It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the unexpected death of Volli Kalm, Rector of the University of Tartu. Volli graduated from the University of Tartu in 1976. He then joined the university as a member of staff in 1981, and in 1984 he obtained his doctorate in geology.
A professor since 1992, Volli served as Vice-Rector of the University of Tartu between 1998 and 2003, and as Chairman of the Board of the Estonian Research Council in 2012. He was elected Rector of the University of Tartu that same year, and was re-elected in 2017.
As Rector, Volli oversaw the university’s rise in the international rankings to one of the top 350 institutions worldwide. Volli’s personal commitment to the university’s international engagement was expressed in his membership of the Rectors’ Advisory Group of the Coimbra Group of Universities, and the European Universities Association’s Expert Group on Smart Specialisation.
Under Volli’s leadership, the University of Tartu became a dedicated member of the Guild at its public launch in November 2016. In recognition of his commitment, he was elected Treasurer and Member of the Board in June 2017.
During the Estonian Presidency of the EU in Autumn 2017, the university hosted a Vice-Presidents’ meeting as well as the General Assembly, and the energy and enterprise with which he hosted these meetings were characteristic of his wider engagement in the Guild.
We will greatly miss his contributions, his ideas, and his experience. We have appreciated not only his knowledge and leadership, but also his passion for his homeland, and his great sense of humour. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Volli’s family, his friends, and the many colleagues he inspired. His untimely death is a great loss.