On the 1st of April, 1998, shortly before the culminating of the jubilee CU representatives held a press conference in the Small Hall of the Carolinum where they told journalists about some of the major events accompanying the celebrations.
The event attracted more than three dozen journalists from radio and television stations, and the daily and weekly press. The panel was headed by Prof. Karel Maly, CU Rector, and included Prof. Josef Koutecky, CU Pro-Rector for External Relations, the CU Kvestor (Registrar), Ing. Josef Kubicek and representatives of the media partners in the celebrations (Clemens Bauer, Managing Director of MaFra inc., Mgr. Miroslav Bobek, Chief Editor of Czech Radio 2 - Prague, and dr. Milan Soska, Director of the Ringier inc. publishing group).
In his opening address the CU Rector emphasized the essential purpose of the celebrations of the university's 650th anniversary. They were, he said, "a reminder of the importance of education as the fundamental issue for future generations." While at the moment, alas, education was "a proclaimed but not a real priority of government", the Rector himself saw "education as the pillar and hope for future life in a common Europe". After his short speech, which included a brief account of the course of the anniversary celebrations so far, the representatives of the media partners defined what they hoped to achieve by supporting the celebrations. We present some of their comments here. "When we were asked to be a media partner, it was obvious to us that there was a connection between us as the media and Charles University. We believe that our periodical, Mlada fronta Dnes, principally addresses young people....I am personally delighted that with this partnership I can contribute to extending European co-operation." (Clemens Bauer), "It's logical and inevitable that Czech Radio should take part in the jubilee, since in my view the publicly supported media have a duty to contribute to such events." (Miroslav Bobek), "Our periodicals have a circulation of two and three-quarter million, a real mass readership. And the Ringier group regards it as an honour to collaborate with Charles University." (Miroslav Bobek). The CU Pro-Rector Prof. Josef Koutecky provided some further information about the events to be held in the week of April 3nd-9th 1998, adding in conclusion that "the celebrations of the 650th anniversary will not finish until next year in April, and so we have a great many events still ahead of us". In a short speech the CU Kvestor Ing. Josef Kubicek said that all events in the university jubilee were being financially covered by the two general sponsors..."so far the university has managed to save, and all the remaining funds will go to the Student and Teacher Mobility Fund".
One of the questions asked by journalists concerned the international conference on the role of universities at the threshold of the 21st Century. Prof. Karel Maly explained that the main theme of the general section of the conference would be the "degree to which universities were prepared for the challenge of new technologies and globalization", while the historical section would focus on the place of Charles University in the European context, since "in the beginning it filled a huge empty space and had a major influence on the emergence of other European universities". There was also discussion of the development of Charles University in the near future, and the Rector commented that, "we would like focus on the rising academic generation, especially postgraduate and doctoral students. That is our ambition, and these are not empty words when you look, for example, at the triumphs of students of our Mathematics and Physics Faculty in the 22nd Programmers' Competition in Atlanta. I want Charles University to maintain its leading place in our higher educational system..." At the end of the conference Clemens Bauer, Managing Director of MaFra inc. said that he also considered the success at Atlanta to be a good sign for Czech science, and he announced that the daily paper Mlada fronta Dnes had decided to establish a prize for CU students, which would be awarded for special academic achievement and would involve a total of 200000,- Kc in prize money.
From right to left: Prof. Karel Maly, CU Rector, Mgr. Martin Bartunek, CU Press Spokesman, Dr. Milan Soska, Mr. Miroslav Bobek, Clemens Bauer and interpreter.
The Czech public has had to wait two hundred years to see the collection of unique objects that once belonged to the Clementinum Museum - the oldest Museum not only in the Czech Lands, but in Europe as a whole. On the 2nd of April 1998, Prof. Karel Maly, Rector of Charles University, formally opened the exhibition entitled "The Clementinum Mathematical Museum" installed in the "Fiscus" (Treasury Room) of the Carolinum.
The opening was attended by the CU Pro-rectors and distinguished guests including Milan Stoukal, General Director of the National Museum, PhDr. Vojtech Balik, Director of the National Library. Also present was the Director of the Institute for the History of CU and CU Archives, Prof. Josef Petran, whom the Rector, in his address, called "the father of the idea of bringing the scientific interests of the early Middle Ages closer to our contemporaries". The Museum of Mathematicians, said the Rector, was once one of the university's treasures:
"Learned visitors to Prague would never have failed to take a look at these mechanical devices, practical aids and scientific instruments. In its character, the Mathematical Museum did not differ greatly from renaissance and baroque private cabinets of curiosities and rarities..." It appears that the idea of the museum, as a unique and vivid encyclopaedia, had already emerged in the course of the 16th Century. Later, a year before the coronation of Karl VI (1722), the Jesuits opened the collection of very diverse objects to the public. In the late 17th Century, these objects, which testified to the Jesuit fondness for scientific research, were scattered following the abolition of the Jesuit Order in 1773. The Museum ceased to exist in 1785, and the individual exhibits found their way to institutions of very various kinds.
After the Rector's opening speech, the floor was taken by PhDr, Lubomir Srsen, from the Department of Early Czech History at the National Museum. He recalled a crucial meeting with Prof. Petran, who inspired him to "try and identify the objects that had belonged to the Mathematical Museum". He admitted that it had been like detective work, but that thanks to "surviving archival inventories", it had in the end proved possible to put together collections that reflected the whole spectrum of the original museum possessions. The present exhibition is a fascinating hotchpotch of superb objects. Outstanding exhibits among some fifty surviving instruments include rare clocks and globes from the Clementinum, two valuable sextants that once belonged to Tycho de Brahe and astronomical instruments. The Mathematical Museum Exhibition is a worthy addition to the three full-scale exhibitions already open in the Carolinum building.
