Radio, television and the press received the first reports of the overall framework of the 650th Anniversary of the founding of Charles University at a press conference held on the 28th of November 1996. In his introductory address the CU Rector Prof. JUDr. Karel Maly, DrSc., said that while the press conference might appear to be rather premature in view of the date of the anniversary, in fact the arrangement of such a huge event demanded at least a year of forward publicity and planning: "Both at home and abroad the anniversary of Charles University is arousing great interest." Several reasons are behind CU's decision to mark the event with major celebrations. Charles University remains a symbol of more than purely Czech learning, and there is a need to make visible the continuity of its teaching and research activities on a European level. Previous anniversaries, the Rector noted, had always been celebrated in some way: 500 years (1848), 550 years (1898) and 600 years (1948): "The forthcoming anniversary is a major round number, and for the first time we shall be celebrating an anniversary in a free university in a free state."
In conclusion Prof. Karel Maly told the media that the celebrations at CU would begin on the 17th of November 1997 and end on the 7th of April 1999. Prof. MUDr. Josef Koutecky, DrSc., Academic Secretary for the celebrations, then spoke about the specific plans for the anniversary: "The organisational structure of the celebrations is envisaged as involving central events in which the university will act as a unified whole and also events held by the individual faculties. The focus will be on matters of research and teaching, but the programme will obviously be accompanied by first-rate social, public events. The reconstructed Carolinum will be the venue for a year-long exhibition in which the faculties will present themselves in six-week blocks. Four kinds of award will be made during the celebrations to important figures in international science, culture and politics: honorary doctorates, Jubilee CU Commemorative Medals to people at home and abroad who have benefited the university, CU Commemorative "Merit" Medals for outstanding members of CU staff and, currently under consideration, the award of the Charles IV Prize" (editor's note: The Charles IV Prize is an honour jointly awarded by Charles University and the Prague Municipal Authority). "All the faculties have submitted nominations for these honours, and we shall not allow any devaluation of the awards." The Academic Secretary for the celebrations Prof. Koutecky added that the conception of the celebrations of the founding of CU ought to lead in all respects to raising that level of culture which it is the university's bounden duty to represent. The historian PhDr. Michal Svatos, executive vice-chairman of the CU Association of Alumnae and Friends, then called on all former students, teachers and employees of CU to express their support for their Alma Mater. He said that their donations would be used "to benefit the whole academic community, not only for scholarships but also to give assistance to retired teaching staff."
The CU representatives then answered numerous questions from the journalists. The daily MF Dnes asked what gift the Rector himself would most welcome for the university, and Prof. Karel Maly gave the following answer: "Czech universities would need three to five billion crowns for the modernisation and renewal of their equipment. I would regard that as a wonderful gift if the Czech parliament could find this necessary financial support not from the classic state budget but, for example, from the resources of the Privatization Fund." One journalist asked the interesting question of how many students had graduated from Charles University during the 650 years of its existence. Prof. K. Maly said that statistics were lacking and the number of graduates would be a matter of guesswork. One would even have to guess the total number of Prague rectors, since in some (sometimes very long) periods, there were two rectors. The TV Kabel Plus representative, whose question was the last at the conference, asked the CU Rector which of the future changes envisaged at the university he considered the most fundamental. According to Karel Maly the most important task was to ensure the disappearance of those barriers between the faculties "which prevent the horizontal movement of students and researchers within our university and between universities."
A seven-member jury has given its verdict on four designs in the final stage of the contest for the official logo of the 650th anniversary of the founding of Charles University. Our photograph shows the committee in session: Prof. Josef Petran, Prof. Josef Koutecky - Dean of the CU Second Medical Faculty and General Secretary for the Celebrations, CU Rector Prof. Karel Maly - Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Petr Wittlich - Director of the PF CU Institute of Art History, Ing. Josef Kubicek - CU Registrar, Doc. Jiri Kropacek - PF CU Institute of Art History, and the academic painter Prof. Jan Solpera - Academy of Applied Arts (first five shown from right to left in our photograph). The committee agreed that the most suitable logo would be one of the variants of the designs submitted by Prof. Zdenek Ziegler (Academy of Applied Arts), and made recommendations to Prof. Ziegler for definitive modifications of the design in Czech and Latin versions. For everyday purposes (e.g. writing paper), the black and white variant of the logo would be used in combination with the Charles University emblem - the picture on the mid-14th-century seal. The logo could also be used without the emblem, as could the variant of placing the emblem above or below the text of the logo. A coloured black and red combination could be employed for ceremonial purposes, including a red-printed strip with the inscription "Univerzity Karlovy" (Czech) and "Universitatis Carolinae" (Latin). The official logo has been in use to mark all celebration materials since the 28th of November 1996, i.e. the day of the press conference about the 650th anniversary of CU at the CU Rectorate.