University of Eastern Finland will confer 12 Honorary Doctorates in June

The University of Eastern Finland will hold a doctoral conferment ceremony at the Joensuu Campus on 6–8 June. The doctoral conferment ceremony is the third organised by the University of Eastern Finland, and the second taking place on the Joensuu Campus. The three faculties operating on the Joensuu Campus have selected 12 scientifically or socially distinguished persons upon whom an Honorary Doctorate will be conferred. An Honorary Doctorate is the highest distinction the university may confer upon a person.

Strong cultural representation

The Philosophical Faculty confers an Honorary Doctorate upon four people with a diverse sphere of influence. An Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy will be conferred upon Rock Musician Ismo Alanko, and upon Distinguished Professor Emeritus Steven Feld. An Honorary Doctorate in Theology will be conferred upon Emeritus Bishop Wille Riekkinen, and an Honorary Doctorate in Educational Sciences will be conferred upon Professor Shirley Simon.

Ismo Alanko is one the most prominent rock musicians and lyrics writers in Finland. As an artist born in Joensuu, Alanko has served as an ambassador for eastern Finland for four decades already, although his music and lyrics draw inspiration from the cultural heritage of the entire world. Alanko’s suggestive way to perform has often been linked to the long-standing shamanistic tradition, where magic and science become one. In addition to his solo career, Ismo Alanko has led many famous bands that have shaped the generational experience of a great number of people.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Music Steven Feld is one of the most well-renowned ethnomusicologists in the world, having discovered and greatly advanced the anthropology of sound.  During his career in the Universities of Columbia, Texas, New York, California and New Mexico, Professor Feld has authored several award-winning studies, with Sound and Sentiment often recognised as the most influential one. He has also produced several high-quality recordings that observe the aesthetic principles of the culture concerned. Professor Feld has collaborated with soundscape researchers at the University of Eastern Finland for some fifteen years.

Emeritus Bishop Wille Riekkinen has stayed in close contact with the University of Joensuu and the University of Eastern Finland throughout his career. From 1996 to 2012, Riekkinen served as the Bishop of the Kuopio Diocese. During this time, he promoted the expansion of academic education in theology, which culminated, perhaps most concretely, in the establishment of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Joensuu in 2002. In 2014–2017, Bishop Riekkinen served as a member of the University of Eastern Finland Board.

Professor Shirley Simon of the University College London Institute of Education is a renowned science education scholar. She has served as an editor for the international journal Research in Science and Technological Education and has contributed to science education through her research with organisations in the UK and internationally.  Over the past four years, the School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education at the University of Eastern Finland has collaborated with Professor Simon in a joint EU project, MultiCo. The objective of the project is to inspire young people to study STEM subjects and to promote their awareness of the range of careers that involve scientific skills.

Top names in natural sciences

The Faculty of Science and Forestry confers an Honorary Doctorate upon three influential scholars. An Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy will be conferred upon Professor Alain Tremeau and upon Professor Ülo Niinemets. An Honorary Doctorate in Forest Sciences will be conferred upon Rector Hubert Hasenauer.

Professor Alain Tremeau is Vice Rector for International Relations at Jean Monnet University in France. Professor Tremeau specialises in computer vision and image science. Over the past 10 years, he has served as the coordinator of two Erasmus Mundus Master's degree programme in which the University of Eastern Finland is a partner. Collaboration between Professor Tremeau and the University of Eastern Finland’s School of Computing and Computational Spectral Imaging at the Institute of Photonics has been ongoing since 2000. One of the culminations of this collaboration was the European Conference on Colour in Graphics, Imaging and Vision in Joensuu in 2010. The universities have also organised joint summer schools in computer vision and colour research in France and Finland. Professor Tremeau is very active in international networks, and an important collaborator for the University of Eastern Finland.

Professor Hubert Hasenauer is Rector of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, BOKU, in Vienna. For several years, Professor Hasenauer has been actively involved in the operations and promotion of the international Master's degree programmes offered jointly by the University of Eastern Finland, BOKU and other top-level universities. Moreover, he has taught silviculture at the University of Eastern Finland. Professor Hasenauer is a scholar who enjoys international recognition in the key fields of the School of Forest Sciences at the University of Eastern Finland, and he is also an expert whose opinion is repeatedly sought by such instances as the Academy of Finland. He is also one of the key figures in the newly-founded European Bioeconomy University, in which both UEF and BOKU are members. In the European Bioeconomy University alliance, Europe’s leading universities in the field of the bioeconomy are looking to further intensify their existing cooperation to develop common problem-solving approaches for society’s most urgent challenges.

