On the 17th of December 1996 the teachers and students of the Department of Psychology at the CU Philosophical Faculty gathered for the pleasant occasion of the first award of the Professor Matejcek Prize. The event was enhanced by the presence of Professor Zdenek Matejcek himself. Professor Jan Cap gave an address describing Professor Matejcek's remarkably fruitful career in teaching and research, emphasising the inseparability of his theoretical research and practical activities, as well as the way in which his ideas had influenced the attitudes and practices of society as a whole. The Department of Psychology at the CU Philosophical Faculty was delighted that Professor Matejcek, who had spent so many years supervising MA and Doctoral students, should have used his own financial resources to create a fund for the annual award of a prize to the best diploma work in the field of Developmental Psychology (more details of the Professor Matejcek Prize were given in the this year's Forum Magazine, No. 3). The jury had awarded prizes to the following: Marketa Vavrikova for her diploma thesis on "The Possibilities and Limits in the Integration of Handicapped Children into Ordinary Nursery School (supervisor: Dr. J. Sturma); Zdena Chaloupkova for her diploma thesis on "The Conception of Self of a Child Aged 11 - 15 years, a Member of the Romany Ethnic Minority" (supervisor: Dr. L. Sulova); Marcela Janouchova for her diploma thesis on "The Cohabitation of Three Generations in a Family" (supervisor: Prof. Z. Matejcek); and Irena Exnarova for her diploma dissertation on "Autism and its Diagnosis" (supervisor: Dr. E. Drlikova). A total of 17,000 CKR was divided between the prize-winners. The CU PF Department of Psychology hopes that next year student dissertations of the requisite high standard will also be entered for the Professor Matejcek Prizes.
January of this year saw the twenty-eighth anniversary of the death of Jan Palach. Charles University, and especially its Philosophical Faculty, marked the occasion with a formal ceremony during which flowers were placed in front of the bust of Jan Palach in the faculty itself and at the statue of St. Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square. Those attending the ceremony on the afternoon of the 16th of January included the Questor of Charles University Ing. Josef Kubicek, the Pro-Dean of the Philosophical Faculty Doc. Jan Kuklik, the Chairman of the Philosophical Faculty's Academic Senate Doc. Zdenek Benes, and Jan B. Uhlir, a member of the faculty Academic Senate's Student Curia. As the student representative said in his address, "We need to remind the younger generation, especially, about the sacrifice of Jan Palach, since his name now means almost nothing to them."
This was not the only event to be held to mark the anniversary of Jan Palach's death. On the 18th of January 1997 there was a commemorative meeting in Vsetaty at the grave of Jan Palach, and on the 21st of January the presentation of the Jan Palach Prize for Students, and a press conference after the prize-giving. This was attended by many interesting figures (see the article "The First Jan Palach Prize").
In response to proposals from the student body, the CU Philosophical Faculty has decided to award an annual Jan Palach (1948 - 1969) Prize. Given to one student each year, it is the only prize awarded by the Philosophical Faculty. The prize is awarded for an outstanding independent publication, exceptional achievement in studies over one academic year, Bachelor or Master's dissertations, or significant public contribution to enhancing the prestige of the CU Philosophical Faculty.
The first prize-giving took place in the faculty on the 21st of January 1997, and the celebration was attended by the Rector of the university Prof. Karel Maly, the Dean of the Philosophical Faculty Doc. Frantisek Vrhel, the Pro-Dean of the Philosophical Faculty Doc. Jan Kuklik and Jan Uhlir, member of the Student Curia of the Faculty Academic Senate. The main idea behind the new prize is to express continuity with the moral legacy of Jan Palach.
The first recipient of the prestigious Jan Palach Prize was a Philosophical Faculty graduate in the field of Czech Language and Latin, Mgr. Ondrej Koupil, who won the award for his diploma dissertation, "A Translation of Part of Ros's Cechorecnost together with a Commentary" (this was concerned with analysis of the state of Czech philology in the 17th Century and the history of early Czech grammar). In a short speech of thanks, Mgr. Koupil said that his work was only the visible "tip of the iceberg" and that many other students at the CU Philosophical Faculty were engaged in deeper research into this area of Czech studies. Prof. PhDr. Alexandr Stich (Koupil's supervisor from the Department of Czech Language) told those present that "it is significant that the first of these prizes has been awarded to a work in Czech studies with a historical dimension. This was the area that interested Jan Palach during his own studies..."
After the ceremonial presentation of the award there was a press conference attended by those already mentioned and also by the sculptor Olbram Zoubek (who made the death mask of Jan Palach that is on display in the main faculty building), the artist Michal Vitanovsky (creator of the medal with the portrait of Jan Palach), Prof. ThDr. Ing. Jakub S. Trojan and several of Palach's colleagues. In discussion, these all contributed their memories of Palach's life and tragic death, and recalled the whole atmosphere of the period. At the press conference a student of the Jan Palach Gymnasium presented docent Vrhel with a project for setting up a memorial to Jan Palach in front of the Philosophical Faculty building. Olbram Zoubek supported this student initiative, but suggested that Wenceslas Square would be better, more publicly visible place for the monument. A year ago proposals from students of UMPRUM (the Academy of Applied Arts) on the theme of the deaths of the students Palach and Zajic were submitted to the City Hall, but the results are not yet known...
