At the conferment ceremony in August, the University of Tampere will award fifteen honorary doctorates to, among others, a Nobel Laureate, an actor and the CEO of a mobile game development company
Text: Heikki Laurinolli
In August, Federica Mogherini, head of the EU’s foreign affairs, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Tampere. The honorary doctors also include Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka, actor Eila Roine and Ilkka Paananen, the CEO of Supercell, the mobile game development company.
Jean Monnet Professor Pami Aalto, an expert on EU integration, says that Mogherini is well suited to the profile of the University of Tampere, and the award is an indication that the University aims to be more than a regional player – it has global ambitions.
According to Aalto, inviting Mogherini may also be related to the role of Finland as a superpower in peace mediation and the University of Tampere as the most significant place in the country for research and teaching in this field.
has a busy schedule
Mogherini, an Italian, has been a key player in international conflict management and diplomacy since 2014, when she became High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. She also serves as Vice-President of the EU Commission.
Professor Hanna Ojanen suggested inviting Mogherini as an honorary doctor. Professor Hiski Haukkala, who serves as Head of Cabinet and Secretary General of the Office of the President of Finland until the end of May, will host Mogherini during her visit to Tampere. Haukkala has already met Mogherini personally.
The invitation was extended via the University of Tampere’s School of Management and Mogherini’s team at the Commission. According to Aalto, an affirmative answer was received, but it was simultaneously questioned whether Mogherini would be able to commit to being present in Tampere in August.
“She is doing a job where one must get going when things are happening, and that’s why it took her some time contemplate her answer,” Aalto says.
The honorary doctors are expected to be present at the conferment ceremony, but in Mogherini’s case, the University accepted the risk that a cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances may happen with such a high ranking person.
in high regard
Mogherini has been in charge of the EU’s foreign and security policy at a time characterised by the crises in Crimea and Ukraine, Brexit, the refugee crisis, the war in Syria, and the election of Trump as the President of the United States. Times could hardly be tougher.
According to Aalto, people do not complain about Mogherini.
“There are many Commissioners and other officials who are spoken ill of behind their backs or even openly, but that is not the case with Mogherini. She is a respected Commissioner in the EU organisation,” Aalto points out.
According to Aalto, the appreciation of Mogherini's work is shown in the way she has succeeded in her double role, which also includes the post of Vice-President of the Commission in addition to her external affairs post.
“She has been able to combine those roles reasonably well and to bring the desired coherence to the EU's external relations, which used to be more dependent on intergovernmental co-operation. Mogherini has succeeded so well that the member states do not want to step on her toes,” Aalto adds.
In foreign policy, the European Union does not have similar means at its disposal as it has in trade policy, for example.
“However, Mogherini has been able to maximise her role within this framework well and gradually advance the development of foreign policy into a normal part of the EU’s actions, which all Member States also take into account. Partners and opposite parties in neighbouring regions are now approaching the High Representative instead of lobbying the Member States separately,” Aalto says.
A Nobel Laureate, an actor,
and a game company’s CEO
The honorary doctors invited by the University of Tampere represent a broad range of sectors. They include a Nobel Prize winner, an actor and the CEO of a mobile game development company.
The Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences proposed Professor Shinya Yamanaka, a Japanese Nobel Laureate, for an honorary doctorate. He is known for his studies on induced pluripotent stem cells.
“He is a wonderful person. Even though he has received all imaginable prizes in the world, he remains the same pleasant person,” said Professor Katriina Aalto-Setälä in an interview with Aikalainen magazine in 2014, when Yamanaka visited Tampere.
The Faculty of Communication Sciences proposed the actor and theatre counsellor Eila Roine for an honorary doctorate. Roine did her life’s work at the TTT Theatre in Tampere, but is a household name in Finland for her roles in the television series Heikki ja Kaija, Rintamäkeläiset and Kotikatu. Between 1996 and 2013, she also presented the children's television programme Pikku Kakkonen in the role of Granny Eila.
The Faculty of Communication Sciences proposed Ilkka Paananen, CEO of the mobile game company Supercell, for an honorary doctorate. Paananen is known as a “happy taxpayer”; he has said that his company pays taxes to Finland without any form of tax planning.
“We have received so much help from society that it is now our turn to give back to the community,” Paananen said in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat newspaper in 2013.
Further information on all the honorary doctors is available in Finnish: http://www.uta.fi/ajankohtaista/uutinen/tieteen-taiteen-ja-yhteiskuntaelaman-huippuja-tampereen-yliopiston