Photo: Toms Norde.

The inauguration ceremony of Prof. Gundars Bērziņš, the newly elected rector of the university, took place on Wednesday, 29 May 2024, in the University of Latvia (UL) Aula Magna in the presence of more than 400 guests from Latvia and abroad. Professor Bērziņš took the solemn oath and received the rector’s chain of office.

“UL is the only higher education institution in the world that implements teaching of the entire spectrum of classical sciences and research in the Latvian language,” UL Professor Zanda Rubene, Chair of the UL Constitutional Assembly, recalled the words of the UL Constitution before bestowing the rector’s chain of office upon the rector. She emphasized that the university bearing the name of the state of Latvia holds the responsibility to think beyond the future of the university itself, considering the future of the entire state. “Today we aspire, today we believe and today we are convinced that we will succeed. Although today is but an instant, the future of the University of Latvia begins today,” Professor Zanda Rubene said in her address.

“I solemnly pledge to serve the University of Latvia, the academic community, employees and students in good faith. I promise to honour academic ethics and traditions, as well as to comply with the principles of good governance, to promote growth and prosperity of the University of Latvia. I promise to honourably serve the state of Latvia and its people, strengthen the spirit and wisdom of our nation, to preserve and nurture Latvian values and the Latvian language, to give my strengths and knowledge to the next generations and the future, to education, science and the fatherland,” – in these words, the Rector of the University of Latvia Gundars Bērziņš gave his oath upon his entry into the office.

Professor Mārcis Auziņš, Chair of the UL Council, continued the congratulations expressed to the Rector on his inauguration day. He emphasized the role of the university in the development of the country and called upon the rector and the University of Latvia community to always remain true to the mission and the awareness that successful development of the university is the basis for advancement of Latvia as a state. “This sense of mission remains with us daily, yet, in order to realize it, continuous development and change are necessary. Endless challenges are to be expected, and the new rector has already faced them and will continue to encounter them in the future, especially in reorganizing the current structure of the university, creating a six-faculty model Our strength is in diversity. I wish Gundars Bērziņš and the UL community to build the new future as a team. Then in our daily efforts all of us will be led by the force contained in our university’s slogan – Scientiae et Patriae, as well as the motto “University of Latvia forever”, – these were his words of greeting.

The Minister of Education and Science Anda Čakša wished the new rector a ‘productive and successful cadence”, emphasizing that UL as the leading university of the state with almost 100 000 graduates since Latvia’s entry into the European Union, must inspire students and researchers to the highest achievements, while the matters of economic development of Latvia should be raised at the forefront of the entire society’s agenda. “We rely on the expertise of the university as a centre of science in various fields. This works both practically, promoting the growth of Latvia’s national economy and being one of its guarantees, as well as having an impact on the development of society and the creation of values. I wish to the university, under the leadership of Rector Bērziņš, to achieve the intended goal and enter the ranks of the world’s 500 best higher education institutions. The University of Latvia deserves it! Moreover, as Latvia’s leading research university improves academically and reaches new heights of recognition, I believe that we will become wiser and more competitive as a society,” said the minister.

The solemn ceremony was concluded by the message of the theologian Juris Rubenis to the UL community and the people of Latvia – with a view to the future. The theologian encouraged to reflect upon the resonance of ancient traditions today and the lessons that they provide. “Steering a university is challenging,” he said. “Universities are conservative institutions, it is difficult to reform them. The skills of an augur – an ancient Roman priest – are needed here, such as courage, the ability to endure, the ability to see the situation from a bird’s eye view.” Rubenis pointed out that the roots of modern education are found in the ancient traditions of initiation, which refer to the expansion of consciousness, human life or experience, and the concept of boundaries, allowing the new to come in the place of the past. He wished the university to “become a place that not only teaches skills which are useful for the 21st century, but also inspires students to live in a world full of secrets, constantly exploring it, without losing the ability to wonder and having the skill to feel good in the constant changes”. “I wish to the rector that full auguration takes place in work and life – the ability to see, hear, and the courage to notice important harbingers of future developments!”, Juris Rubenis concluded.

An extensive group of invited guests had come to greet the rector of the University of Latvia – ministers of finance, interior, economy, environmental protection and regional development, representatives of other ministries, several representatives of the Latvian Parliament and MPs, a number of ambassadors, heads of Latvia’s largest companies, patrons of the university, representatives of non-governmental organizations and associations, former UL rectors, members of the UL Council, members of the UL Constitutional Assembly and the Senate, academics, teaching staff, students and other representatives of the UL community. Rectors, vice-rectors and further representatives of other Latvian and foreign universities also congratulated Gundars Bērziņš upon his entry into office.

The event was musically enriched by the performances of pianist Agnese Egliņa and UL choirs “Juventus” and “DeCoro”, as well as Jānis Aišpurs and the band “The Sound Poets”.

The University of Latvia thanks everyone for being together at the festive event!

Photos of the event can be viewed in the UL photo archive.