The 20th of February 1997 saw the ceremonial opening of the newly reconstructed swimming pool in the Charles University Sports Centre in Prague - Hostivar. The opening took place in the presence of leading representatives of Charles University, the Prague Municipality and the Prague 15 local authority. The pool is the first barrier-free pool in Prague and is one of the most up-to-date in the Czech Republic. The reconstruction, costing nearly 33 million CKR, was carried out in record time by the Konstruktiva Konsit Group, Inc. and the Prague Municipality contributed a subsidy of 7.5 million CKR. The reconstruction involved a new method of producing heat from natural gas using co-generation units, developed on the basis of detailed analysis and experience from abroad. The water-regulation technology is also very modern: in addition to the usual filtration and dosing with additives, it exploits what is known as full ozonisation, which destroys micro-organisms and viruses. The pool, with a volume of 880 m3, dimensions of 25 x 15 m, a depth from 1.2 m to 3.6 m and six swimming lanes, meets international parameters. It will be used chiefly for teaching students and employees of Charles University. The general public has been allowed access to the pool since the 24th of February 1997. After agreement with the Prague 15 Local Authority, there will also be a swimming school here for children from neighbouring elementary schools.
This year, from August 1st - 28th, the CU Philosophical Faculty will be holding what is already the 41st Summer School in Slavonic Studies. The programme is being drawn up by the Faculty's Institute of Bohemian Studies. It will involve the now traditional and well-tested forms of study in Czech language, literature, culture and history, but this year there are also plans for a specialized seminar in comparative Czech and Russian lexicography. This will be led by Prof. Milan Friscak from New York, the leading representative of Czech and Slavonic Studies in the USA. The lecture programme has been designed to allow for three parallel cycles on attractive themes: Czech-German relations, the current state of research in Czech philology and literary studies, and crucial moments in Czech history. The 41th Summer School in Slavonic Studies will also devote special attention to the life and work (and death) of Bohumil Hrabal. Specialists in Czech and Slavonic studies from abroad will have the chance to see a series of film adaptations of Hrabal's literary works, and to hear the interpretations and reminiscences of Hrabal's lifelong friend Professor Ivo Treter from the Institute of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the CU Philosophy Faculty. The social and cultural programme will be as rich and varied as ever. Participants can look forward to concerts in the Mirrored Chapel of the Clementinum and the Castle Chapel in Krivoklat. They will also be received by the Mayor of Prague, RNDr. Jan Koukal and, at the end of the school, by the Rector of Charles University, Prof. Karel Maly in the Carolinum. If the applications keep arriving as fast as in the last few days, this year's summer school may soon expect numbers to rise to the magic frontier of 200. This is the absolute upper limit if the quality and intensity of teaching are to be maintained. In addition, the summer school's capacity for 1997 is restricted by the fact that the main Philosophical Faculty building will be under reconstruction during the vacation, and the whole programme will be moved to the university premises in Celetna Street. We are sure, however, that the success of this traditional event will not be affected.
Charles University, Georgetown University and the Fund for American Studies (a charitable educational organization based in Washington D. C.) have once more consented to act as patrons for this, the fifth and jubilee year of the summer school entitled The American Institute on Economic and Political Systems, arranged by the CU Faculty of Social Sciences. This year the summer school will take place from the 12th of July to the 3rd of August. Once again, participants will be able to attend a whole series of lectures given by leading experts on economics and political sciences from the Czech Republic and the USA. It is expected that the fifth jubilee year of the summer school will attract students from a range of European countries and the United States. Prague remains the venue for the summer school because of its status as one of the European centres of culture and education, offering participants a wide spectrum of cultural, historical and social possibilities.
For the eighth year running, The Institute of Language and Specialist Preparation at Charles University is holding summer courses in Czech, between the 14th of July and the 8th of August. Over the years these course, which take place under the aegis of the Rector of Charles University, have become increasingly popular, as is clear from the ever-rising number of participants (in recent years more than one hundred). The courses, held in Prague and Podebrady, are designed for foreigners interested in the Czech language. They are led by experienced teachers from the Department of Czech and the Institute's study centres. The practical language courses (principally for beginners and intermediates) are intensive in character - five teaching hours of Czech in the morning of each working day. In the afternoon there are optional consultation sessions, special seminars and lectures on Czech life in Czech and English. The summer course programme is accompanied by varied cultural events (excursions and visits). On completing the summer school, participants receive a CU ILSP certificate of graduation from their respective courses in Czech.