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Marjo Timonen

Marjo Hannele Timonen
Born April 29, 1955, Kurikka

Bachelor of Arts 1983, Master of Arts 1984 (Finnish history, general history, political science, journalism), University of Helsinki

Director of information and communication 2007–, Parliament of Finland
Head of information 2003–07, Parliament of Finland
Special advisor 1994–95, Prime Minister’s Office
Head of communications 1993–2002, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities
Head of communications 1988–93, Finnish Municipal Association
Head of communications 1986–87, Insaider Oy
Press officer 1985–86, University of Joensuu
Chairman 1980–81, National Union of University Students in Finland

Photo: Hanne Salonen
Written by Marjo Timonen (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Still Friends with Professors

I vividly recall Rector Ernst Palmén from my university days. He had a very open and relaxed attitude towards students who were involved in the Students’ Union. Palmén had the habit of inviting the board of the Students’ Union to his home every May Day. Many glasses were raised and happy songs sung at his home in Töölö.

I was also involved in the Students’ Union when the Old Student House burned down. It was a shock, but we quickly reached a decision: make the old new.

During my time at the University, Taistoism was still going strong, particularly within the student associations. As such, there were only two non-socialists on the board of the student association Kronos. In its great wisdom, the board in decided, by a vote, that a list of anti-Soviet textbooks was to be delivered to the head of the History Department, Yrjö Blomstedt. I wisely decided to be sick that day, so I did not participate in delivering the list.

There were many admirable teachers at the History Department: Päiviö Tommila, Matti Klinge, Päivi Setälä, Marjatta Hietala, Aura Korppi-Tommola, Jaakko Suolahti, Helge Pohjolan-Pirhonen, Ohto Manninen, Seppo Zetterberg and Osmo Jussila. I also had the opportunity to hear Eino Jutikkala give a lecture on the history of the peasantry. It is wonderful that I have been able to meet up with many of them after my studies concluded, and that I instantly feel that we belong to the same group.

The most significant experience during my student days was being the chairman of the National Union of University Students in Finland between 1980 and 1981. We worked towards improving student aid, housing and meals, as well as teaching and degrees. Moreover, Culture once again became part of student life after the years of passionate politicking subsided. The National Union was also a window into international collaboration. I was the first woman to be chairman. When more women started to hold the position, then-minister Tarja Halonen and I founded SYL-sisters, a network that brings together women who have been active in the National Union over the decades.

Most of my time as student was, therefore, spent somewhere outside lecture halls and libraries. Consequently, it was only in my ninth year that I finally completed my master’s degree, but by then I had already been working for years.

Director of Information and Communication Marjo Timonen on the media gallery of the temporary plenary hall together with Kimmo Henriksson, a reporter for the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Timonen and Henriksson met at the Department of History in 1975. Photo by Hanne Salonen, the Parliament photo archive.


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