Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman Alumnus Alexander Stubb Inaugurated as Finnish President

Stubb has served in several political positions in Finland and Europe, leaving his mark on the world as he did on Furman’s campus.
Photo courtesy of Furman University
Alex Stubb ’93 poses with Furman graduates in 2017.

On March 1, Furman alumnus Alexander Stubb ‘93, who holds an honorary degree from the university, was formally inaugurated as the President of Finland after winning a runoff election on Feb. 11. Stubb (National Coalition Party) narrowly defeated Pekka Haavisto (Independent-Green) by a margin of 51.6% to 48.4%. He has formerly served in a wide range of public offices, such as the European Parliament and as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister of Finland.

According to Dr. Brent Nelsen, a professor in the Politics and International Affairs department, Stubb took full advantage of his time at Furman, leaving a mark on campus and gaining a set of skills and perspectives he needed for his political career.

Stubb came to Furman as an international student to play golf but quickly became interested in political science, particularly political thought.

“He still talks about those political thinkers (Plato, Aristotle, and Machiavelli), so much so that when the Speaker of the (Parliament) was giving a speech at this inauguration, he kept talking about how Alex talks about Machiavelli all the time,” Nelsen said.

Nelsen also taught Stubb in a course about the politics of the European Union, in which they discussed the future of Europe and nations such as Finland.

“He saw (being educated in European politics) as an opportunity. I don’t think he had it all planned out, nobody plans out their whole life, but he knew that he loved studying the EU. I think he was one of the first young Finns to understand what Finland’s role in the world would be,” Nelsen said.

After graduating with his Politics and International Affairs degree from Furman, Stubb went on to study the language of French at Sorbonne University in Paris, and received his Ph.D. in European Union studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Stubb then pursued a political career in the Finnish Foreign Ministry. Nelsen said the experiences that he had at Furman enabled him to do so, such as studying away in Washington, D.C and building connections through internships such as that with the Finnish Foreign Ministry.

“He took advantage of Furman, its foundation building and educational opportunities. Alex was one of those guys who understood the value of the place he was at,” Nelsen said.

According to Nelsen, Stubb’s success can also be attributed to his outgoing personality, which stands out in European politics.

“In comes Alex, with this completely different way of doing politics. A much more American way, but not entirely American, still understanding what it means to be Finnish. He has a big personality that fits the American mold but is considered extremely thoughtful,” Nelsen said.

Nelsen says Stubb’s prominence might serve as a draw for international students.

“These things always reflect well on the school, and I’ve had so many people ask me about Alex now because they saw something about him on the news or something like that. So it really does help Furman. It’s a reputation win,” Nelsen said.

Nelsen attended the March 1 inauguration. “It was really amazing. For a political scientist, it was a dream come true,” Nelsen said.

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About the Contributor
Walker Smith
Walker Smith, News Editor
Walker is a sophomore Politics and International Affairs major on the pre-law track. In addition to being the News Editor of The Paladin, he is the President of the Furman Chess Team. His other hobbies and interests include playing and studying piano, classical music, movies (especially Star Wars), astronomy, being terrible at every video game and sport, and hating writing about himself in the third person. Three fun facts about him are that his record against the Vice President of the Furman Chess Team is roughly 400-0, he is currently learning 5 languages on Duolingo, and his favorite animal is the platypus.
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