VMU Celebrated 91st Birthday


On Thursday 14 February, Vytautas Magnus University held festive events dedicated to the 91st anniversary of its founding. The central event this year was the VMU Honorary Doctorate award ceremony, which honoured the accomplishments of four distinguished scholars: Marek Chmielewski, Pierre Semal, Violeta Kelertienė and Edmundas Rimša.

The programme began at the Faculty of Catholic Theology, where a special lecture room named after Signatory of Lithuania’s Act of Independence Pranas Dovydaitis was opened. Professor Pranas Dovydaitis was a well-known public figure of the interwar period who also read lectures at the University of Lithuania, headed its Dept. of Religion History, served as Senate Secretary, etc.

Celebration continued at VMU Aula Magna with the awards of VMU doctoral diplomas and insignia, VMU Honorary Scholarships, and Independence Act Signatory Jonas Smilgevičius’ Scholarships. Young researchers and administrative staff were also be honoured for their accomplishments. VMU Music Academy students gave a special performance for the guests.

The most important anniversary event took place at the Aula Magna later that day, when four VMU Honorary Doctors received the honorary regalia: Habil. Dr. Marek Chmielewski (Catholic University of Lublin, Poland), Prof. Dr. Violeta Kelertienė (Lithuania), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Edmundas Rimša (Lithuania) and Prof. Pierre Semal (Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium).

The ceremony was attended by Vytautas Magnus University Rector, members of VMU Council and Senate, honourable guests, members of the academic community, etc.

About VMU Honorary Doctorate Recipients

Can. Prof. Habil. Dr. Marek Chmielewski is a professor of Theology of Spirituality in the Catholic University of John Paul II (Lublin, Poland). He has been teaching at the University of John Paul II since 1988. He successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled “The Mystical Experience of Mother Marcelina Darowska (1827-1911)” in 1990 and habilitation dissertation on methodological problems of post-conciliar theology of Catholic spirituality in 2000. From 2000 until 2006, Prof. Chmielewski headed the Institute of Spiritual Theology at the Catholic University of John Paul II.  In 2001, Prof. Chmielewski was awarded the Silver Cross of Merit, a Polish civilian award.

Prof. Dr. Violeta Kelertienė is a Lithuanian diaspora scientist, researcher of Lithuanian literature who has been collaborating with the Baltic country’s education institutions since the very beginning of her academic career. During her visits in Lithuania, the professor reads lectures at VMU and other universities. Prof. Kelertienė has been working at the Dept. of Lithuanian Studies in the University of Illinois since 1984, serving as its head in 1993-2008. The professor is a member of numerous Lithuanian scientific and cultural editorial boards. She is also actively involved in the activities of the World Lithuanian Studies Association. Prof. Kelertienė was among the first to start applying post-colonialist theory in her work.

Assoc. Prof. Edmundas Antanas Rimša is internationally renowned historian and specialist of heraldics and genealogy. He contributed strongly to the development of VMU symbolics, published the Kaunas History Chronicle and shared invaluable experience with university students. He defended his doctoral dissertation on coats of arms in the history of Lithuanian private cities (Vilnius University, 1993), worked in the VU Dept. of History of Grand Lithuanian Duchy, and taught at VMU from 1995 and 1998. Assoc. Prof. Rimša still keeps close contact with VMU History Dept., joining doctoral dissertation defence boards, BA and MA thesis commissions, etc. He also contributed to the establishment of auxiliary sciences of history in Lithuania. He was awarded the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas in 1998 and the Order of Merits of Lithuania (2009).

Prof. Pierre Semal is a professor in Operation Management and Supply Chain at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium). He is a co-founder and co-director of the Centre of Supply Chain Management at the Catholic University of Louvain. Prof. Semal has accumulated many years of experience in executive work: at Louvain School of Management, he has served as the Dean (1999-2005), Director of International Relations (2005-2008), Executive Director (2008-2009), etc. He was instrumental in the founding and development of Baltic Management Institute (BMI), which had a lot of influence in strengthening its partner Vytautas Magnus University’s relations with key European universities.

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