The Conferment Ceremonies emphasise the high value of education. Those who have completed their doctoral degree receive the insignia associated with the doctoral status - the hat, the sword and the diploma - in the degree ceremony. In Finnish, the ceremonies are called ‘promootio’. It comes from the Latin word ‘promovere’: to move forwards, to advance, to promote. The insignia are also bestowed upon distinguished individuals who are designated as Honorary Doctors.
The tradition of the conferment ceremony comes from the early Middle Ages. Conferment ceremonies have been arranged in Finland for more than 350 years; the tradition has continued uninterrupted since the first conferment ceremony was organized in the Academy of Turku in 1643. Traditions have significant role in the conferment ceremony, and many of the forms of the ceremonies have remained unchanged. Yet the ceremony is not set in stone; it changes through time and with its organising university, making it a unique event each time.
The hat was a symbol of a free and independent man already in ancient Rome. In universities the doctoral hat is a symbol of freedom of research. The Finnish doctoral hat looks like a top hat. The colour of the hat indicates the field of science; violet: theology, burgundy: law, green: medicine, tricolour blue: arts, and dark blue: physical education. All other fields of science, and all the fields of science at the University of Vaasa, have black hats.
The hats are hand-made according to individual measurements. The golden emblem attached to the velvet band of the hat also indicates the university or the field of science. University of Vaasa has its own emblem for the whole university. The emblem is designed by Juhani Vepsäläinen.
The doctoral sword is a symbolic weapon of the spirit in search for and in defense of truth. The sword used at the ceremonies is Finland's official civilian sword. It comes with a scabbard and a black or golden holder. The university's golden symbol will also be on the sword. The person's name and the date of the Conferment Ceremony are etched on the sword. The sword is traditionally carried on the left side.
Conferments of Doctoral Degrees at the University of Vaasa
The first Conferment Ceremony was held in Vaasa School of Economics in 1988. The second ceremony was held at the University of Vaasa in 1998. Both ceremonies conferred both Doctor’s and Master’s degrees.
In the third and fourth ceremony in 2006 and 2011, only Doctoral degrees were conferred.