On April 3nd, 1998, as part of the Celebrations of the 650th Anniversary of Charles University, the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, received a CU delegation led by Rector Prof. Karel Maly in the Throne Room of Prague Castle.
The delegation consisted of the Charles University Pro-Rectors Prof. Pavel Klener, Doc. Ivan Wilhelm, Prof. Miloslav Petrusek, Prof. Petr Cepek, Prof. Jaroslav Panek and Prof. Josef Koutecky, the CU Kvestor (registrar) Ing. Josef Kubicek, the Chairman of the CU Academic Senate, Prof. Jan Bednar, the Deans of all sixteen university faculties and CU student representatives. The delegation presented the president with the greetings of the CU academic community in a special commemorative letter, and with a new symbol of the university's favour - a CU Jubilee Medal struck to mark the 650th anniversary - which the president was the first to receive. The Rector of Charles University gave a speech in which he told the head of state that the importance of of the celebrations of the founding of the university did not consist in "the celebration of its ancient roots and continuity as an end in itself, but represented an opportunity for deeper reflection on the value of the university ideal, its transformations in history and its future." The Rector also spoke about the great advances in technology and civilization, which especially in the last years of this century have changed the face of humanity in many respects, but have also had a disintegrative effect on world culture and learning. In his view, this made it all the more necessary for us to protect and deepen the old university ideal of free scholarship directed to the search for truth and ways to fulfill human cultural and intellectual integrity, "We have no doubt," he told the President of the Republic, "that in this endeavour our aims and intentions are one with yours". Vaclav Havel (shown in our photograph), then thanked Charles University for the commemorative letter, jubilee medal and wise words, and expressed his belief in the significance of education not just as "the most important of investments in the future", but as a necessity for the quality and development of society and many different kinds of practical activity. He also stressed the higher and deeper meaning of education, "which should also serve the understanding of the meaning of life, the world, and the existence of man within it". In the course of his meeting with CU representatives, the president also received a gift in the form of the four-volume History of Charles University, the most recent and detailed history of our Alma Mater (a unique edition bound in leather, stamped with the CU symbol and presented in a velvet case). After the formal reception, members of the CU delegation enjoyed a lively informal dialogue with the president. Vaclav Havel expressed interest in the work of the individual faculties and the Rector introduced him to representatives of the students, including a member of the victorious programming team from Atlanta - Pavel Machek of the Mathematics and Physics Faculty (in our photograph).
In the first days of April more than a hundred distinguished figures of world science, scholarship and culture arrived in the Czech Republic for the celebrations of the 650th anniversary of Charles University. The prominent guests included rectors of some of the oldest European universities, honorary doctors of Charles University, and many who would take an active part in the most important events of the week's celebrations and receive honorary doctorates or jubilee commemorative medals. A major element of these celebrations was the full three-day conference on "The Role of Universities on the Threshold of the 21st Century", with an extensive programme divided into two sections, historical and general.
After an introductory informal meeting with the CU Rector Prof. Karel Maly and members of his collegium in the reception rooms of the Carolinum (3nd of April 1998), the conference began with a ceremonial official opening session of both sections in the Great Hall of the Carolinum on the morning of the 4th of April 1998. A total of 140 accredited participants (both from the Czech Republic and abroad) had already been registered at the conference. Prof. Pavel Klener, Pro-Rector of CU, welcomed the academic officers of Czech and foreign partner universities, their rectors, honorary doctors of CU and other scholars and scientists. The Rector of CU, Prof. Karel Maly gave an introductory address, and the participants were also welcomed by Doc, Ivan Wilhelm, CU Pro-Rector for Development and organizer of the whole conference, who commented on the division of the event into two sections - historical and general: "I am certain that the two approaches are closely linked, and are both the direct theme of conference. It is clear that the role of the university in the future will be determined not only by the practical needs of society in the sense of training requisite numbers of professionals, but also by the needs of individuals. As individuals, they need a certain intellectual equipment to give them the capacity to orientate themselves in society, meet the personal challenges of their lives and search for their own meanings in the activities they choose to pursue. In other words, in the future as in the past or present, the educational role of the university in its relation to the public will not be confined to the provision of professional, vocational training. The role of forming intellectual capacities and tastes will remain important in the higher educational process, as an integral part of training in any particular field of scientific discipline. The university is also, however, a research institution, and it is ultimately from research activities that educational activities derive (or ought to derive). Given the transformations taking place in the contemporary world, including scientific and intellectual transformations, it is a risky business, if not entirely impossible, to try to give firm answers to questions on the role of the university in the future. We can scarcely deny that today we are already witnessing the redefinition of a range of academic disciplines, the emergence of new fields, and especially the effects of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches. It would therefore be folly to try to force our visions of the future character of universities into the framework of separate specializations that we have inherited from the 19th Century, however much that framework encouraged scientific progress in its time. If the university is to be capable of influencing the development of society everywhere and anywhere in the world, it has to be above all a flexible organism, cultivating an intellectual environment able to accept any promising idea and to develop it at the necessary level of understanding and expertise."
