VMU Marked 90th Anniversary With Festivities and Awards for Community
On Tuesday, February 14, Vytautas Magnus University held festive events dedicated to its 90th anniversary and the Lithuanian Independence Restoration Day.
The anniversary was marked with due celebration and unity – first by unveiling the commemorative stele for the Independence Act signatory Jonas Smilgevičius, and later in a celebratory meeting of the university’s Senate, where the regalia of VMU Honorary Professor and Honorary Doctor were awarded to, respectively, Prof. Viktorija Skrupskelytė from the VMU Dept. of French and German Philology and Prof. Rein Raud of Tallinn University.
Extending his warmest greetings to the university and its community on the occasion, VMU Rector Prof. Zigmas Lydeka remembered the crucial educational role of the University of Lithuania (precursor of VMU) during the interwar. It was founded in 1922 and was the only higher education institution in the country at the time. “Born at the dawn of independence, the University of Lithuania served the country’s science and culture, provided a young person with not just knowledge but the great spiritual values as well, and formed his worldview. Openness to the world here has always been in harmony with the meaningful goal of learning about the Baltic roots of our own identity. At the time, VMU was indeed the symbol of Lithuanian modernity. Individual talents are still nurtured at the university today, allowing the unique human qualities of openness, communication and thirst for knowledge to reveal themselves. This is a favourable environment for the search of identity, self-localisation, and new ideas”, VMU Rector retraced the university’s first steps and related them to its present activities.
The festive program marking the 90th anniversary of VMU on February 14 began at the VMU Faculty of Economics and Management (S. Daukanto Str. 28, 4th floor), where the commemorative stele for Independence Act signatory Jonas Smilgevičius, prominent public figure of the interwar, was be unveiled.
The program continued at the VMU Aula Magna (Gimnazijos Str. 7), with the commencement of the celebratory meeting of VMU Senate. Following tradition, VMU community shared warm thoughts about the university, listened to performances by the Music Academy’s students, and handed out awards to the most commendable individuals, including students.
In the beginning of the meeting, VMU Professor Viktorija Skrupskelytė, whose research priorities include 19-20th century French poetry and poetry of the Lithuanian Diaspora, received the regalia of VMU Honorary Professor. The honourable scientist, who contributed to the re-establishment of VMU in 1989, gave a speech to the audience. Soon afterwards, Prof. Rein Raud from Tallinn University was awarded the VMU Honorary Doctor’s regalia. The Estonian scholar will also deliver a speech.
Celebration continued with the awarding of scholarships: university students received VMU Honorary Scholarships for their good grades, initiatives and activities in the academic life, while the most diligent students of the Faculty of Economics and Management were awarded Independence Act signatory Jonas Smilgevičius’ scholarships.
The University of Lithuania (named after Vytautas Magnus in 1930) was founded by the intellectuals of Kaunas on 16 February 1922. During the interwar this was the place where future projects were conceived and the most prominent scientific and cultural unions of the first independent period were founded. Famous scholars, philosophers, highest-ranking state officials and public figures taught here. It was a liberal, modern university unique in its free, communal spirit, and close student-teacher relations.
The Soviets closed the university down in 1950, but its traditions and intellectual thought were kept alive by Lithuanian emigrants. The re-establishment of VMU in 1989 became a clear sign of independence which the nation had already been fighting for at the time. Since the university was re-opened thanks to the efforts of the Lithuanian Diaspora, there is no question as to the fact that VMU had officially institutionalized the historical role of the Diaspora in the 20th century by building high-quality Lithuanian culture, political thought and humanist spirit as an alternative to what the Soviet regime and its scientific or cultural institutions were trying to create.
Today Vytautas Magnus University is a lab of modern life and creativity where projects are tested, ideas get born and new ideological unions are formed. Since the very first days of its re-establishment, VMU has never been focused only on narrow, specialized studies or restricted to bare facts and knowledge. Its goal is to encourage students to make an empathic connection with the environment, get to know the feelings and experiences of others, recognise the significance of culture and values – this is achieved by studying direct sources of science, philosophy, literature, etc. The result is personalities who are open to the world and craving for knowledge, and communities which interpret, re-think and build their own experiences.
More information about the 90th anniversary of the University of Lithuania is available here.