Pentti Leppänen, Teemu Leppänen

Father and son to share conferment ceremony in May

Pentti Leppänen will be awarded an honorary doctorate at the conferment ceremony held at the University of Oulu in May. The doctoral degree of his son Teemu Leppänen will be conferred at the same ceremony.

Sharing a conferment ceremony is more of a funny coincidence than a conscious goal of the pair. In Teemu’s childhood, academics did not play a large role in the everyday life of the down-to-earth family.

“However, the University of Oulu was quite young. Academics did not have such an old and respected status. We just wanted to do things, help the North and raise the profile of Oulu,” Pentti says.

Thanks to his father’s profession, their home was always full of information technology, so it is quite natural that Teemu, through his hobby, also went on to study in a technical field. The university was also a familiar place: Teemu spent his childhood with his sister playing in lecture halls, driving the caretakers’ bicycles in corridors and playing chess on the outdoor chess set.

“Although the children were allowed to choose their fields independently, as a parent I am pleased that they found their way to the University of Oulu,” Pentti says.

Mindset for getting things done at the university

Pentti was working at the university when Teemu started his university studies. During his studies, Teemu only attended one course taught by his father. His exam was drawn up and graded by a colleague. Studying and working in the same faculty did not attract particular attention in either man’s circle of friends.

“It’s normal to see Dad at faculty events. The only difference between me and my fellow students was that I had a much more relaxed attitude to professors,” Teemu says.

Although both men have built a career in academia, they have a very practical approach to work. Back in the day, Pentti strongly involved companies in research and saw them as a driving force. Teemu worked in the private sector for a decade before he ended up as a researcher.

“A company aims to sell a product, and I learned some practical understanding there. You brainstorm more freely at the university. I especially like the fact that something new is always happening here and I am constantly learning something new,” Teemu says.

Looking forward to the conferment ceremony

Pentti is very happy to receive the honorary doctorate. During his 50-year career, he has been involved in nominating two different honorary doctors, but back then he could not foresee that his turn would come.

“I was surprised by the honour. Usually, each faculty has chosen people from outside the university,” Pentti says.

Conferment traditions are familiar to Pentti because he has been involved in a conferment ceremony as a host. Ceremoniousness does not come naturally to him, although the distinguished ceremony is a pleasure to watch. Teemu is also slightly nervous because everyone has a prewritten role in the conferment ceremony. However, his attitude is clearly enthusiastic.

“It is a centuries-old academic tradition that you only experience once in a lifetime, so of course I want to attend!” laughs Teemu.


More information 

All University of Oulu doctors, remember to register to the conferment ceremony by January 31.

Last updated: 28.1.2020