After the address by Doc. Wilhelm, the conference organizer, seventeen distinguished figures were awarded CU jubilee commemorative medals. They were Prof. Dr. Detlev Brandes, Prof. Byung Man Ahn, Prof. Ing. Ferdinand Devinsky, Prof. Dr. Hans-Uwe Erichsen, Prof. Dr. Gernot Heiss, Prof. PhDr. Robert Kvacek, CSc., Prof. Ludmila Pavlovna Laptyev, DrSc., Prof. Dr. Hans Lemberg, Prof. Dr. Nicholas Lobkowicz, Prof. Dr. Peter Moraw, Prof. Dr. Jozef Novak, Prof. Michael Papadopoulos, Prof. Dr. Alexander Patschovsky, Jacques Santer (medal received on his behalf by Dr. Anna Michalski), Toshiro Shimoyama, Prof. Dr. Hedwig Schopper and Prof. PhDr. Josef Valek. After luncheon together, the two sections of the conference had independent sessions on Saturday afternoon, the general section in the Small Hall of the Carolinum and the historical section in the Patriotic Hall. In both sessions there were specialist lectures followed by discussion with contributions from both Czech and visiting experts. The focus of both sessions was the definition of the fundamental ideal of the university and the comparison of the specific features of universities in Europe and throughout the world. The historical session took place under the title "Prague University in European Context". The general section had its final session on Sunday, April 5th, 1998, and the historical section concluded its discussions on the following day. Charles University will be publishing a collection of the papers given in both sections. For interviews with interesting participants in the conference see page...
Moment from a session of the general section in the Small Hall - The chairman and panel from right to left: Doc. Ivan Wilhelm, CU Pro-Rector, Prof. Pavel Machotka, and Dr. Anna Michalski giving the lecture sent to the conference by Jacques Santer.
There was a festive atmosphere in the Rudolfinum in the early evening of April 5th, 1998. The famous concert hall was flying the flag with the orange CU 650th anniversary inscription to mark a special event in the Czech Philharmonic calendar.
As eight o-clock approached the auditorium filled up with members of the academic community of Charles University and distinguished guests - Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky, Czech government ministers, the Chairman of the Czech High Court, Otakar Motejl, and other official representatives, but above the friends of Charles University from home and abroad, all specially invited guests who had arrived in Prague on the eve of the university jubilee. After the National Anthem had been played, the Rector of Charles University Prof. Karel Maly appeared on the stage to welcome the audience of friends to "an inspiring milieu, consecrated to art." In his welcoming speech he told them that "we have met to mark the six hundred and fiftieth year of a road full of glory and sacrifice, but above all to reflect on the significance of science, scholarship and education for the present day and for future generations. We are celebrating the importance of university ideals. These are ideals of freedom, openness, responsibility and spirituality in the academic community and they transcend the frontiers of states, cultures and religions and unite humanity in its unceasing longing for knowledge, the search for truth and its discovery..." Prof. Karel Maly went on to thank the sponsors and partners of the CU celebrations - the Czech Savings Bank (represented by its Managing Director Jaroslav Klapal), Unipetrol inc. (represented by board member Ing. Ivan Soucek) and the university's media partners, MaFra (Managing Director Clemens Bauer and Chairman of the Board Ing. Pavel Hoffmann), the Ringier Group (Ing. Milan Kopecky, Head of the Managing Director's Office), Czech Radio (Programming Director Josef Havel) and Czech Television (Director General Jakub Puchalsky). (The entire concert was broadcast live by Czech Television Channel 2.) At the end of his address, the CU Rector invited all those present to a "spiritual musical feast" prepared by maestro Petr Eben, conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, the Czech Philharmonic and the male choir of the Kuhn Mixed Choir under choirmaster Pavel Kuhn. Shortly after eight o'clock the concert began with Petr Eben's cantata for male choir and orchestra, composed to the words of the Founding Charter of Charles University (In Honour of Charles IV). The work was composed in the jubilee year of the 600th anniversary of the death of Charles IV (1978), and was inspired by the poetic beauty of the words of the founding charter. The piece was followed, in the first half of the concert, by works of the French composers Maurice Ravel and Albert Roussel. The audience was captivated by the colour and agility of the two Ravel compositions (Une Barque sur l'ocean and Alborada del grazioso). There was also warm applause for Roussel's ballet composition, Bacchus et Ariadne (1930). After the interval, during which the CU Rector and members of his collegium met the Prime Minister and other government ministers and general sponsors of the jubilee in the presidential salon, the Czech Philharmonic performed Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 in G Major. A storm of applause filled the Rudolfinum after the last fanfare of the final movement. It was a tribute, above all, to the brilliance and vitality of conductor Ashkenazy, who conducted all the works from memory. Under his baton the Czech Philharmonic had played with phenomenal skill. When the concert was over, there was a formal reception in the Rudolfinum foyer, to which all present were invited.
The Czech Philharmony with its Principal Conductor prepares to play Eben's In Honour of Charles IV.
The Archdiocese of Prague and Charles University honoured the 650th anniversary of the founding of CU and the memory of its founder Charles IV with a special service celebrated on the 6th of April 1998 in the Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslas and Vojtech in Prague Castle.
The service was attended by the highest church dignitaries, representatives of CU, the deans of all its faculties, Czech government ministers Jan Sokol and Cyril Svoboda and a number of other distinguished guests. The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk presided over the service and told those present that "Responsible human behaviour, one of the most important expressions of which is free and open academic research and scholarship, is in harmony with the openness of the church, as well." The subsequent addresses given by the deans of the Charles University theological faculties, Prof. ThDr. Zdenek Kucera (Hussite Theological Faculty), Prof. ThDr. Petr Pokorny (Protestant Theological Faculty), and Prof. ThDr. Jaroslav Polc (Catholic Theological Faculty), explored the idea of the relationship between science and faith, and science, faith and human morality, on the basis of interpretation of biblical readings by students of the theological faculties. The service of readings was exquisitely complemented by the singing of members of the Charles University Arts Ensemble conducted by Adolf Melichar. The service ended with prayers of intercession from students of the individual CU faculties and the Chairman of the CU Academic Senate, the Lord's Prayer recited by all present, a blessing from the Cardinal and a song in honour of the memory of St. Wenceslas. This was followed by a procession into the Chapel of St. Wenceslas, where the Cardinal prayed and the Rector meditated at the tomb of the patron saint of the Czech Lands.
