The inauguration of the newly re-elected CU Rector Prof. JUDr. Karel Maly, DrSc. took place on the 6th of March 1997, at a special gathering in the Carolinum. The inauguration was held in accordance with traditional university custom and was attended not only be all the newly elected deans of the university, the rectors of all Czech universities and other academic dignitaries, but also by important figures from Czech public and political life.
In accordance with university custom, the newly elected Rector presented a report on the state and life of the university in his first period of office. In this report he thanked all his colleagues for their persevering, strenuous and self-sacrificing work on behalf of the university. He went on to mention the main priorities to which the university leadership had devoted their attention: a full-scale review of university resources and activities followed by changes undertaken to ensure that the university improved its academic standards, efficiency, prestige and status within the overall context of the network of Czech universities and academic institutions. He also recalled the most important political and social events of the preceding period, including the "Discussions on Good Neighbourliness", in which CU contributed to Czech-German understanding. The university leadership had been devoting major efforts to the creation of new university legislation, and had started energetic preparations for the celebrations to mark the 650th anniversary of its founding. Professor Maly went on to express his satisfaction at the fact that the inauguration was taking place in the newly reconstructed Carolinum, which for six hundred years had been communicating its dignity and special spirituality to those with ears to hear. he concluded his speech with the words:"Just as I did in my inaugural lecture three years ago, so today I turn to the whole academic community of Charles University with thanks for the support that it has given to the university leadership and its Rector. At the same time I appeal for your continuing co-operation as we build up the great work that we all call our Alma Mater, Charles University. The endeavour is not only one that we owe to our predecessors; we owe it most of all to succeeding generations, for which the university must remain a symbol and a genuine guarantee of the development of culture and learning."
The Minister of Education, Ivan Pilip, followed with an address on the role of the state and the role of the university, which he saw in terms of the meeting and interpenetration of state and university structures in social, political and cultural space. He stressed the importance of the election of the rector of the most important Czech university and said that the personality of the rector could have a major impact on the cultural climate and intellectual level of the Czech Republic.
The present Chairman of the CU Academic Senate Doc. RNDr. Jan Bednar, CSc. gave an address in which he laid emphasis on the Rector's research and teaching activities and declared that tradition and progress were mutually balanced in Professor Maly's approach. The newly elected Rector then symbolically took up his office by accepting the seal, rectorial mace, keys and rectorial ring. By tradition, this ceremony is followed by an inaugural lecture and Professor Maly spoke on the theme of "Traditions and Transformations in Czech Legal Culture". After the ceremonial gathering ended, the Rector and the Minister of Education signed the Memorial Book in one of the Carolinum's reception rooms. Then Professor Maly presented all six members of his collegium with their charters of commission, and also honoured the former CU Pro-Rector Petr Blahus, DrSc. with a gold commemorative medal.
The Rector's second period of office began on the 1st of February, 1997 and will end on the 31st of March, 2000.
The recent, third visit of Pope John Paul II to the Czech Republic included an event of unique significance for Charles University. On the afternoon of the 26th of April 1997, the Pope received a four-man delegation from the university in the building of the Apostolic Nunciatury. The delegation consisted of the CU Rector, Prof. JUDr.Karel Maly, DrSc., the Pro-Rector for International Affairs, Prof.PhDr Jaroslav Panek, DrSc., the Chairman of the Academic Senate, Prof. RNDr. Jan Bednar, CSc. and the Director of the Institute for the History of Charles University and University Archive, Prof. Josef Petran. After the CU representatives had been introduced, Pope John Paul II presented the Rector with a white leather case containing a copy of an original charter 650 years old, issued by his predecessor Clement VI. The original parchment charter is one of the three important legal documents of the first period of Prague University's history. It guarantees the recognition of degrees awarded by the university throughout the Christian world (the other two are the Charles IV's founding charter and his Eisenach Diploma). The Charter of Clement VI was for centuries a part of the university archive, but at the end of the Second World War it was removed by Nazi administrators, together with several other historical articles from Prague, and its where abouts remain uncertain to this day.
The Pope has presented the university with a newly issued and confirmed document on the eve of its 650th Anniversary. The copy has the appearance of the original including the lead seal. On the left, beside the original signature "Johannes Senensis" is the signature of John Paul II. Usually charters of such importance would be conveyed to the recipients via the Archbishop's Office, but on this occasion he Pope gave the precious document to the Rector without an intermediary. During the delegation's audience with the Pope, John Paul II spoke appreciatively about the Prague university where, as he put it, people seek "truth, understanding and the good". In a short meeting with journalists afterwards the CU Rector emphasised the importance of the occasion, and especially the fact that the presentation of the charter represents a symbolic renewal of university accreditation: "I believe that the renewal of the Papal Bull is a significant signal to the whole world, showing that Charles University is again the institution that it ought to be and wishes to be..."
The delegation took the valuable white case containing the Charter of Clement VI, and sometimes not quite accurately termed a Papal Bull (from the attached lead seal - bulla plumba), straight from the Apostolic Nunciatury to the Archives of Charles University. From the beginning of May the charter on display with other historical archival materials in the University Treasury in the Carolinum.