My Kauppis Memory: I congratulated three generations of business school graduates

‘Grateful alumni are the best possible praise for the university’
Eero Kasanen, Rector of School of Business

To celebrate the School of Business 110 years this year we ask former and current members of the School of Business community (especially faculty and staff) to share their memories of the School. These memories will comprise the ‘My Kauppis Memory’ series of stories.

My time at the School of Business is filled with sweet memories and good friends. It was part of my life for about 30 years. I had moments of pleasure at the department's lunch breaks, in rigorous scientific debates, working on reforms with the management team and at parties. The ceremonies of conferment and the annual balls of KY (School of Business student association) in particular have been extremely elegant, emotional and fun. However, due to the nature of those events, I don’t have too many details to tell...

There were two events during my rector's term that forced me to really stop and think about how great the Helsinki School of Economics, now the Aalto University School of Business, is.

It was early 2000s when Director of Administration Esa Ahonen and I were informed out of the blue that the School of Business would receive a significant donation from Denmark. It turned out that Charles Nyberg (1904–85), who graduated from the Business and Banking Department of the Helsinki School of Economics on 31 May 1928, together with his spouse Ulla Nyberg, had donated 5 million euros (30 million Finnish marks) in his will to the School of Economics. The will stated that the funds are a thank you for the good teaching that Charles Nyberg had received, which had helped him to build a successful international career.

The bequest was made to the Finnish Foundation for Economic Education, where Charles and Ulla Nyberg’s special fund was established in 2004. According to the rules of the fund, the fund's returns are used to develop the teaching at the Helsinki School of Economics and to promote research carried out there. In order to respect the work of kauppaneuvos (Finnish honorary title) Charles Nyberg's life work, priority is given to the research and teaching of international business. The funds filled a real need, and they have helped to finance many significant international openings, such as inviting top researchers to Finland with very quick and flexible decisions.

We remember Charles and Ulla Nyberg with great appreciation and gratitude. Because of their donation, I spent time with Esa thinking about the kind of teaching that was given at the School of Economics in the 1920s, which had laid the foundation for a successful international career. We discussed in particular how we can ensure that we offer as high-level teaching to the new challenges of the economy, both now and in the future, as was given a century ago at the School of Economics. A grateful alumnus or alumna is the best possible praise for the university.

Another memorable moment is from a graduation ceremony. The atmosphere is always dignified at a graduation, as students become academically certified experts accompanied by festive and emotional speeches. After the graduation ceremony, a fresh business school graduate, his father and grandfather came to thank me during a sparkling wine service in the lobby of the School of Economics building for the good teaching they had received. I was moved, shook their hands and congratulated the three generations of economists who had all earned their academic degree at the School of Economics. An academic tradition at its best!

Eero Kasanen
Rector (President) of Helsinki School of Economics 1996–2009 and Dean 2010


School of Business 110 years in 2021

The School of Business (today Aalto University School of Business) was founded in 1911, so in 2021 it celebrates its 110th anniversary.

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