Afterwards Cardinal Miloslav Vlk and Prof. Karel Maly entered the crypt of the Czech Kings, and CU students Helena Kucerova and Jan Lata placed a green laurel wreath with the Latin inscription, "Charles University to its Founder" on the tomb of Charles IV. The Archbishop and the CU Rector bowed their heads in tribute to the memory of Charles IV together with representatives of the general sponsors of the celebrations - Ing. Miroslav Tera, Managing Director of Unipetrol inc., and RNDr. Vladimir Kotlar, member of the Board and Deputy Managing Director of the Czech Savings Bank. These representatives placed bouquets of flowers on each side of the laurel wreath. Hundreds of people who had attended the service then waited in a long but tranquil queue before entering the narrow corridor of the crypt to file past the tomb of the dominating figure of Czech history - Father of his People, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, the founder of the university - Charles IV.
The official programme of celebrations for the anniversary of the founding of Charles University culminated exactly 650 years after the King of Bohemia and later Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV signed Prague University's founding charter on the 7th of April 1348. The birth of the "studium generale Pragensis" was commemorated at an expanded formal sitting of the Charles University Research Board in the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle.
The President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, the highest representatives of Charles University headed by Rector Prof. Karel Maly, the rectors of all Czech universities, student representatives, representatives of the government, parliament and senate of the Czech Republic, important figures from various fields of public life and other guests of the university from home and abroad, all gathered to pay tribute to the 650-year-long tradition of the oldest Central European university and its founder, and to reflect on the meaning and mission of Charles University today. The Vladislav Hall (those who have never been there will miss an essential dimension of the event) witnessed a similar gathering in 1948, when the 600th anniversary of the founding of CU was celebrated in the presence of President Dr. Edvard Benes. That occasion, however, took place in the shadow of "victorious February" (the Communist takeover), while the representatives of the academic community of Charles University and other Czech universities who met at Prague Castle for the celebrations of the 7th of April 1998 did so, as CU Rector Prof. Karel Maly put it in his opening address, "as free representatives of free universities where academic liberties have been renewed, and which are today self-governing and autonomous, genuine schools of democracy educating new generations of free people, who need not regard the future with fear". In his speech the CU Rector spoke about the task of the university in the present age, emphasizing its fundamental mission and meaning - the search for truth. "Universities are places concerned with "universitatis veritatum", that is the search for an ordered universe of truth," he said, and went on to consider several contemporary university problems, such as the question of its relationship to the state and financial resources. He recalled the fundamental university ideals and values and the need to develop them further. At the end of his speech, the fifty-fifth rector of CU asked all present to wish the university, its students and teacher success in the coming years, and to stand by CU in its efforts to develop into a successful university of the next millennium.
The President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel reminded those who had been present at the celebrations of Charles University's 600th anniversary of the words of President Dr. Edvard Benes on that occasion. Benes had spoken of the necessity of intellectual freedom for the university but this, alas, had been denied to Czech universities for the next four decades. President Havel stressed that today the university was celebrating its 650th anniversary at a more fortunate time, and could now fully devote itself to its real calling - the cultivation of learning and the human spirit. "Although externally our fetters have gone, I am not sure whether eight years after the fall of communism our society is truly intellectually free internally. Sometimes it seems that many of our fellow-citizens want to live in a society where we know the price of everything and the value of nothing that cannot be sold or put on the market in the narrowest and most literal sense of the word. There is no greater obstacle to the development of a society than the arrogance of the uneducated, provincial suspicion of all that is original, human ignorance." Vaclav Havel concluded by expressing his conviction that a new era of universities was approaching, and that they would be one of the places where the cultural and spiritual integrity of humanity would be renewed. He expressed his wish that Charles University would maintain the authority with which it was endowed by tradition, and would continue "on its path to knowledge, and succeed in being both the safeguard and the co-creator of spiritual values in our society". The morning in the Vladislav Hall concluded with the reading of selected texts from the history of CU by the Brno actor Frantisek Derfler and a performance of Bedrich Smetana's 2nd String Quartet in D Minor by the Stamic Quartet. Dr. Andris Barblan, General Secretary of the Association of European Universities (CRE), which links 520 universities from 39 countries, then greeted the university in the name of the President of the Association, Prof. Joseph Bricall. The whole meeting, which was the culminating event in the celebrations of the 650th anniversary of the founding of CU, ended in the Spanish Hall of Prague Castle, where first President Havel, and then all who attended, signed the CU Memorial Book.
As part of the celebrations of the university's 650th anniversary, a ceremonial expanded meeting of the CU Research Board took place on Wednesday, April the 8th 1998. The occasion was the award of honorary degrees (Dr. h. c.) to outstanding representatives of world science, scholarship and culture, on the basis of nominations from the individual faculties of Charles University.
The degree ceremony, in its traditional form using Latin, was led by Prof. Pavel Klener. Prof. Zdenek Lojda acted as "promotor" of the honorary graduands, and the faculty deans were represented by the Dean of the Catholic Theological Faculty, Prof. Jaroslav V. Polc. The honorary presiding board included not only representatives of the CU faculties, but also the rectors of other Czech and foreign universities. The Great Hall was packed with members of the families of the nineteen new honorary doctors and distinguished guests, including Petr Pithart, Chairman of the Czech Senate, Jaroslava Moserova, the Vice-Chairman of the Senate, Jan Koukal, the Mayor of Prague, Jiri Vlach, Vice-Chairman of the Czech Parliament, Vladimir Roskovec, Deputy Minister of Education, the Papal Nuncio Giovanni Coppa and representatives of various foreign embassies.
