Uniarts Helsinki confers honorary doctorates on President of the Republic of Finland Alexander Stubb, Susanna Mälkki, Hilja Grönfors, Hanna Helavuori and four other influential figures in the arts

Uniarts Helsinki’s second historical conferment event invites the public to a Celebration of the Arts at the Helsinki Music Centre and a procession in downtown Helsinki.

Procession at the Uniarts Helsinki conferment ceremony in 2018

The university’s conferment event, the ceremonial conclusion of university studies, will be held in Helsinki from 16 to 18 August 2024. The ceremony will feature the conferment of degrees on master’s graduates and doctors from the university’s academies. Additionally, honorary doctorates will be conferred on eight individuals who represent Finnish or international pioneers and influential figures in their fields and who have advocated for arts education or advanced the societal role and significance of the arts.

Being conferred an honorary doctorate is the highest recognition bestowed by the university. The recipients of honorary doctorates include President of the Republic of Finland Alexander Stubb, conductor Susanna Mälkki, performer and collector of traditional Romani songs Hilja Grönfors, theatre influencer Hanna Helavuori and four other influential figures in the arts sector.

President of the Republic of Finland Alexander Stubb has highlighted the importance of art and culture as a mental resource, as part of the national security of supply. Through his actions and choices, Alexander Stubb has lived out Uniarts Helsinki’s values – skill, courage and openness.

Susanna Mälkki is an internationally acclaimed conductor who has pioneered groundbreaking work in numerous prestigious symphony orchestras and opera houses worldwide, particularly advocating for new music. Mälkki has received widespread recognition for her bold and innovative artistic vision, which elevates orchestras to exceptional performances.

Hilja Grönfors is a performer of traditional Romani songs and a collector and preserver of Romani singing traditions. In 2014, Grönfors was awarded the Finland Prize for her work in preserving Romani cultural heritage.

Hanna Helavuori is a respected figure in the Finnish theatre and performing arts community, known as an active writer, critic and contributor in the field. She is recognised for her innovative leadership at the Theatre Museum and Theatre Info Finland, as well as for her inspiring teaching at Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy and in Tampere University’s acting programme.

Heikki Lehtonen is a respected CEO and a board professional for several significant Finnish companies and foundations. His former chairmanship of Uniarts Helsinki’s board and his current role as the chair of the board of the university’s foundation have been pivotal in advancing the university’s fundraising and operational capabilities.

An honorary doctorate will also be conferred on Lia Rodrigues, a Brazilian dancer, choreographer and teacher working in Rio de Janeiro’s Maré favela, recognised as an advocate for democratising and increasing access to art. Berlin-based filmmaker, moving image artist, writer, and researcher Hito Steyerl and British artist Tacita Dean, who works with various media, are also among the selected honorary doctors.

“The conferment ceremony is our community’s grandest celebration, linking us strongly to the university institution’s centuries-old tradition. In the festivities, we celebrate the importance of education, research and art in society,” says Rector of Uniarts Helsinki Kaarlo Hildén.

Invitation to the procession and the Celebration of the Arts event

The conferment weekend kicks off with an open, multi-artistic Celebration of the Arts event at the Helsinki Music Centre on Friday, 16 August 2024 at 18:00. The event will feature art from all three academies: the Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy and Theatre Academy.

On Saturday, 17 August 2024, the public is invited to follow Uniarts Helsinki’s master’s graduates, doctors, and honorary doctors as they parade through the heart of Helsinki, one of the most spectacular moments of the festivities. The procession will start from the Helsinki Music Centre at 14:00, with various artistic performances taking place along the way. The grand procession will culminate in the Ecumenical Jubilee at the Temppeliaukio Church and in the Secular Jubilee at Kulttuurikasarmi at 14:30.

Uniarts Helsinki conferment ceremony

Uniarts Helsinki’s conferment festivities for masters and doctors will be held from 16 to 18 August 2024. The three-day event celebrates master’s graduates, doctors and honorary doctors. Graduates who are being conferred their degrees celebrate the conclusion of their studies and the beginning of a new life after graduation.

The tradition originated in the medieval times when universities wanted to celebrate the conferment of academic degrees. Conferment ceremonies have been held in Finland since 1643. Originally, conferment was a ceremony marking the end of studies, where bachelor’s and master’s degrees were conferred on graduates who had completed their studies.

Today, it is no longer a graduation ceremony but rather an academic celebration. Uniarts Helsinki’s first master’s and doctoral conferment ceremony was held in 2018. Master’s and doctoral conferment ceremonies have been held at the Sibelius Academy in 1997, 2003 and 2012, and at the Academy of Fine Arts in 2006. The Theatre Academy held its first doctoral conferment ceremony in 2009.