Greeting on behalf of the honorary doctors

Read the greeting on behalf of the honorary doctors from Helena Kääriäinen, who is a professor and the head of the Department of Clinical Genetics at Turku University Hospital. Kääriläinen was granted an honorary doctorate in medical genetics for her achievements in the research and development of medical genetics and long-term successful cooperation with the University of Tartu researchers.

Very honorable Rector!
Very honorable Meer of Tartu!
Dear honorable doctorate recipients and doctors!
Dear colleagues and friends!

I have privilege to greet you on behalf of honorary doctorate recipients.

Yes, it is really a very great honor, and surprise, to be nominated as Doctor Honoris Causa of Tartu University. I am sure that all the other honorary doctorate recipients share the same feelings. Why was I chosen to accept this honor? I believe, that it was because I have had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with Estonian colleagues since the first years of 1990; both with clinical geneticists and the world famous experts of Estonian Biobank.

Tartu University is highly respected. It is the oldest, largest and most multidisciplinary of the Universities in Estonia. It is also highly ranked in the World University Rankings. It was founded in 1632 during the Thirty Years' War and the founding charter was officially signed by the Swedish King Gustaf den andre Adolf; he is told to have been at a war camp at that time.

So the starting point is quite similar with my own university. University of Helsinki was also founded as a Swedish university in 1640; so eight years later than Tartu University. The University’s name was originally the Royal Academy of Turku. In 1809 the University was moved to Helsinki and got the name Imperial Alexander University in Finland. When the independent Finnish republic began, about at the same time as Estonia, the name was changed to the University of Helsinki.

What is so great about these two universities and actually all universities in general. I think it is the multidiciplinarity. Real universities like Tartu and Helsinki have teaching and research in numerous academic disciplines. In the modern world where we sometimes seem to appreciate economic success over real culture and real civilization, this kind of universities have a growingly important role.  The word university is actually derived from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which roughly means "community of teachers and scholars".

I believe that Talinn is bigger than Tartu but Tartu is the Estonian centre of research and civilization because of the University and that makes Tartu very special: one can nearly breathe the special atmosphere when walking in the streets of Tartu.

This has been a very exceptional year. Now, if not before, we all have understood that we are not “Finland” or “Estonia” but we are a world. We all are inhabitants of this globe. We need each other in fighting the pandemic. We need each other in overcoming the climate change. We need each other in fighting against fake news. And of course, we need each other in science! In all of these goals universities have a very important role.

With these words I once again, on behalf of all the honorary doctorate recipients, want to thank Tartu University. I wish the young doctors, more than a hundred I have heard, success in your life. And I wish all of us health and happiness! Thank you!