After Prof. Pavel Klener had opened the ceremony, Prof. Jaroslav V. Polc formally requested the CU Rector Prof. Karel Maly for his assent to the award of the doctorates to all the candidates nominated. Prof. Maly expressed his pleasure at the opportunity for the university to honour these leading figures of world science, scholarship and culture for their lifelong achievements. All the candidates then took their graduation oath, the "spondeo ac polliceor" and were presented with their honorary doctorates by the CU Rector assisted by the promotor Prof. Zdenek Lojda and the CU "kvestor" Ing. Josef Kubicek.
After the award of the honorary doctorates, first the famous British virologist Sir Anthony Epstein and then the French historian Jacques Le Goff thanked Charles University in the name of all the recipients. Sir Anthony said that he regarded it as a great honour to speak on behalf of so many renowned colleagues. He also specifically addressed the students, as the new academic generation that would be working in the next century. "Even on the threshold of the next century," he said, "the universities, as places of science and research, will retain their enormous importance..." The speech by the French historian Jacques Le Goff, an expert of medieval history, also greatly impressed the packed hall. He had composed his address in the form of a brief memoir of his experiences in Prague, where he had first worked self at the beginning of his academic career. He had studied at Charles University in 1947-48 (his diploma dissertation had been concerned with the beginnings of the Prague studium generale ). "All my subsequent steps in academic work were linked to many Czech historians, my colleagues and friends..." Le Goff said, and continued with reminiscences that included his experience of the country in the years of "real socialism, "and then the years of the suppression and resistance of your nation...and now at last your university enjoys freedom"... The ceremonial presentation of the nineteen honorary doctorates concluded with the performance of the jubilant music of Josef Vejvanovsky. After the ceremony the new honorary doctors met senior CU officers and deans of the faculties in the reception rooms of the Carolinum and also signed the CU Memorial Book.
In its Jubilee 650th year Charles University will honour 23 leading figures of world science, scholarship and culture with the award of doctorates honoris causa. On the 8th of April 1998, the following nineteen honorands received their doctorates:Honorary Doctorate awarded to
On the 9th of April 1998, a formal meeting of the Research Board of Charles University was held in the Great Hall of the Carolinum to award Jubilee Medals on the occasion of the 650th anniversary of the founding of the university. The ceremony was attended by academic dignitaries of Charles University headed by its Rector Prof. Karel Maly, the Deans of the individual CU faculties and representatives of other Czech universities.
Guests at the award ceremony included the Chairman of the Highest Court of the CR, Otakar Motejl, the Minister of Health, Zuzana Roithova, the Minister of Education, Jan Sokol, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, representatives of the celebration sponsors (the Czech Savings Bank, Unipetrol inc., Czech Television, Czech Radio, MaFra inc. and the Ringier Group) and many academics from home and abroad, as well as staff and students of Charles University. All were welcomed by the CU Pro-rector Prof. Pavel Klener. The history of the award of medals begins in 1848. They were originally created to commemorate important events linked to the history of Charles University. Today Charles University awards them as a mark of honour and recognition to people "who have contributed outstanding service to education and the general good."
The author of the jubilee medal for the 650th anniversary of CU is the glass designer and medal-maker Prof. Jiri Harcuba. In his design the university is symbolized by the face of its founder, the King of Bohemia and the Romans Charles IV, and the majuscule Gothic inital "K". The medal also recalls the role that CU has fulfilled over the centuries as a centre of national and European learning (this element is evoked by the inscription of a series of names of famous representatives, teacher and students of the university who by their works and actions have helped to create its traditions). The diploma accompanying the medals and signed by the CU Rector, was designed by the artist Oldrich Kulhanek.
In his opening address the Rector Prof. Karel Maly reflected mainly on the present and future state of the university, especially in connection with the development of research and the open questions of the future. He stressed that the CU must be well-prepared for its future tasks, since "the world will present us with more and more new challenges, to which universities must respond with all the tried and tested instruments for the cultivation of human society". PhDr. Michal Svatos, Head of the Institute for the History of CU, also considered the future of universities in his address. He told those present that "although universities have experienced huge changes over the centuries, and although they have been forced to cope, as they still must, with competition from new educational and research centres, they have always found enough strength for internal renewal, and for the reforms through which they have been able to meet the demands of new times."
Afterwards (according to proposals submitted by the individual CU faculties), the CU rector Prof. Karel Maly presented eighty-seven laureates, both from the Czech Republic and from abroad, with CU 650th anniversary Jubilee Medals (see the list at the end of the article). After the award of the medals, Mons. Giovanni Coppa and prof. Tomas Klima expressed their thanks on behalf of all those honoured. Prof. Klima said that, "The university prepared us not only for the academic, but for the human side of life. We are proud to belong to the academic community of this venerable and internationally famous institution, whether we live in Prague, its city, or whether life has taken us to faraway places."
The ceremonial gathering concluded with a performance by the Stamic Trio, playing compositions by Frantisek Benda and Georg Philipp Telemann.
