Five years of Tallinn University
Five years have passed since the Estonian Parliament enlisted Tallinn University into the Universities Act. Tomorrow, on 18 March, Tallinn University celebrates its birthday with a ceremony in which four new honorary doctors will be promoted, professors who have been elected during the year are presented, the more active researchers and students of 2009 are awarded, and the university members and supporters who have given remarkable input towards the development of the university are thanked. Also, Tõnis Lukas, the Minister of Education and Research and Alan Karis, the rector of Tartu University and chairman of the Rector’s Council will greet the university at the ceremony.
Several years of preparations preceded the establishment of Tallinn University. On 18 March 2005, the much sought after plan of establishing a Tallinn University reached its first tangible milestone: Tallinn University came into being, uniting the Tallinn Pedagogical University, the Institute of History and the Estonian Institute of Humanities.
Today Tallinn University consists of 18 institutes and 4 colleges where study and research are conducted in six fields of study (education, humanitarian subjects, arts, natural sciences, social sciences and health). 8500 students and 1100 employees belong to the university family. Additionally more than 12 000 people participate yearly in continuing education courses and open level studies.
Tallinn University Rector Rein Raud, “During our creation we were the third largest university in Estonia only by the number of students, but now we are third also by the total number of research publications which includes the overall number of all publication, as well as in international peer-reviewed publications. In the humanities and social sciences we have become one of the two leading centres in Estonia next to Tartu University, but we also have a reason to be pleased with the fact that in the fields of theoretical physics and ecology we have the most cited researchers.
But together with the growth in research, an equally great leap has taken place in studies – we can say without doubt that we have become the most student-friendly university in Estonia – on the one hand because our students have a considerably greater role in decision making at all levels than is customary in other universities, and on the other because our educational ideology is highly liberal in considering the interests and needs of all members of the university as individuals.
One of the ambitious objectives of Tallinn University is to become the most international public university in Estonia. We are vigorously moving towards this goal: the number of foreign students is increasing every year, but we are already the first in Estonia according to the number of foreign lecturers and research workers visiting the university. Naturally, the internationalization of the university is not only manifested in student exchanges and the involvement of foreign lecturers. The university as a whole has to be open to international flow of ideas and be capable of forwarding these to the society as a whole. We have tried to achieve that through different undertakings such as the international summer school Tallinn Summer School, which has brought hundreds of students and such top presenters as Peter Burke, Maurice Bloch, Agnes Heller, Edward Soja to Estonia. Most our top lectures have been made open to public also through our new virtual university; the video lectures and conversations are accessible to everyone for free. One can also find performances of other well-known persons there, because the university has hosted such individuals as Immanuel Wallerstein and Anthony Giddens, either alone or in cooperation with partners and we were especially delighted by the visit of Umberto Eco that was organised together with our Tartu colleagues.”
The ceremonial celebration of the university’s 5th anniversary takes place on Thursday, 18 March, starting at 12 o’clock in the university assembly hall (Narva mnt 25, III floor). The following people will speak at the ceremony: the rector of the university Professor Rein Raud, the Minister of Education and Research Tõnis Lukas, the rector of Tartu University and chairman of the Rector´s Council Alar Karis and the head of the Tallinn University Student Union Mailis Ostra.
Professors Jacques Cortès, Pentti Malaska, Hans-Peter Blossfeld and György Andras Schöpflin will be promoted as Tallinn University honorary doctors at the ceremony. Also Krista Kerge, Aili Vahtrapuu, Otto Jastrow, Aurika Meimre, Katrin Niglas, David Lamas, Margus Pensa and Aino Ugaste who have been elected as professors during the year will be presented.
Also, the employees and students who have stood out in state competitions in 2009 are to be thanked at the ceremony; awards shall be handed over to authors of notable research publications and creative projects, to the most active scientist and institute, and laureates of literary prizes. Rector Rein Raud will also hand out 28 Tallinn University medals.