TALLINN - Doctoral degrees will be conferred on 138 people and honorary doctorates on four people at a festive meeting marking the centennial of Estonian-language university at the University of Tartu on Sunday.
Also to be presented are the university's Award for Contribution to Estonian National Identity and a scholarship for a visiting professor from the Estonian diaspora.
Rector of the University of Tartu Toomas Asser in his remarks released on the eve of the anniversary described the opening of an Estonian-language university a mere one hundred years after the abolition of serfdom as an unforeseen achievement for our small nation.
"That, one hundred years on, Estonian-language universitas not only continues to exist but ranks among the best in the world demonstrates the belief of Estonians in education and science. But it is not by far an arrival that we are celebrating now, as now the university has to be a sensible and responsible guide in coping with the problems that affect Estonia and the whole world," Asser said.
Following a host of public events on Saturday, the official anniversary of the national university, Dec. 1, will be celebrated in a quieter format with a church service at St. John's Church in Tartu starting at 10 a.m. that will include the consecration of the university's new Estonian flag given as a gift by the Estonian Flag Society.
The festive meeting in the university's assembly hall starting at noon, which will include the formal anniversary lecture and the conferment of honorary doctorates and PhD degrees, presentation of the university's award for contribution to Estonian national identity and presentation of the scholarship for a visiting professor from the Estonian diaspora, will be followed by the rector's reception in the university museum on Toome Hill.
As an homage to the opening meeting of the Estonian-language university held one hundred years ago, a poem created for the 1919 occasion by Estonian poet Gustav Suits will be recited before the audience at the festive meeting in the university's assembly hall. The placement of chairs in the hall will be the same as during the opening meeting of the Estonian-language university one hundred years ago.
The University of Tartu of the Republic of Estonia was born together with the Estonian state. After the end of World War I, German army handed over the university to Peeter Pold, representative of the government of Estonia. Estonian language was declared the official language of the university, and following a period of preparation 351 students, including 305 Estonians, started their studies at the university on Oct. 6, 1919.
At present, the university's student corps numbers about 13,400 and includes 1,660 international students.