A tasteful memorial ceremony, 200 years after William Chalmers' death
Two hundred years to the day after his death, the Chalmers University of Technology founder was honored with a tasteful wreath ceremony at Stampen cemetery in July.
The school's management group, the Chalmers Student Union and the Chalmersska Ingenjörsföreningen (CING) placed two beautiful summer wreaths on William Chalmers' grave.
"I think he would have felt that the Chalmers of today lives up to his motto, 'Avancez'. It's not just about preserving our history but continuing on our quest forward," says First Vice President Mats Viberg.
It's early morning on Sunday, July 3, 2011. At the Stampen cemetery at Svingeln in Gothenburg, the trees and grassy areas in full bloom, a warm and pleasant breeze sweeps down the aisles between the well-tended graves and monuments, and, occasionally, the sun peeks out from a slightly overcast sky.
This truly may be Stampen cemetery at its very best.
An occasional passerby stops to cast a curious glance at the formally dressed memorial party, who gently place two wreaths of flowers bound with a beautiful ribbon next to a particularly important monument - the grave of William Chalmers.
In attendance is half of the newly elected leadership of the student union, with president Emilia Liljeström at its head, along with Chalmers' newly appointed First Vice President and deputy executive officer, Mats Viberg, laying down a wreath on behalf of the university.
"It is important to honor our history. Our historical connection gives us a competitive advantage over other universities, and helps to further strengthen our brand. William Chalmers' example shows that if you plant a seed, it can grow into something amazing," says Mats Viberg.
"Here lies William Chalmers, born in 1748 and died in 1811. Dedicated to free care for needy children and the sick, covered by society" reads the tall gravestone that towers over the churchyard wall.
Emilia Liljeström, president of the student union, arrived at the cemetery along with the vice president Axel Jarenfors, the building manager Hanna Siggelkow, Amanda Stehn, head of the unit for educational affairs and Dan Li, vice head of the unit for educational affairs.
"One feels particularly proud to be a Chalmers student on a day like this. I think William Chalmers would be overjoyed to see how the college has evolved to become the place it is today and how his name lives on through all who have attended Chalmers, who call themselves 'chalmerists' and contribute to the common Chalmers spirit," says Emilia Liljeström.
For many years now, the Student Union has honored William Chalmers' memory by laying a wreath on his grave on the anniversary of his death each year. In 2011 for the first time, a joint ceremony was held with the university's management group to mark the 200th anniversary of the founder's death and the writing of his last will and testament.
Amanda Stehn, head of the unit for educational affairs, sees the historical links between Chalmers and the city of Gothenburg as one of the university's greatest assets:
"It gives power to the present. We can also take inspiration from William Chalmers' achievements as we engage in entrepreneurship, and see how he dared to give it all for an idea he believed in," she says.
Axel Jarenfors, vice president of the student union, believes that William Chalmers' donation is an example we can learn from even today:
"Above all, we can learn how we should use a large fortune for the benefit of other people and not just for ourselves," he says.
Emilia Liljeström adds:
"It was poor children whom he wanted to support, and this is an important part of the history of Chalmers."
The mood is solemn for a moment in front of the impressive monument. One senses the presence of history. Near the grave, the CS technology association honors the day by laying down a candle and a glass of brandy, a little touch of mischief that brings a warm smile to the faces of those watching.
A group of engineering students also joins the ceremony after reading about the event on the Chalmers website. They stand off to the side a bit to take in the atmosphere.
The wreath from the Student Union also includes a greeting from Chalmersska Ingenjörsföreningen, which was unable to send a representative from its ranks.
Emilia Liljeström gives a short and eloquent speech before the two wreaths are placed beside the grave:
"These wreaths are a token of our gratitude. William Chalmers' donation has given thousands of students an excellent education and 'chalmerists' a bright future," she says, and gives a typical Chalmers cheer for the university's founder.
The ceremony closes with a moment of silence and quiet reflection in front of the grave.
William Chalmers was surely smiling as he looked down from heaven on his successors.
CAPTIONS up to down:
Chalmers Student Union, Chalmers and Chalmersska Ingenjörsföreningen commemorate the 200-year anniversary of William Chalmers' death. From left, Dan Li, vice head of the unit for educational affairs, Chalmers First Vice President Mats Viberg, Hanna Siggelkow, building manager, Emilia Liljeström, president of the student union, Axel Jarenfors, vice president of the student union, and Amanda Stehn, head of the unit for educational affairs.
Wreaths to honor the memory of William Chalmers bearing greetings from Chalmers AB, Chalmers Student Union and Chalmersska Ingenjörsföreningen.
First Vice President Mats Viberg and the President of the Student Union Emilia Liljeström in front of the monument.
On the way to the grave with pretty summer wreaths: from left, Emilia Liljeström, Dan Li, Hanna Siggelkow, Amanda Stehn, Axel Jarenfors, and Mats Viberg.
Amanda Stehn and Axel Jarenfors place the memorial wreath near the grave.
Chalmers First Vice President Mats Viberg straightens out the university's wreath.
Photo: Emil Johansson, Ejoh Photography
Text: Michael Nystås
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