‘It’s spectacular to be part of a centuries old European academic tradition’
Professor Emeritus Jyrki Wallenius, what is so great about the conferment ceremony?
I believe the beauty of conferment ceremonies lies in the rare combination of academic solemnity, tradition and fun. This view is typically shared by all promovendis participating in conferment ceremonies, from masters to honorary doctors. Chancellors and, later on, deans have typically instructed the Conferment Committee by saying that it is not only allowed but imperative to lighten the mood in the evening!
Since the time of Paasikivi, all presidents of the Republic of Finland have been awarded an honorary doctorate at the School of Business, and they have also participated in the ceremonies. Some have participated even if they were not awarded an honorary doctorate at the time. In the past, the rectors of different universities were typically invited to participate in each other’s conferment ceremonies. They would always be glad to participate in the School of Business conferment ceremonies as they were known to be jolly. I find it particularly interesting and wonderful that many generations meet in conferment ceremonies: young masters, doctors, professors and jubilee masters. It’s spectacular to be part of a centuries old European academic tradition.
Over the past seventy years, the School of Business has established its own traditions including three-day festivities where the Spirits of Mercury (who were called Maids of Mercury until 2016) play an important role. The Laurel Wreath Weaving event takes place on the first day, the second day marks the actual Act of Conferment, and the herring luncheon is served on the third day. Those conferred a master’s degree are responsible for organising the herring luncheon, and KY’s anniversary tradition with its drinking songs have a strong presence.
The conferment ceremony is particularly memorable for those who play a special role in the ceremony. Particularly brilliant roles include those of conferrer, Spirit of Mercury, master of ceremonies and honorary doctor, not to forget those of promovendi, jubilee master and doctor.
How many conferment ceremonies have you participated in?
I have participated in some twenty conferment ceremonies. The first one was my own Master’s conferment ceremony at Helsinki School of Economics in 1971 and my doctoral conferment ceremony in 1976 with Jaakko Honko acting as promoter. During Honko’s rectorship, all those who defended their dissertations at the Helsinki School of Economics took part in a conferment ceremony. It was an honour.
While in office, I participated in the School of Business conferment ceremonies ever since 1991. In addition, I participated in three conferment ceremonies at the University of Jyväskylä, two at the University of Helsinki, and a number of conferment ceremonies in the field of technology, first at the Helsinki University of Technology and over the past ten years at Aalto University.
What are your dearest memories from a conferment ceremony?
I can think of two particularly great conferment ceremonies. The 2001 conferment ceremony at the Helsinki School of Economics, where my daughter Johanna acted as Maid of Mercury. The way she was acknowledged was incredible. As the father of the Maid of Mercury, I acted as the host of the Laurel Wreath Weaving event.
Another particularly fine ceremony was the 2011 School of Business Conferment Ceremony where I had a double role: promoter and dean. I remember reading the situation at the herring luncheon so that the participants were thirsty for one more drink. I stood up and I said: ‘One more round.’ Tuula Teeri, the first President of Aalto University, participated in this 2011 conferment ceremony and told me she had never taken part in such a great and solemn ceremony before.
Any tips for first-timers?
The School of Business conferment ceremonies are special because the festivities span over a few days. I advise taking part in all events and leaving the car at home. In addition, dance exercises on the theme of academic dance are organised in the spring. It is certainly a good idea to participate in them; you can get into mood for the approaching celebration, receive dance instruction and meet other promovendis.
Of course, the party is relatively expensive for young people, but the conferment ceremony is worth every penny. It is a unique celebration and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many, unless inclined to pursue an academic career.
Personally, I am a big fan of conferment ceremonies and would not miss any of them voluntarily. My fiancée and I were dubious about participating in the master’s conferment ceremony back in 1971 as we were still very young. However, urged by our parents, we decided to participate – and would never regret it.
I wish you warmly welcome to the School of Business 2022 Conferment Ceremony!
A special welcome to all jubilee masters who took part in the 1971 Conferment Ceremony. I hope to see you all in the ceremony this spring. Let us make it a celebration to remember. For us who graduated as Masters in 1971, it is particularly delightful that the Act of Conferment will take place in the former main building of the Helsinki School of Economics on Runeberginkatu Street, from where the promovendis march to the Temppeliaukio Church.
The festive School of Business Conferment Ceremony will be held on 12–14 May 2022. N.B. Registration period for the Conferment Ceremony ends on 28 February 2022.
Jubilee Master 2022