Giovanni Coppa, Prof. Tomas Klima M.D., Prof. Antonin Fingerland and Prof. Josef Polisensky, after receiving their CU 650th-anniversary Jubilee Medals
All the very different events held for the Charles University Jubilee during the celebratory period from November 17th 1997 to April 7th 1999 have at least one common denominator and common aim. This is to contribute to the development of the university and be of service to the whole institution, its students, staff, graduates and all who are friends to our Alma Mater. One such event is the "Czechs Abroad Week" which will take place from the 26th of June to the 4th of July 1998.
Czechs living abroad, who are graduates or friends of CU, have been invited to attend the event, since the academic community greatly appreciates the various contributions that they made in the period of communist repression and their feeling of solidarity with those at home. The programme of the "Czechs Abroad Week" is extremely packed and varied, and is accompanied by many cultural and social events. The symposium on Czech emigration, exile communities and the relations of Czechs abroad to their homeland will certainly be an interesting experience. There will also be panel debates (on the theme of Czech businessmen, doctors and economists abroad), and separate discussions in sections (on legislation, culture, education and upbringing, and social, economic and political aspects of the subject). The theme of the final day of the meeting will be the problem of how to revive the activities and co-operation of Czech communities abroad. The "Czechs Abroad Week" will be held in the Carolinum and the Valdstejn Palace (the seat of the Czech Senate), and a number of important figures will join in discussions with the guests from abroad. The week will be opened by Ivan Medek, Head of the Office of the President of the CR, and Prof. Karel Maly, Rector of CU. Representatives of the Czech Parliament and government will attend a briefing on the main conclusions of the conference. The list of planned speakers includes Ota Ulc, Pavel Pechacek, Jan Benes, Jaroslava Moserova, Vilem Precan, Karel Trinkewitz, Alexandr Vondra, Tomas J. Bata, Tomas G. Gibian, Milan Vyhnalek, Pavel Tigrid, Erazim Kohak and Otto Pick. There will also be a speech from the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs. The common denominator of all contributions will be the past, present and potential results of hard and honest work associated with the high standard of education and skill obtained abroad. We are also looking forward to hearing from our compatriots about approaches to higher education elsewhere in the world. The "Czechs Abroad Week" offers a tremendous opportunity for the exchange of information and the establishment of important contacts, and will certainly be an unforgettable gathering.
As this edition of the Digest was going to press, we managed to obtain a photo of the opening of the Czechs Abroad Week, which was just being held at the time. A letter of greetings to all participants from President Vaclav Havel was read out by Ivan Medek, Head of the Office of the Republic, during the formal opening of the conference on the 29th of June 1998 in the Great Hall of the Carolinum. (From right to left in the front row: I. Medek, Prof. M. Petrusek, Vice-Chairman of the International Co-ordination Committee K. Kansky, its Chairman O. Cerny, and CU Pro-Rector Prof. P. Klener)
The President of the USA, Bill Clinton, expressed his regard for the importance and high standards of Charles University on the occasion of its 650th anniversary in a letter sent to participants in a meeting at the American Embassy in Prague. The meeting was held to celebrate the launch of the Valuchek Programme for American and Czech students of medicine by the Papanek Foundation.
Warm greetings to all those gathered at the American Embassy in Prague for the announcement by the Jan and Betka Papanek Foundation of the launching of the Andrew J. Valuchek Student Program for the Czech Republic. I am pleased that this new exchange program will link American universities with Charles University, one of Europe's oldest and most distinguished educational institutions.
The exchange of students and scholars taking place through this program will be a fitting tribute to Andrew Valuchek, who strongly supported educational programs for students from former Czechoslovakia during his lifetime. It also reflects the continuing efforts of the Papanek Foundation to foster greater understanding between the people of the United States and the Czech Republic.
I commend all those whose vision and hard work have brought the Andrew J. Valuchek Student Program to reality. Best wishes for every success and for a memorable celebration of the 650th anniversary of Charles University.
The Czech President Vaclav Havel also sent a letter to the meeting, welcoming the fact that the exchange of students between the USA and the Czech Republic links the renown of American universities with one of the oldest European universities - Charles University, now celebrating the 650th anniversary of its founding.
The Czech Post Office has issued a sheet of stamps and first day cover specially to mark the 650th anniversary of the founding of the Prague Old Town and Charles University. The stamps were designed by the artist Oldrich Kulhanek.
From the 9th-12th of September, 1998, our students and teachers, and many of their counterparts mainly from Europe and America, will be meeting in the CU Law Faculty for a symposium entitled "The University and its Students." 350-400 university students and teachers are expected to attend the symposium, at which they will discuss the burning issues of the contemporary age, exchange opinions and so contribute to the development of international understanding and links between people without regard to nationality, religion and race.
The lectures, accessible to students but at the highest academic level, will be thematically divided into four main areas: Freedom and Responsibility - the role of the university and its students; Religion, Politics and Science; University Students and Society; the Future of Universities. These basic themes will be enriched by contributions addressing the concrete problems faced by students and their teachers today. The lectures are expected to be lively, thought-provoking and highly topical, and the list of lecturers includes the university professors W. Bartoszewski (Poland), Ch. Meier, F. Seibt, W. Hermann, T. Schmucker von Koch (Germany), Z. Yavetz (Israel), A. Grosser (France), E. Hobsbawm (Great Britain), and T. Halik (Czech Republic). The schedule allots a great deal of time to discussion and student contributions on each theme.
The organizers' aim is to bring together the largest possible number of university students without regard to nationality, to give them an opportunity for dialogue and discussion with lecturers and so to contribute to the formation of the spiritual dimension of the individual - the ideal that led Charles IV to found our Alma Mater.
