University of Tartu awards Skytte Medal to Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik

On 29 May, the senate of the University of Tartu made a decision to award the Skytte Medal to the Minister of Social Affairs, Tanel Kiik. The university recognises Kiik for his substantial contribution to promoting evidence-based governance in Estonia and involving the University of Tartu and its researchers in the management of the emergency situation.

The Skytte Medal may be awarded to a statesperson or public figure who, in the opinion of the senate of the University of Tartu, has greatly contributed to the development of the University of Tartu and higher education in Estonia in the recent years.

On 12 March 2020, to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Estonia, the government declared emergency situation that lasted until 18 May. The fact that the outbreak subsided quickly and the worst risk scenarios did not actualise confirm the relevance of the government’s actions.

The University of Tartu was directly involved in the management of the emergency situation, both as a research institution and via university experts who participated in the work of the science council set up by the government. According to the Rector’s Office of the University of Tartu, Tanel Kiik had a significant role in introducing the science-based approach to the government’s activities.

Rector Toomas Asser said that Tanel Kiik has been a determined advocate of relying on the expertise of universities and scientists in decision-making processes. “This has brought about the government members and state officials’ informed and favourable attitude to the principles of science-based governance,” said Asser.

University members have worked out decision-making mechanisms and studies that meet objective criteria and, over a short period, collected science-based data necessary for the government to assess the emergency measures. “The shaping of evidence-based attitudes in governance will create better grounds for managing of potential future crises,” Asser added.

Tanel Kiik was born on 23 January 1989. He is a cum laude graduate from Pärnu College of the University of Tartu in Entrepreneurship and Project Management and is continuing his studies in the master’s programme of European Studies. As a representative of one of the founders of Tartu University Hospital Foundation, he has a major role in directing the development of the university hospital.

Earlier awardees of the Skytte Medal include Ene Ergma, Tõnis Lukas, Rein Taagepera, Dag Hartelius, Andres Lipstok, Jüri Raidla, Andrus Ansip, Lennart Meri, Katarina Brodina, Jacques Faure, Kai Lie, Svend Roed Nielsen, Mihkel Pärnoja, Marju Lauristin, Mart Laar, Katri Raik and Eva Åkesson.

Johan Skytte was a Swedish politician and statesman, under whose initiative Academia Gustaviana was founded in Tartu in 1632.

Further information: Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary, University of Tartu, +372 529 7917,