Tallinn University of Technology

Before the Independence Day of the Republic of Estonia, President Alar Karis will recognise 167 people, including three employees of Tallinn University of Technology, who were awarded the Class IV Order of the White Star. Fourth person, Kaimo Vahter, was recognized for his efforts in donating blood.

Enn Listra has been working at the Tallinn University of Technology since 1992. He has been a professor and head of the chair since 2002 and dean from 2004 to 2009 and since 2017. 

He was delighted to hear of the recognition, but his second thought was unexpected. ‘In the past, I have found it a bit artificial when people announce in such a situation that it’s not just an acknowledgment to me, but to everyone with whom we did this or that,’ Listra said. But earning recognition made him see it differently. ‘People came to mind, many of them right here in Mustamäe, with whom we have done hundreds of things. Thank you all!’

He is a great contributor to the development of the modern School of Business and Governance. During his deanship, the International University Audentes was merged with the School of Business and Governance of Tallinn University of Technology. The School of Business and Governance was brought from Kopli to the Mustamäe campus and merged with the School of Social Sciences. During this time, the quality of both research and teaching has increased, as has international visibility and collaboration. The school has risen to the level of Scandinavian universities and to the top of Eastern Europe in its fields.  

Listra has been a member of the Supervisory Board of Eesti Pank since 2004, is active in professional organisations (including international ones) and their governing bodies, and is a prolific promoter of economic knowledge and research. In particular, his activities in improving the quality of higher education in economics in Estonia and internationally through his participation in various organisations and evaluation boards should be highlighted. 

Professor Siim Veski has been working at the Tallinn University of Technology since 1999. His research has focused on environmental change, biota and human impacts over the last ten thousand years. The modernity of this theme is demonstrated by the series of papers ‘Mineviku õppetunnid: jääajajärgne keskkond muutuva kliima ja kasvava inimõju tingimustes’(Lessons from the past: the post-Ice Age environment under a changing climate and increasing human impact), with which he won the Estonian National Research Award in 2022. Veski publishes actively and is a highly cited geologist. He supervises four PhD students, and the same number have successfully defended their doctoral theses. He is a member of several national and international professional societies and associations. 

‘An unexpected event, but beautiful! I am also pleased that a number of researchers are again on the list of decoration recipients. It was especially nice to see my first orienteering coach Toivo Kotov among the recipients,’ said Professor Veski in recognition of another decoration recipient. Kotov, a recipient of the Class V Order of the White Star, has been a master orienteer since 1973.

Professor Veski is also a tireless science enforcer (among other things, he is a consultant on the science content of the Äksi Ice Age Centre) and is responsible for the organisation of the earth science school competition in Estonia. The latter has gained a firm place among other Estonian school competitions. Last year, the Estonian team won ten medals at an international competition, including both individual and team golds. This shows the very high level of the team led by Siim Veski. With the competition, we hope to raise the popularity of the geologist profession among young people as a profession of great importance and honour for Estonia. 

Professor Ivo Fridolin has brought a new research and teaching topic to the university – dialysis treatment technology for patients with kidney failure. He has developed it to a high international recognition, as evidenced by his election as a member of the European Uremic Toxin (EUTox), a leading international working group in this field, and the organisation of a relevant research group. He has successfully led it for a long time and developed a practical and broad international cooperation. Professor Fridolin is head of the Estonian Centre of Excellence in ICT Research (EXCITE). 

Professor Ivo Fridolin was surprised to hear of the recognition, as it is a very rare event. But then there was a sense of gratitude to the members of the research team, colleagues and loved ones without whom this would not have been possible. ‘Today’s research-development and teaching is a team effort. I wanted to share this recognition with all of them,’ he said.

Kaimo Vahter is an engineer at the Department of Marine Systems. He was awarded the V Class Order of the Estonian Red Cross for his blood donation. He doesn’t think of it as a big deal as he has donated blood for 25 years, quietly and steadily. He says it’s good for well-being.

“In addition, everyone should have at least one additional societal role. Doesn’t make much difference whether you are a bell ringer in local parish or donate blood. Being afraid of doing something useful is meaningless and it's like being in a rocking chair – you move, but not forward,” Vahter explained.

He says that the news was given to him by a previous colleague, who was more excited about it than Vahter himself. But he says maybe he will get thrilled by that with a small delay.

Before the Independence Day, the Republic of Estonia traditionally awards its decorations to people whose work and activities have helped to make Estonia a better, more protected, friendlier and more caring place. The national decorations are a recognition of the Estonian people and our supporters abroad for their commitment, their daily perseverance, also for their bravery.