Rīga Stradiņš University celebrates its sixtieth Anniversary in 2010. Sixty years is a time in a person’s life when one reaches the heights in one’s professional area, a tree has been planted, a house built and children have grown up. In the life of a university it is only a brief stopover, a moment to look back on what has been achieved, and to move on into the future.
Before I talk about the future, I will briefly reflect on the past. After the renewal of Latvia’s independence in 1990, Rīga Medical Institute which was founded in 1950, was renamed the Medical Academy of Latvia and in 2002 became Rīga Stradiņš University. Over those years, Rīga Stradiņš University has given Latvia many outstanding doctors, and I am convinced that the path of the medical profession in the future will begin here as well. All of us together create the future of Latvia. And Rīga Stradiņš University’s challenge is to give its students the tools to create that future.
A contemporary, prestigious, university recognised in Europe and throughout the world in the health and the social sciences field. That’s our vision for the future. But our main value is and remains the person. Those young people who are laying the foundations of knowledge and good education here for their future home. People, the maintenance of whose health, will one day be in the care of graduates of our Faculty of Medicine. People about whom, graduates of the Faculty of European Studies working in public administration, will be concerned.
The task of a university is not only to fulfil the functions of an institution of higher learning. Universities at all times have been important centres of knowledge with active research work and innovative ideas. Rīga Stradiņš University is one of those centres of academic education and knowledge, where the best academic staff has been concentrated to create new intellectual and material values.
I am firmly convinced that Latvia’s institutes of higher learning must be oriented to the attraction of young people not only from Latvia, but also from neighbouring countries and countries of the European Union who wish to study here. The quality of our education is competitive in the European and the world labour market. It wasn’t without reason that our University accepted a record number of foreign students in 2009. Today various programmes here take on several hundred foreign students from 16 countries around the world. The majority of them – 167 are citizens of countries of the European Union. But students from Sri Lanka, Israel, India, Australia, Lebanon, Nigeria, Nepal and Russia also study with us here. The number of foreign students, which is increasing every year, is evidence of our ability to offer high quality world recognised higher education and to compete with other European universities.
Open to challenges, new ideas and creative people, who are able to ensure the highest quality in the field of education – that’s how I would characterise our University in a few words.
We are rich. Rich in talented students and outstanding teaching staff, specialists in their fields, experts and leaders in public opinion.
We are rich in our traditions, up to date teaching programmes and clinical bases.
“Education is not created with hysterically trembling fingers, but with a craftsman’s steady hands,” was a truth stated by academic Pauls Stradiņš. But science is created by fervent and persevering, inquisitive minds as well as by the craftsman’s steady hands. Therefore, at this time of our Anniversary I would especially like to emphasize one of our most significant traditions – the annual scientific conferences, which bring together all of the great Rīga Stradiņš University’s body of scientists and students. These conferences are an invaluable source for the exchange of experience, the bridge, which in parallel with ensuring the learning process also makes sure that the craving for knowledge is satisfied and that knowledge is passed on.
At the beginning of my address I mentioned three things, which a person has achieved by the time they reach sixty. The best times for our University are still ahead. We continue to build our home for knowledge and science, each year young people arrive to study with us, we have planted not just the one tree in Latvia’s garden of the future, but the snake which each man has to kill within his lifetime, has wound itself around the Asclepian staff.
Professor Jānis Gardovskis