Ülo Niinemets is Professor of Crop Science and Plant Biology at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. Professor Niinemets is one of the world’s most influential scientists in the field of plant ecology. He has collaborated with the University of Eastern Finland and the Finnish Forest Research Institute (nowadays known as the Natural Resources Institute Finland) in an Academy of Finland project studying the adaptation of birch species to global warming. Moreover, he has played an active role in studies addressing the birch genome, and he has co-authored several publications with Finnish researchers.  Professor Niinemets’ research focuses on forest trees and climate change, making his research profile an excellent fit with the areas of expertise of the University of Eastern Finland.

Societal impact

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies confers an Honorary Doctorate upon five scientifically and socially distinguished persons. An Honorary Doctorate in Business Studies will  be conferred upon kauppaneuvos Harri Broman, and an Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences upon Governor Erkki Liikanen. An Honorary Doctorate in Law will be conferred upon Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman Maija Sakslin, an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy upon Emeritus Professor Leo Suni, and an Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences upon Professor Beverley Skeggs.

Harri Broman has been the CEO of the Broman Group since 1995. He was awarded the Finnish honorary title of kauppaneuvos in 2012. Broman has engaged in long-term collaboration with the University of Eastern Finland, especially in the region of North Karelia. He has supported the university’s education and research in many different ways. Furthermore, he has made new openings that promote the involvement of the University of Eastern Finland in various societal networks.

Erkki Liikanen is a former EU Commissioner and Governor of the Bank of Finland. In addition, he has served as a Member of the Finnish Parliament, Minister of Finance, Ambassador of Finland to the EU, and Chair of the Finnish Red Cross. The conferment of the Honorary Doctorate upon Liikanen is a recognition of his extensive work promoting the well-being and economic development of Finland and Europe. His work to promote the development of eastern Finland has also been highly influential.

Maija Sakslin has served as Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman since 2010. In 2012–2015, she chaired the Management Board of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. In the early 1990s, she was the secretary of the fundamental rights committee, thus contributing to the drafting of the current statutes on fundamental rights in the Constitution of Finland. By conferring an Honorary Doctorate upon Sakslin, the University of Eastern Finland wishes to acknowledge the significance of the ombudsman institution for Finnish society, and to highlight the key role Sakslin plays in the legal field in Finland. Her research has addressed such topics as fundamental and human rights, as well as cross-border social security within the European Union.

Leo Suni is Emeritus Professor at Petrozavodsk State University. He was one of the first history scholars in the Soviet Union to focus on Finnish history, and he has led several joint research projects between Finnish and Russian historians. Professor Suni can also be credited for translating several works authored by Finnish scholars of history into Russian, thus significantly raising awareness of Finnish history research in Russia.  At his initiative, Petrozavodsk State University has a Master's degree programme in Finnish and Nordic history, and established a research institute focusing on the same theme.
Professor Beverley Skeggs is one of the most well-renowned sociologists and feminist theoreticians in the world. She has served as Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester and Goldsmiths College London. She is currently the Academic Director of the Atlantic Fellows programme at the London School of Economics (LSE), and works as a visiting professor at Goldsmiths University. Professor Skeggs has created a tradition of social class research that looks at social position and gender as a lived formation regulated by cultural and social relations of power. Many of her books and articles are recognised as classics in their field.

In addition to the Honorary Doctors selected by the faculties, persons who have completed their doctoral degree by 31 January 2019 in a subject represented at the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, or the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies may participate in the doctoral conferment ceremony to be held at the Joensuu Campus.

A doctoral conferment ceremony will be held at the Kuopio Campus on 4–6 June 2020.

Print-quality photos of the Honorary Doctors are available at:

For further information, please contact:
Doctoral Conferment Coordinator Kirsi Bykachev, kirsi.bykachev(at), tel. +358 50 363 4819