Rector Prof. Žalėnienė's Greeting to Mark Beginning of New Academic Year - MRU

1 September, 2021
Rector Prof. Žalėnienė’s Greeting to Mark Beginning of New Academic Year

Dear Students, Lecturers, members of the academic community,

Greetings to all of you on the occasion of the Science and Knowledge Day celebration!

I am grateful to all those by whose efforts it was possible to overcome the greatest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic so that we can return to the auditoriums of our Alma Mater. I especially want to thank our lecturers, administration staff and students, whose ingenuity has helped to find new solutions to ensure a continuous process of research and studies during a pandemic. I encourage you to continue to protect yourself and others so that we can continue our academic activities in a safe University environment.

I think that we have come out of the pandemic quarantine better prepared to deal with the organization of academic work in unusual conditions, mastered distance/hybrid learning, thanks to which we can reach national and foreign students who are unable to attend classes on campus. However, we can not rule out the possibility that there are more than just temporary difficulties that can be overcome with the help of modern technologies. It is becoming more and more common to see the formation of a "new reality" that we are just beginning to get to know and understand better so that we can live and create in it fully.

Not only recent crises, but also scientific and technical progress itself has opened up and highlighted many social problems - deepened social, cultural, economic and technological exclusion, raised new dimensions of human rights and freedoms that easily contrast groups with different beliefs and experiences held by various groups and individuals in society.  Thus, attempts to "undermine" social sciences or to expect the relations and tensions between people, groups, nations and states to be resolved by technology, "artificial intelligence" are as naive as the medieval alchemist's belief in the power of the "philosophical stone."

I see that the young generation, which is striving not only for a broad university education, but also for the sustainable development of society, is well aware of this, as evidenced by the great interest in the study of social sciences.

Despite various quarantine restrictions and uncertainty about the ever-changing situation, we are pleased that over 1,500 students have chosen our University for undergraduate and graduate studies this year with another 200 students coming for a semester or a year under the Erasmus or other exchange programmes. We are pleased that this year students from 57 countries will begin studies at Mykolas Romeris University. This year, the largest group of students came from Ukraine, Spain, Italy, France. The unusual conditions did not prevent even 20 doctoral students from preparing and defending their theses, which we will congratulate today.

We can be proud that we are the only University in Lithuania that is among the 250 best universities worldwide in the area of Law and that our ties with partners in universities abroad are growing stronger. Our students and alumni value our University for mentoring, the connection of studies with practice and attention to their needs. We are successfully implementing meaningful, large social-economic impact research, studies, development projects and preparing international-type research leading to real interaction between business and research,  implementing lifelong learning activities. We are also proud of the achievements of our athletes.

We are continuously pursuing our mission of strengthening the democratic state of Lithuania; to promote sustainable  progress in society based on innovative science; to foster free, creative, responsible, critical-thinking and lifelong learning individuals; to open the path to personal and professional success for every member of the community.

During 30 years of independence, Mykolas Romeris University has trained more than 40,000 specialists in law, management, public security, psychology and other social fields, who today have successfully established themselves in the most important institutions and companies of the country, both in the public and private sectors.

The principles of sustainable development, the "green course", the strengthening of an open, legal democratic state, and the rule of law, which guide our academic community, basically meet the expectations of the young generation, already born after the Baltic Way. According to a recent study by researchers at Oxford University, young Europeans are most concerned about the environment, social cohesion, free movement and democracy. We must listen carefully to the voice of young people calling on the European Union to defend these values.

I am proud and thankful to our members of the academic community, who during this difficult period for our state did not stay simply away, but are active participants today of processes in society: providing scientific insights and recommendations regarding the most important issues of concern to Lithuania and global society.

In seeking leadership in the area of social sciences, desiring to nurture future leaders for our academic community, bold steps must be taken for responsibility to raise the most pressing issues of our time and share the science-based findings and future insights with decision-makers and society.

I realize that sometimes the conclusions of scientists can be unfavorable for those who want an easy, almost miraculous way out of difficult situations. However, quick and "cheap" solutions, that are not coordinated with different stakeholders, are sometimes costly in the future.

In order to reach a sustainable and fair compromise, strategic patience and the ability to respect the opinion and arguments of the opponent must be taken into account. The academic community can and must take a significant contribution to fostering a culture of discussion and helping to reach a just social agreement, which is important for the stability of society and the state. This is exactly what the "creators" of our constitutional framework emphasized from the time of Prof. Mykolas Romeris up to now, where we have a group of distinguished academics lecturing.

In conclusion, I would like to welcome and encourage incoming feshmen. I am sure that by crossing the threshold of Mykolas Romeris University and becoming a member of our academic community, you will feel a special spirit of this modern, open-to-the-world university with new ideas and respect for the traditions of our constitutional frameworks.

Let our academic unity inspire all to fulfill the curiosity of each student, encourage them to engage in informal activities and volunteering. It is up to each of us and to all of us what heights we will reach in the academic and professional sphere and how we will realize our expectations for the future.

Be healthy, stay safe.

Have a successful academic year! Let’s continue our academic journey together!