The exhibitions presented by the individual faculties of Charles University to accompany the permanent exhibition on the development of CU (see the reproduction of the poster), are now more than halfway through their course. In January and February this year all the medical faculties introduced themselves to the public in this way, and in March and April it was the turn of the Philosophical, Natural Sciences, and Mathematics and Physics Faculties.
The Law Faculty and the Faculty of Social Sciences presented their joint exhibition in the Cloister of the Carolinum on the 30th of April 1998, and it was open until the 10th of June 1998. The Law Faculty laid emphasis on its ancient dignity, while the Faculty of Social Sciences stressed its youth. The joint exhibition contained many remarkable items. There were photographs and examples of the work of the professors who have been the pride of the Law Faculty and of Czech and European legal science, and also documentation on the new Law Faculty Library, the most modern in the whole university. The section presented by the Faculty of Social Sciences left visitors in no doubt of the thoroughly contemporary approaches now characteristic of the faculty, the energy of its students and the considerable teaching, research and publication activities of its teachers. FORUM talked to the organizer of the exhibition, Mgr. Filip Wittlich, who told us: "Organizing an exhibition that would introduce the public to the past and present of seventeen faculties of Charles University required, above all, close collaboration with many members of the university staff. Without such collaboration it would have been impossible to put on an exhibition with appropriately broad coverage of so many fields of human activity. The architectural designer of the exhibition, Pavel Kolibal, fully respected the particular features of the Carolinum Cloister, and skillfully overcame the problems of combining installation of two-dimensional and three-dimensional exhibits. These problems had been particularly acute when we realized that the structure of the exhibits of the various individual faculties was very disparate. However, careful installation of texts, photographs and copies of documents in showcases allowed us to compensate, in some measure, for what was sometimes a dangerous absence of attractive three-dimensional objects." The presentation of the individual CU faculties will conclude with an exhibition by the Theological Faculties. This will open on the 24th of September 1998 and run until the 5th of November 1998.
On the 21st of January 1998, the National Theatre Opera gave a special performance of Smetana's opera "Libuse" to mark the celebrations of the 650th anniversary of the founding of Charles University. The occasion saw the Main Auditorium of the National Theatre packed with members of the university's academic community and its graduates. Also present were government representatives (Jan Sokol, Minister of Education, Zuzana Roithova, Minister of Health), representatives of the Parliament (Michal Prokop) and Senate (Richard Salzmann), and sponsors (Jaroslav Klapal, Managing Director and Chairman of the Board of the Czech Savings Bank). The audience and guests were welcomed by the Rector of CU, Prof. JUDr. Karel Maly, and the General Director of the National Theatre, JUDr. Jiri Srstka. Then the orchestra (conducted by Oliver Dohnanyi) started to play and the curtain went up on a stageset dominated by the shadowy silhouette of an ancient Celtic ancestor. The opera, designed for performance at times of Czech national celebration, had begun.
The three-hour performance met with warm applause. In addition to the internationally acclaimed soprano, Eva Urbanova, who took the title role, there were outstanding performances from Jiri Sulzenko, Miloslav Podskalsky and Vladimir Okenko. In the first interval the CU Rector spoke with Eva Urbanova in the Presidential Room. After the finale with Libuse's famous prophecy, which gave Eva Urbanova ample opportunity to demonstrate the brilliance and three-octave range of her voice, representatives of the university and its faculties, sponsors and media partners met at an informal reception in the foyer of the National Theatre.
A glance at Eva Urbanova's engagement diary shows that Charles University was indeed honoured by the performance of this world-class Czech soprano. This year she is singing for Czech audiences only on two other occasions - on the 27th of July (in Litomysl) and on the 20th of October in the National Theatre - both times as the Czech Princess Libuse.
As part of the celebrations of the 650th anniversary of the founding of Charles University, a permanent exhibition on the development of CU was opened on the 8th of January 1998 in the historic Carolinum. The exhibition, located on the sunken ground floor of the 13th/14th-century houses that form the core of the Carolinum, presents the general public with a wide selection of documents and objects from the university's collection, and is arranged in four thematic sections. It introduces visitors to the charters relating to the founding of the university and successive changes in its legal status, and to the history of the Carolinum building itself, as well as the first or Great College and other university buildings including the most modern. Also exhibited are materials documenting the changing form of teaching and extracts from the work of earlier university professors. Attention is drawn to the activities of several world famous figures who were connected with the university (Ernst Mach, Albert Einstein) and to the founders of modern Czech academic disciplines (J. Gebauer, J. Goll, A. Randa or J. Thomayer). The final thematic section maps the close connections between the life of the university and the history of the Czech nation. The exhibition is thus designed in a way that both directs attention to individual areas of its activities and stresses its role in Czech science and culture and national history as a whole. The exhibits have been arranged so as to use and highlight the architectural features of the Carolinum. They include such items as the university seals, the student record-card of Jan Palach, student of the Philosophical Faculty, and documentation of the role of students during the collapse of the totalitarian regime.
At the opening private view, the CU Rector Prof. Karel Maly drew attention to the unique character of the exhibition, and told guests that "this is not just a testimony to Charles University, but to the history of the nation and state, and to the search for and discovery of truth."
During an "open weekend" (21st-22nd of March, 1998) more than five thousand visitors had an inside view of the historic Carolinum building. As part of the celebrations of the 650th anniversary of the founding of CU, the entire Carolinum complex was opened to the public free of charge, and a brochure with interior plans and information on the history of the building was produced to accompany the occasion. Visitors could take an interesting route through the building taking in the Mazhaus, Cloister, the cellars, the Imperial Hall, the Patriotic Hall, the Small and Great Halls and other parts of the recently reconstructed Carolinum. The greatest attractions proved to be the university insignia exhibited in the fiscus (or treasury), and the exhibition of rectorial insignia and facsimiles of important documents in university history in the cellars. On their walks through the building, the visitors could also take the opportunity to view three recently opened exhibitions: the permanent exhibition on the development of the university in the cellars, the second part of the CU faculty exhibition, and, in the Cloister, the exhibition of Czech artists works donated to the university in honour of its jubilee. This year the open day visits were made easier by orientational signs and captions under individual works of art. Staff of the Institute for the History of CU/CU Archives patiently answered dozens of questions from visitors throughout the entire weekend.
