Inauguration of new professors and conferment of doctoral degrees
Among the common academic traditions at universities and higher education institutions in Sweden, the most important are the professorial installation and doctoral conferment, both dating from the Middle Ages.
The Inauguration and Conferment
The doctoral conferment
The doctoral conferment is the most important and traditionalized of the academic ceremonies. It has its roots in the European Middle Ages and its universities and is a degree promotion, the ritual transition in a person's life from one stage to another and originally a proof of professionalism. The word "promote" (as used in the Swedish word Doktorspromotion) comes from the Latin promovere and means to move forward. Only those who have completed a doctoral degree can be conferred.
The doctoral conferment is linked to the individual faculties with a conferrer, appointed by the faculty, conferring the doctors.
The inauguration of new professors
The professorial installation is the occasion when the new professors are welcomed to the university and their different subject areas are brought to attention. The term "installation" (which is used in the Swedish Professorsinstallation) comes from the church ritual when a cathedral chapter member was brought into the choir and allowed to take his place in a choir chair, in Latin stallum.
Unlike the doctoral conferment, it is a ritual that is common to all faculties at the University with the University's President installing the newly appointed professors.
During a solemn combined installation and conferment ceremony in Stockholm City Hall, the doctors who have recently completed their doctoral studies and defended a doctoral dissertation will be conferred their doctoral degree. Honorary doctors and jubilee doctors are also conferred on this occasion. The professorial installation is the part of the ceremony where the professors who took up their positions during the previous year are welcomed into office.
Massed standards begins
The ceremony in the Stockholm City Hall begins with massed standards – the Swedish flag, the Stockholm University standard and different student associations' standards and flags – carried by students.
The President speaks, inaugurates professors and awards prizes
The President's welcoming speech is followed by the awarding of the university gold medals and awards for good teaching. The ceremony is then continued with the inauguration of new professors. While the conferment is related to the individual faculties, with a particular conferrer appointed by the faculty, the inauguration is an activity common to the entire university. Hence it is the President who installs the newly appointed professors in office.
The inaugural lecture
The use of an inaugural lecture in the academic ceremony probably comes from the turn of the twentieth century. The idea was that the ceremony should have some elements of instruction.
The conferment of new doctors
The conferment of new doctors follows the inauguration. The main idea is that the new doctor, promovendi, should go up one side of the stairs and then down the other side. This symbolizes a transition from one stage of the educational career to the next. The conferrer (who provides the promovendi with their credentials through the insignia, also a doctor and appointed by the faculty) and the promovendi meet on the rostrum, and various insignia are handed over. This is repeated for honorary doctors, jubilee doctors and new doctors four times, one for each faculty. The conferrer decides whether (s)he wants to confer the degrees in Latin or Swedish.
Massed standards ends the ceremony
When the massed standard has strided out of the Blue hall the ceremony has come to an end.
Doctoral hats and other insignia
During the conferment ceremony the conferrer presents different insignia, the symbols of the newly aquired dignity of the conferred.
The doctoral hat symbolizes freedom and power. The hat is awarded to new doctors and honorary doctors at the Faculty of Law. It is black and pleated and has a gold buckle at the front which represents the faculty. Doctors of Philosophy may themselves acquire the hat after the ceremony to wear at later occasions.
The laurel wreath is also a symbol of academic freedom, and in the ancient world a symbol of scientific, literary and athletic merit. The wreath of laurels is awarded to new doctors and honorary doctors at the original Faculty of Philosophy, which corresponds to today's Faculties of Humanities, Social Sciences and Science.
The doctoral ring is of gold and symbolizes faithfulness to science. The faculties have faculty-specific symbols that adorn the ring and are only awarded to honorary doctors. The new doctoral graduates are free to purchase a doctoral ring, but these are not awarded at the ceremony.
The diploma used to be a written affirmation of the rights that were granted to the doctoral graduates. The diploma is written in Latin and has the University's watermark and carries the University seal, as well as the respective faculty seal. The diploma is awarded at the ceremony to all new doctors, honorary doctors and jubilee doctors.
Photos: Eva Dalin
Anne Heikkinen Sandberg, Master of Ceremonies
Ingrid Harris, Event Coordinator
Spökslottet, Drottninggatan 116
Office of the President
SE-106 91 Stockholm
Last updated: October 19, 2022
Source: Office of the President (AHS)