Wilhelmsson: The role of the university as the critical conscience of society is emphasised

The anniversary of the University of Helsinki was celebrated last week. The University rewarded distinguished teachers and researchers, as well as awarded grants and scholarships from the donation funds of the University of Helsinki Funds.

Chancellor Niiniluoto with guests

“Social transition requires the strong voice of the university, speaking on behalf of human values. The traditional role of the civilised university as the critical conscience of society is emphasised,” says Rector Thomas Wilhelmsson in his speech.

“The primary role of the university is to work for society, and not because this is dictated by legislation. It is also self-evident for us that the social impact means much more than merely contributing to the establishment of innovation chains.”

Wilhelmsson finds it a good thing that people at the university are interested in the future of their university, and are now more actively engaged in the discussion about the legislative reforms.

According to the tradition, distinguished teachers and researchers received awards during the anniversary celebration of the university.

This year, the J.V. Snellman Award for achievements in promoting public understanding of science was given to the Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki. The justifications stated that the museum sets an excellent example in carrying out the university's mission of distributing scientific information to the public.

Juhani Lokki, Museum Director, says in his speech that the updated exhibitions are the result of determined efforts, which are combined with a suitable dose of creative madness.

“It has been possible to create them so that when visitors look at the exhibitions, they learn to understand nature and its laws in an almost unnoticed way.”

Since its renovation, the completely updated museum has already attracted 240,000 visitors, which makes it the third most popular museum in Finland.

From the donation funds of its Funds, the University also distributed a total of EUR 486,400 in grants and scholarships for 223 students and researchers, and a total of EUR 732,000 in scholarships from the University’s Research Foundation to 40 young researchers.

Text: Sanna Agullana
Photo: Wilma Hurskainen

Translation: AAC Noodi Oy

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