Traditions were observed and new things created at the opening ceremony of Aalto University
The official inauguration of Aalto University took place in Finlandia Hall and Kiasma on 8th January 2010: traditions were honoured while, at the same time, something new and unique was being created.
A pioneer changing the world
The speakers at the opening included, in addition to the President of the Republic of Finland Tarja Halonen, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, Aalto President Tuula Teeri and President of Aalto University Student Union Jussi Valtonen. The idea was to make the launch a part of the society around, and its main elements were fire, light and video.
The President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen, welcomed the new university in her opening address, after which Finland's Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen greeted Aalto University on behalf of himself and the Government of Finland and thanked those who had contributed to the creation of the new university.
- The humane general task of the Aalto University is to be involved in answering questions and opportunities, as - in the words of Alvar Aalto - "the technical culture" will have an increasingly wide impact on all civilisations, societies and natural environments. The special task of the Aalto University is to contribute to helping Finland in this humane development as well as to succeed both internally and externally, Vanhanen pointed out.
- Finnish companies operating on the global market are compelled to acquire knowledge and expertise from the best places in the world. Our universities, therefore, must be able to answer the needs of global companies - if they cannot do so, then many companies' research activities will be transferred away from Finland. It was to this challenge that President Yrjö Sotamaa responded in a new way in opening the academic year at the University of Art and Design Helsinki in autumn 2005. He proposed that three universities be merged into a single innovation university, Vanhanen reminded the listeners.
- Aalto University is not a national development project, but a global regionalisation project from the world to Finland, Vanhanen reminded.
The Prime Minister expressed his wish that education provided by Aalto University could be marketed to students outside the EU without a delay, thus ensuring, with the help of student grants, better prospects for the students in developing countries also in the future.
- I use this distinguished forum to state that it is time to abandon our allergy to selling Finnish education to the world through tuition fees, the Prime Minister said.
Tenure Track career path for Aalto University
- Aalto University has been granted more freedom, but also given the responsibility to build a world class university in Finland. We will base our efforts on the strengths and values characteristic to Finland and the Finnish people - diligence and perseverance - the so called Finnish SISU, Aalto President Tuula Teeri said.
- One of the most significant single investments in Aalto University will be tenure track, a career path system based on international models. Starting this year, Aalto University will be opening 20-40 new tenure track positions annually. The adoption of the tenure track model will guarantee continuous renewal, and also internationalization of the university, Teeri pointed out.
Risto Nieminen to become the first Aalto Professor
According to the Aalto International Research Assessment Exercise carried out in 2009, the two most successful units of the university are the Department of Applied Physics and the Department of Information and Computer Science at the Aalto University School of Science and Technology.
- Aalto University rewards these and seventeen particularly successful units in the research assessment with extra funding for the next three years. The results of the research assessment will also provide important guidance for setting the future research priorities of Aalto University, Teeri told.
- In striving for excellence, it is essential that good achievements are continuously acknowledged and rewarded. Therefore the career track at Aalto University does not end at a permanent professorship but a promotion to a distinguished professor category, the Aalto Professor, is also possible. This is a position awarded to faculty that has achieved an internationally leading position in their field. It is my great pleasure therefore to announce that the first nomination in this category has been awarded to Professor Risto Nieminen from the Department of Applied Physics at the Aalto University School of Science and Technology. Professor Nieminen is specializing in computational condensed-matter and materials physics, including nanosciences and nanotechnology, Teeri said.
- The International Research Assessment Exercise praised Aalto University as exemplary in social responsibility. The university was described a committed partner in collaborations based on real-life problems, challenges and opportunities. We will work to maintain and strengthen our societal impact by building long-lasting, strategic partnerships. We will also create new forms of interaction with the world of industry and commerce and with public bodies in Finland and internationally, Teeri promised.
Inauguration in the Second Life
The inauguration of Aalto University was also celebrated in the Aalto Island built in the Second Life virtual world where the guests can follow the events in Finlandia Hall as a direct transmission and participate in discussions.
In the speech in Second Life, President Teeri assured the students that Aalto University will invest in the quality of teaching and learning. She promised that the number of qualified teachers will be increased and the quality of student counselling improved.
- We want to provide our students with an inspiring, ambitious and interactive learning environment where they are acknowledged as members of the academic community. We hope that this will motivate the students to work diligently and to learn eagerly, Teeri said.
Strength from differences
The new President of Aalto University Student Union, Jussi Valtonen, urged the students and the teachers to challenge each other in pursuing learning-centred culture and to seize cross-scientific opportunities. Valtonen encouraged those in Aalto to find solutions in work parties with partners, companies and society.
- Aalto gets its strength from being different: Let's value the expertise of each one of us. We need to support each other in our different ambitions and dreams. Let's make Aalto the Google of the university world, a place to where more and more people head to realize their passion, Valtonen exhorted.
The visual image of the opening ceremony was mainly constructed around the visual entity designed by visual artist Jenni Valorinta. The performers in the event included Liisa Pentti with her dance group and Raoul Björkenheim, Iiro Rantala New Trio, Senni Eskelinen, as well as fire artists Trio Taika.
President Tuula Teeri, Aalto University
Phone +358 50 512 4194
president [at] aaltouniversity [dot] fi
Aalto Island SLurl
The speeches delivered at the opening ceremony (pdf):
President of the Republic Tarja Halonen
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen
Tuula Teeri, President of Aalto University
Jussi Valtonen, President of Aalto University Student Union
Initiator of Aalto University, Professor Yrjö Sotamaa and
Professor of Corporate Responsibility Minna Halme
Photos: Aino Huovio