The Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus (who, as part of qualifying for a professorship, delivered a lecture on Economic Theory and Reality of Transformation Systems before the Academic Board of the School of Economics) was one of fifty-two newly-appointed professors who were given a letter of appointment by the Minister of Education Ivan Pilip on 31 October 1995. The Minister presented the proposals of university rectors for the March to August 1995 period on 5 October. President Vaclav Havel appointed all fifty-two (48 men and 4 women) professors with effect from 10 October 1995, and he entrusted Minister Pilip with the ceremonial handing over the letters. Representatives of political and cultural life, the Head of President's Office Lubos Dobrovsky, Minister of Health Jan Strasky, Minister of Culture Pavel Tigrid, Archbishop of Prague and Czech Primate Miloslav Cardinal Vlk took part in the ceremonial act in the Grand Hall of the Karolinum. The average age of the most learned men and women of the nation with the new professorial title is 55, which is the lowest in recent decades. The letters of appointment were handed equally to the learned who specialize in "...the facts of a case as well as beauty and the irrational..."
Nine of the letters of appointment went to the faculties of Charles University, in our photo is (a few moments before receiving her professorial decree) Prof. PhDr. Alena Macurova, CSc., standing behind the Prime Minister, Prof. Ing. Vaclav Klaus.
FACTUM NON FABULA Agency carried out an opinion poll in November 1994 concerning the prestige of Charles University in the population of the Czech Republic. The survey was conducted by a technique of a standardized directed interview with a representative collection of 1076 citizens over 18 years of age selected by a quota method. The following data come from the final report, elaborated by Doc. Ing. Vaclav Urbanek, CSc. of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education:
The citizens' choice of university providing the best perspectives for students (without differentiating their sociodemographic characteristics) testifies to a relatively high opinion of the possibilities for CU graduates - from the options offered, only Oxford University had a better score (the Sorbonne and Cambridge fell far behind in the poll). The tables also reflect a more realistic opinion of CU undergraduates about its standings as compared with other universities of the world, placing CU after Cambridge and the Sorbonne - but still before Yale and other renowned universities.
Within the Republic, Charles University seems to have no serious competitor. In the younger population, the dominant position of Charles University is mildly weakened by the School of Economics, while the technically minded proportion of older people prefer the Czech Technical University.
For the oldest institution of higher learning in the country, acknowledgement by the nation as the center of national learning is understandably crucial. The data from this survey confirm that the extent of doubting this statement is relatively very low, even though the proportion of answers "definitely yes" and "probably yes" can become the subject of controversy. Relatively high was the percentage of respondents who appreciate the good name of Charles University in the world - the sum of all positive replies totals 89%! Despite the overall positive response, the public is more hesitant about the standard of professors and graduates. The sum total of the "definitely yes" and "probably yes" answers to the statement: Charles University is renowned for a high standard of its professors reaches 60%, while the level of CU graduates is believed to be high by 70% of respondents.
Conclusions: In a period, when the respect of almost all institutions, including those of education, has come under considerable doubt by the public, Charles University remains a relatively unshakeable point of national pride and enjoys a high measure of prestige.
This, however, means to a large extent that the high prestige is based on similar attributes as e.g. the relationship towards the Czech crown jewels or the National Theater. The strength of national pride and honor felt for traditions thus pervades the relationship of the population more strongly than strictly rational arguments ...