First, it is an honour to be speaking to you, and it is great to be starting here in Tartu with the best thing and greatest honour of the year - to be speaking to you as representative of the academic staff - on a beautiful day - setting records in temperature but hopefully also in joy, before the most important holiday in Estonia, Jaanipäev, or midsummer and to speak to you before the handover of your diploma. Today is a day of celebrations, in a special year, a year that was marked with interacting digitally. So, I am particularly happy that today - for once - I don’t have to speak out of Zoom to you.
Covid has been like a pressure cooker - made things possible that otherwise would have taken - both here and elsewhere - much longer under normal circumstances.
Dear graduates, families, friends, colleagues,
A graduation ceremony is also a process where you foster that special bond with your new alma mater, Universitas Tartuensis. In Austria, my country of origin, this graduation is called ‘Sponsion’ which stems from the Latin verb spondeo or ‘I promise’ - and thus it is closely linked to the tradition of promising to stay true to your alma mater and the academic virtues - to be guided by evidence, transparency and accountability.
Let me link this to the world of digital, where it is so easy to do things behind curtains, without proper accountability, and transparency, because one needs more understanding and guidance when looking at this. Covid also showed us how important it was to be prepared when digital turns from an opportunity to a necessity. Changing from teaching in a classroom to teaching in the zoom, from standing in front of your computer’s camera and fighting with your kids to stay out of the picture and let you teach. When you struggled, we struggled too - but with understanding, we mastered it together.
Covid showed that the academic family works - sometimes even too much when your students know your kids by name or tell you how much they have grown already. So this might come as a surprise to hear from a professor of e-governance – but we are lucky that this crisis allows us to hand over the diplomas - even if in special circumstances - non-digital and in person.
Dear graduates - this is your day. But before we get to the handover, let me remind you that this diploma comes with strings attached. It will make you an ambassador of your master programme, the Skytte Institute, the University of Tartu, the city of Tartu, and, essentially Estonia as a whole. And we are proud of you, and so we hope, you are too! So there is the special responsibility - because now you are in the know :-) So we will be happy to call upon you, when we need your practical advice, and your guidance, or your money (the university needs more money :-), because I was told today is a good day to say that because people actually listen).
Now it is time to shut up, and I wish you the best to celebrate, enjoy and party with your study colleagues, friends and family.
Robert Krimmer. Speech on graduation 22 June 2021
Video: UTTV 2021