Conferment committee
Faculty of Theology´s conferment committee 2023
Conferrer Martti Nissinen

ThD, docent Martti Nissinen (b. 1959) is Professor of Old Testament Studies. He was awarded a doctoral degree in 1992 by the University of Helsinki, where he acted as Assistant Professor (1985–1994), as Research Fellow of the Academy of Finland (1994–2002), and as Professor for Bible and the Ancient Near East (2002–2007) before his present position. Nissinen was the principal investigator of the Academy of Finland research project ‘Galilee in the Iron Age’ (2012–2016) and the director of the Centre of Excellence project ‘Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions’ (2014–2019). He was, moreover, the President of the Foundation for the Finnish Institute in the Middle East (2010–2021). Nissinen’s research interests include the prophetic phenomenon as well as gender (love poetry, masculinity, and homoeroticism) in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia.

Master of Ceremonies Tuomas Heikkilä

PhD, docent Tuomas Heikkilä (b. 1972) is Professor in Church History. He was awarded his doctoral degree (doctor primus) by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki in 2002. Throughout the period 1998–2009, Heikkilä worked at the Department of History as Assistant Professor, University Lecturer, and as Professor in General History. Before assuming his present position in 2019, Heikkilä was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Uppsala, Sweden, as well as Director of the Finnish scholarly institute in Rome (2013–2017). His research interests include medieval cults of saints, monasticism, textual scholarship, manuscript studies, and the development of multidisciplinary research methods. Heikkilä has been the principal investigator of research projects in his fields. In addition to scholarship, he has published a number of non-fiction books. His latest monograph is Lalli: Portrait of a National Murderer’ (Helsinki: Tammi 2022). 

Head Marshal Auli Vähäkangas

ThD, docent Auli Vähäkangas (b. 1967) is Professor in Pastoral Theology. She was awarded a doctoral degree in 2004 by the University of Helsinki. Vähäkangas has taught at Tumaini University, Tanzania (1998–2005) and at Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (2006–2009). She worked as university lecturer at the University of Helsinki (2009–2015). She has held full professorship since 2015. She was a vice dean of academic affairs (2013–2016) and presently serves as a vice dean of international affairs (2023–). Vähäkangas has studied childlessness, grief and death. She has led two large research projects: ‘Youth at the Margins. A comparative study of the contribution of faith-based organisations to social cohesion in South Africa and Nordic Europe (YOMA)’ (2013–2017) and ‘Meaningful relations: Patient and family carer encountering death at home’ (2017–2021).

Deputy Master of Ceremonies: Professor Henrietta Grönlund 

Deputy Head Marshal: Academy of Finland Research Fellow Ritva Palmén 

Other members of the committee:

Docent Outi Lehtipuu 

Docent Heikki Pesonen 

Conferment Secretary Kaisu Taskila