior Research Fellow Arto Reiman and Postdoctoral Researcher Päivi Kekkonen were awarded for the well-designed course “Työhyvinvoinnin ja työturvallisuuden perusteet”. The course supports students' amenity.

Research and Project Services’ EU Team, including Research Funding Specialists Janika Luukinen and Kirsi Ojutkangas and Specialist Annina Jaako were awarded for systematizing the EU project preparation process, supporting researchers and providing services to the university community. More projects have been won under the new Horizon Europe programme in the past year than in any other year.

In addition, three other parties were rewarded for exemplary activity in accordance with the university’s values:

University lecturer Maria Sinche Gonzalez was awarded for promoting the University of Oulu value “creating new” and for the first Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s programme coordinated by the University of Oulu. As a result of extensive international cooperation, a new master’s degree programme “Sustainable Mineral and Metal Processing Engineering” will begin. The studies will start in Oulu in autumn 2022 and continue at European universities.

Solution designer Angela Suorsa was awarded for promoting the University of Oulu value “taking responsibility” and for helping international students settle in Oulu. She extensively contributes to the university’s diversity by using her experience, knowledge and passion to guide international students in finding their future and career path in Finland, especially Oulu.

Professor Sanna Järvelä was awarded the University of Oulu for the exemplary implementation of the value “succeeding together”. Sanna Järvelä has done long-term work to increase intra-university cooperation interdisciplinarily. She has made openings for joint research funding applications and constantly highlights the expertise of researchers from other faculties.

Watch the ceremony recording

Last updated: 6.9.2022