New academic year kicked off

Aalto Day One highlighted the community’s diversity and internationality
Akateeminen kulkue matkalla lukuvuoden avajaisseremoniaan. Edessä Ida Parkkinen ja Ilkka Niemelä
Academic procession on its way to the opening ceremony, in front Ida Parkkinen and Ilkka Niemelä.

Aalto University opened its 14th academic year on 5 September. The solemn opening ceremony began when President Ilkka Niemelä and the student union chair Ida Parkkinen led the academic procession to the U2 hall at the Undergraduate Centre.

Opening speeches highlighted diversity

The new Finnish government’s proposed changes to immigration policy and what they mean for Finland’s international community have caused tremendous concern among Aaltonians. In his opening speech, President Ilkka Niemelä said: ‘Today, as the Finnish parliament opens and parliamentary debate begins, we are issuing a public statement. In it, we urge Finnish decision-makers to take a stand for an international Finland, one that fosters diversity and recognises the value that it brings’. Links to Niemelä’s speech and to the statement are below.

The Chair of the Board of the Aalto University Student Union (AYY) Ida Parkkinen talked aboutstudents’ lives, the paths they take, and the importance of diversity: ‘Diversity of the Aalto community is a strength and an important value for our community. We must ensure that everyone feels welcome and included from the very first day of the academic year.’  A link to Parkkinen’s speech is below.

Sari Multala, Minister of Science and Culture and Aalto University graduate, addressed participants at the opening ceremony via video on behalf of the Finnish Government. ‘I want to welcome international talents and their families to Finnish universities at every stage of their studies, careers and lives,’ Multala said. A link to the minister’s speech below.

Riitta Salmelin appointed Aalto Distinguished Professor

Professor Riitta Salmelin from the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering at the School of Science was appointed Aalto Distinguished Professor at the opening ceremony. The title is awarded to professors of exceptional academic merit. Professor Salmelin gave the Aalto Talk at the opening ceremony.

Professor Riitta Salmelin's research area is systemic and cognitive neuroscience. She has worked at the forefront of ​​non-invasive brain imaging and is an expert in the MEG imaging method developed in Finland. Salmelin has applied brain imaging to the study of language function as a part of human cognition and has also used her research results to further develop imaging methods. Her research area is fundamentally multidisciplinary and therefore requires a broad understanding and the ability to navigate between concepts and methods from different disciplines.

Professor Salmelin is a nationally and internationally recognised pioneering researcher. According to the Web of Science database, she has 170 publications, which have been cited 11 295 times. She is also a distinguished educator and has supervised 13 doctoral theses and 18 master’s theses. Professor Salmelin has been awarded several times for her research achievements. You can read an interview with Riitta Salmelin below.

Awards to community members

At the opening ceremony, five awards were granted to community members. The Aalto Act of the year is the successful result in the quality system audit by Fineec, the Finnish Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. Aalto University received a rating of ‘excellent’ in all evaluation areas. Read more viat the link below.

The Aalto Day One continued with a free-form Aalto Party outdoor event in Alvar Aalto park jointly organised by the students and the university. Its culmination was a playful tug-of-war between the Student Union’s and university’s management.

Photos: Aalto University / Mikko Raskinen.

Other Aalto Day One news

Ilkka Niemelä to the Finnish Government: Innovations and sustainable growth will be lost if immigration policies are implemented

New Aalto Distinguished Professor Riitta Salmelin traces the brain’s own ‘fingerprint’

Aalto community members awarded for their impressive work


  • Ilkka Niemelä, Ida Parkkinen and Sari Multala as text
  • Ilkka Niemelä as video
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