On the 21st of April 1998, the Ars Cameralis ensemble offered us a picture of the music of the 14th Century in the Great Hall of the Carolinum. This was the second of a cycle of seven concerts of period music, and gave concert-goers the chance to hear the music of the reign of Charles IV. The programme was divided into five thematic parts. It opened with Czech music, including the well-known lyrical song, Drevo se listem odieva (the Tree arrays itself in Leaf) or the student "begging song", More festi querimus. The other four sections were devoted to French and Italian music. The compositions of the French composer Guillaume de Machaut were superb, but various anonymous songs were just as dazzling.
Most of the pieces were performed by two soloists (mezzo-soprano, contralto) and three musicians playing copies of remarkable medieval instruments. During the interval many visitors, full of curiosity, took a closer look at them. The quality of the ensemble, which this year celebrated the 35th year of its existence, was outstanding. The technical brilliance of the ensemble was particularly clear in the last section of the programme entitled Ars Subtilior. This was a rhythmically very complex work from the period around 1400 and included tricks and games, like the imitation of bird sounds. This "avantgarde of the 14th Century" (as Lukas Matousek, the ensemble's artistic director, described the Ars Subtilior with a touch of exaggeration), was performed very effectively.
A three-member university delegation - CU Rector Prof. Karel Maly, Pro-Rector for International Relations Prof. Jaroslav Panek and the CU Registrar Ing. Josef Kubicek - traveled to Austria to attend a Celebratory Evening in honour of the 650th anniversary of Charles University. During their one-day trip to Vienna on Monday the 26th of January 1998, the CU Rector also signed an agreement on co-operation between CU and the Technical University of Vienna, represented by its Rector Prof. Peter Skalicky. The Celebratory Evening had been arranged by the Czech Embassy in Austria to mark the university jubilee, and His Excellency Ing. P. Jajtner, the Czech ambassador, had invited important guests to the occasion. The CU Rector Prof. K. Maly and Prof. J. Panek gave lectures, and the Rector of Vienna University, Prof. Alfred Ebenauer spoke on behalf of the Austrian side. After the official speeches there was a concert of works by Dvorak and Martinu performed by students and staff of the Janacek Academy in Brno as a gift to Charles University on its anniversary.
It is interesting that almost the entire Eben family has participated in the Charles University jubilee. David's brother, the actor and presenter Marek Eben recently made a further installment of the Czech Television series, The Treasure of Agnes of Bohemia, dedicated to the university jubilee and shot in the Carolinum. In Honour of Charles IV, a work by the composer and CU honorary doctor Petr Eben, father of David and Marek, was premiered by the Czech Philharmony on the 5th of April 1998 at a gala concert for Charles University.
Not just the inhabitants of Prague, but also foreign tourists, whether stunned or amused, encountered some wild high spirits in the centre of the city on the 1st of May. The student Majales (the traditional May festival which was revived in the 1960s), took place in the context of the 650th anniversary of the founding of CU and started in Palach Square in front of the Philosophy Faculty. The procession of ebullient students, new candidates to be King of the May, their entourages and other devotees of student jokes, set off through the city centre to the venerable Carolinum, where they were greeted by the CU Pro-Rector Petr Cepek. The outgoing May King, Dr. Vinetu was introduced to Prof. Cepek by four candidates for the royal throne. The celebrations intensified in the afternoon and continued almost all night long on Strelecky Island, where a series of bands, theatre groups and many other attractions entertained the revelers. The evening culminated in the election of the King of the May. This year the monarch will be G. M. Rumlerus, usually known as Martin Rumler, a student of the CU Philosophical Faculty. He won the greatest favour among the voters, by promising metro stations at all universities, the introduction of beer bars in schools, and the expropriation of a network of Libyan hotels which would be changed into colleges and refectories. The profits from the entrance tickets will be used to finance next year's May Festival.
The now traditional Summer School in Slavonic Studies, designed for specialists in Czech and other Slavonic languages abroad, will be held at the CU Philosophical Faculty over four weeks in August this year. This is the 42nd year of the Summer School, and is taking place in the Jubilee 650th anniversary year of the founding of CU. The anniversary will be making itself felt not only in the content of the Summer School teaching and lecture programme, but also in various accompanying cultural and social events.
All the Departments of Czech in the university (including that of the Pedagogic Faculty and the Institute of Linguistic and Specialist Preparation) are collaborating in the preparation of an international symposium, A Bohemist Tribute to 650 Years of CU, to be held concurrently with the Summer School. As many as eighty leading experts in Czech and Slavonic Studies from a range of universities all over the world will be giving papers in the symposium's four thematic sections. They will be giving an up-to-date picture of the state of research in Czech Studies abroad, and also showing the character and significance of Czech studies in the cultural context of their countries. Over and over again, experience has confirmed that foreign Czech specialists are our best "honorary diplomats". We have not perhaps always fully appreciated the importance of their unselfish and unostentatious efforts to disseminate knowledge of Czech culture and our country in general. For this reason, inviting these experts to take part in the Bohemist Tribute symposium is more than just a symbolic gesture.