Honorary Degree Recipient
Doctor of Laws
College of Liberal Arts, September 23, 2017
Sauli Väinämö Niinistö, president of Finland, is credited with promoting Finland’s core values of democracy, equality, public education, human rights, and the rule of law. He is a leader of a republic that contributes significantly to the world, the State of Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota. His public service began on the city council of his birthplace, Salo, Finland. He went on to serve as a member of Parliament, where he made his first connection with Minnesota. In 1992, Niinistö visited Saint Anthony Village, Minnesota, the sister city of Salo, to promote the importance of people-to-people partnerships and support local vitality as a cornerstone of national and global wellbeing. Minnesota was the first home of the Modern Finnish Immigration in North America. The Twin Cities metro region and Duluth have the nation’s largest and third largest urban Finnish-American communities respectively. There are numerous academic ties between Finland and the University of Minnesota, including the establishment of the Chair of Visiting Professorship of Finnish Studies in the College of Liberal Arts; the Swan Cutler Finnish Music Performance Fund in the School of Music; many scholarly study and research collaborations; and the FinnFest Scholarship Program at the University of Minnesota Duluth for students of Finnish background, to name just a few. He is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees from his homeland and beyond. However, this would be his first American honorary degree. Finland will celebrate its 100th anniversary of democracy in 2017 and to honor President Niinistö and Finland, the Minnesota Orchestra is partnering with FinnFest USA to host the president to create America’s national commemoration of this anniversary.
Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.