Forum IV/6-12

"A Second Einstein"

The last number of Forum contained the briefest of mentions of the twentieth award of a CU honorary doctorate this year, when the famous American biochemist and geneticist James Dewey Watson (who had been unable to attend the April ceremony at which 19 such awards were made) received his honorary doctorate of medicine from the Rector of Charles University, Prof. Karel Maly on the 27th of June 1998 in the Great Hall of the Carolinum. Charles University was honouring this Nobel Prize winner (who gained the award for medicine and physiology in 1962 together with his British colleague Frances Harry Crick) as part of the celebrations of the 650th anniversary of CU. The nomination for the honorary doctorate was made jointly by all five medical faculties in recognition of J. D. Watson's lifelong work and fundamental discoveries concerning the structure and function of DNA and his important contributions to molecular biology and genetics. It can generally be said that Watson's discovery of the code of the structure of living matter has dominated scientific life in the later 20th Century in the same way Einstein's theory of relativity dominated the earlier part of the century. J. D. Watson gained his honorary doctorate not only for the discovery of the DNA spiral, but for his part in the analysis of the human genome, which is likely to make it possible to correct genetic breakdowns at the beginning of the next century. The new CU Doctor honoris causa continues to be a leading active representative of his field. He is the author or co-author of a series of monographs and a large number of papers and reports published in renowned journals. He sits on the boards of dozens of academic and scientific associations and holds honorary doctorates from 18 other universities.

A month later, yet another world-famous scientist and Nobel prize-winner - Sir Andrew F. Huxley - received a CU honorary doctorate in the Great Hall of the Carolinum.


The new CU honorary doctor receiving his honours from the Pro-Dean of the 1st CU Medical Faculty, MUDr. Jiri Kraml (The Pro-Dean and J. D. Watson with other members of the CU Rectorial Collegiate).
Photo for Forum: CU Archives

New University Complex

At a small celebration on the 6th March 1998 two administrative service buildings in Prague 5 - Jinonice were handed over to Charles University (on the basis of a Ministry of Education decision on transfer free of charge). The agreement was signed for the Ministry of Education by the Minister Jan Sokol, and for Charles University by its Rector Karel Maly. In a short opening address the Minister described the event as a "pleasant opportunity" that could be put to good use even within the current period of the university jubilee, ensuring that "the celebrations would acquire a more material aspect than that of university ceremonial." In an answering speech the CU Rector said that the capacity of the new buildings was of fundamental importance to the university, "which since 1990 has increased student numbers by more than a third". The new buildings are especially significant for the humanities faculties, since these have been suffering severe shortages of space. In conclusion Prof. Karel Maly assured the minister that the university would make appropriate use of the new complex. The original decision for the transfer of the buildings to the university had been made by the former Minister of Education Jiri Grusa, and it was supported by the current minister Jan Sokol with a view to the fact that the Ministry itself could not make full use of the complex. The site concerned covers a functional 4,600 m2 (2,862 m2 built up), and is situated very close to the Jinonice B-line metro station. It is part of a new complex of several buildings concentrated around a circular open space where access roads and communications have already been completed and the area planted with greenery. The two buildings that make up the complex transferred to the university have three and six storeys respectively and are connected by a groundfloor hall. The new university complex is worth more than 250 million crowns. Costs for completion of works require another 60 million crowns and will be covered by the Czech Ministry of Education from its building fund. The construction works are still at a sufficiently early stage for changes to be made in internal design and equipment that will make the finished buildings fully adequate to university teaching needs. The planned completion date is the end of this year, and this means that the buildings will be brought into university service as early as the 1998/1999 summer semester.

The new buildings will be of great assistance in solving the space problems that principally afflict humanities fields at CU, where large increases in students have become traditional. They will provide teaching rooms above all for students of sociology, politics and other social sciences, i.e. students from the Philosophical Faculty, Faculty of Social Sciences, the Institute for the Foundations of Learning. Staff of the Centre for Environmental Questions will also find space there. It is anticipated that more than 2,500 students and 350 teachers will be working daily in the new university complex.

The university also has plans for the additional creation of a large lecture theatre capable of seating around 250 people, approximately 60 small lecture halls and a series of special language and computer rooms. The original cafeteria facilities will be extended to ensure an overall capacity of more than 450 meals daily. Another aspect of the complex will be the provision, on a small scale, of accommodation facilities to be used mainly by visiting professors from abroad, foreign language assistants and young teachers.


Forum Photo: Michaela Vlckova
Vol. IV, no. 8-9, 1998

Introducing the University in the Irish Republic

A Czech-Irish exhibition devoted to an interesting historical episode - the activities of Irish students and doctors at the Prague Medical Faculty in the 17th and 18th Centuries - was opened at a celebratory private view in December of last year. Starting in 1675, there were 61 recorded Irish students in Prague, and Jacobus Smith of Balroe even became Dean of the Medical Faculty and Rector of the University. In the years 1754-1784 William MacNeven was First Director of the Medical Faculty and in this office implemented the Enlightenment reforms of Marie Teresa, contributing significantly to the birth of modern Czech medicine.

