Last week I received an invitation to attend on Friday, 31st of August 2012 the inauguration of Professor Volli Kalmu as the new President of Tartu University (Rector magnificus). Each president of the University serves a five-year term. It is a formal event that is attended by the President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the Prime Minister Andres Ansip, and the University Board of Trustees, and the Faculty Senate. The inauguration was at the Assembly Hall (see photo
in previous blog) that I was shown from upstairs when I first arrived at Tartu. The event began with the singing of the national anthem, followed by introductions, and a speech by the outgoing President Alar Karise. Tartu University’s (TÜ’s)Women’s Choir sang a beautiful song by Piret Rips “Laula elu ilusaks” (translated “Sing to make life beautiful”). The words “laula elu ilusaks” used repetitively in the song are very melodious and flowing.
Next the President of Estonia Ilves spoke about the importance of Tartu University as a long-standing institution for this small country. Volli Karmu was sworn in with a silver necklace of medallions placed upon his shoulders. Professor Karmu gave an acceptance speech with his vision for the University at a time Estonia is in the midst of reforming its whole educational system. The Women’s Choir sang another song “Nocturne”. The formal part of the inauguration was followed by greetings from the Minister of Education Jaak Aaviksoo who also was a former President of TÜ, the President of Tallinn’s Technical University Professor Andres Keevallik, and the President of the Student Union of TÜ Erik Raudsepp. One might wonder whether this young student with most likely leadership skills will in the future stand in the same Assembly Hall to become the next Rector magnificus? At the very end, everybody stood to sing Gaudeamus Igitur, the academic anthem. Since Tartu is very much a
University town, I read in a book that I picked up at the University Bookstore on student life in the
1802-1917 period, that the words of Gaudeamus were already used in the 13th century in Germany with the melody added in the early part of the 1800s. Not knowing Latin, I was intrigued to know what the words meant and looked it up on the internet. In case you are interested, the first stanza begins with:
Gaudeamus igitur, (Let us therefore rejoice), Juvenes dum sumus; (While we are young); Post icundum iuventutem, (After our youth), Post molestam senectutem (After a troublesome old age), Nos habebit humus. (The ground will hold us).
After the last notes were sung, we were all invited outdoors to the inner courtyard for refreshments and champagne to toast the new President and to meet him. A chamber music group added to the festivities. We had a chance to mingle, met many new people and faculty members. Juri and I felt privileged to attend this academic tradition and enjoyed the solemnity and formality of the inauguration of the new TÜ President.