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GSD Celebrates Finland’s 100th Anniversary; UMN Presents Finnish President Sauli Niinistö with Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree

December 8, 2017

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at the ceremony speaking to the crowd

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at the ceremony speaking to the crowd
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at the ceremony honoring him with an honorary doctorate of laws degree

December 6, 2017 marked the hundredth anniversary of Finland becoming an independent nation-state, and UMN’s Department of German, Scandinavian & Dutch played a special role in commemorating that milestone and honoring Minnesota’s Finnish connections.

Senior lecturer Daniel Karvonen, who coordinates UMN’s Finnish program, taught a crash course on the Finnish language at FinnFest, Minneapolis’ annual celebration of Finnish culture. The class gave festival visitors from across the US their first taste of speaking Finnish. They walked away with some useful phrases and some foundational principles about how the language works.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö attended FinnFest, and he had a special reason for being there: The University of Minnesota presented him with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree that was awarded by the College of Liberal Arts. The Department of German, Scandinavian & Dutch nominated President Niinistö for this honor in recognition of his distinguished international public service and Minnesota’s close relationship with Finland.

“As Finland celebrates its centenary, I am proud to award President Niinistö with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of Minnesota,” said President Eric Kaler. “The degree recognizes not only President Niinistö’s esteemed career, but also the deep connections the University of Minnesota and the State of Minnesota have with Finland and the Finnish people.”

Over 300 people witnessed the ceremony in Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. President Niinistö thanked the University of Minnesota for the degree and advocated for active citizenship and equality in the world’s current political landscape.

The University of Minnesota and Department of German, Scandinavian & Dutch send their thanks to everyone who helped to make the festival a success, and to President Niinistö for traveling to Minnesota to share his insight on international public service and policy.