The first part of the exhibition is being held in the prestigious Long Room of Trinity College, Dublin. The private view here was attended by the First Vice-Premier of the Irish government and the Czech ambassador. The exhibition is multimedia in character, uses recordings of music by Czech composers of the 17th and 18th centuries and culminates in an hour-long videofilm about places connected with Irish people in the Czech Lands. A specialist catalogue has been published to accompany it. The second part of the exhibition will take place in Prague, from the 25th of September to the 16th of October this year, as an official part of the celebrations of the 650th anniversary of Charles University. The whole remarkable event is the result of close co-operation between the 1st Medical Faculty of Charles University and the Medical Faculty of Trinity College, Dublin. Other institutions involved in the preparation of the exhibition include the Institute for the History of Charles University and the Museum of Health, and the Library of the Strahov Monastery.

The mutual links and respect between the universities in Dublin and Prague was further confirmed by the award of honorary doctorates of Trinity College, Dublin to the CU Rector Professor Karel Maly and the Dean of the CU 1st Medical Faculty Petr Hach.


Vol. IV, no. 6, 1998

Unique Videoconference

Videoconference on the Marshall Plan:
Fifty Years After

An academic conference held to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Marshall Plan took place over three days (12th-14th February, 1998) at New York University in the King Juan Carlos Centre. The event included a one-day New York - Prague - Budapest videoconference organized by New York University (NYU) and involving Charles University and the Central European University in Hungary. The participants at Charles University were Dr. Petr Mares and Dr. Petr Lunak of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The original plan had envisaged the participation of students from the same faculty, but ultimately this proved impossible to arrange. From the technical point of view, the videoconference was set up according to the H.320 standard and using ISDN connection. The organizers (NYU) have a SONY Video Conferencing system with three ISDN links, which allowed contact between up to four participants with a transmission speed of 112Kb/s to 384Kb/s. Charles University does not, however, possess either its own videoconference equipment or ISDN link, and so the conference had to be held outside the CU. In the end it took place with the help of the Siemens Company and the Czech Ministry of the Interior, which provided its own ISDN link and premises. Siemens lent a videoterminal compliant with H. 320 standard and, most important, set up a bridge for the ISDN connection in its Vienna branch. The connection of our videoterminal to the conference was therefore accomplished by dialing the number of the Siemens Vienna telephone switchboard, which then automatically established the ISDN connection to New York and linked the two sides. (The Hungarian side failed to overcome the technical problems and in the end was unable to participate). The videoconference itself had been preceded by several days of technical preparation and testing, and ran smoothly, with no technical problems. This was a unique occasion, since an ISDN videoconference between the Czech Republic and the USA had never been tried before. Indeed, it was the first ever international videoconference (according to H.320) operated through the public data network on Czech territory.

Vladimir Horak, Pavel Krbec
CU Institute of Computer Technology

Vol. IV, no. 10, 1998

Czech Studies Centre in Brussels

On the 20th of March 1998, the Centre for Czech Studies at the Free University of Brussels (L'Universite Libre de Bruxelles - ULB) was inaugurated at a formal ceremony attended by a Charles University delegation on the invitation of the Rector of the Free University. The Centre has been established thanks to the co-operation between Charles University and the Free University of Brussels that has developed on the basis of an inter-university agreement of 1990. Following this agreement, a lectorate in Czech language was established with the support of the CU Philosophical Faculty at the ULB Department of Slavonic Studies. This lectorate became the starting-point for the creation of the Centre for Czech Studies, which began its activities in the Autumn of 1997. It has organizational links to the Czech Ministry of Education, the Foreign Relations Office of the French Community in Belgium (C. G. R. I.), and the Czech Embassy in Brussels, and enjoys financial support from the UNIPETROL company. The formal inauguration was attended not just by academic representatives but also by a Czech political delegation headed by the Minister of Education Jan Sokol, who came at the invitation of the Czech Embassy in Brussels.

The centre has the same statutes as all the academic centres falling within ULB competence and is attached to the Department of Slavonic Studies. It has basic technical facilities and a library, which has been equipped with help from many of the CU faculties, as well as a lector in Czech language, an assistant lecturer and secretary. In addition to providing Czech language teaching for students at the Department of Slavonic Studies, the Centre has also extended its activities to include the provision of courses for non-university groups, principally European union officials, businessmen and Czechs living locally. Currently more than fifty people are attending these courses and numbers are steadily growing. The centre intends to expand its study programmes still further by arranging seminars in Czech Language II and III, two seminars on translation and lectures on Czech literature. Its general programme of activities for 1998 has already involved lectures by Karel Bartosek and Jacques Rupnik, and features forthcoming lectures by Ludvik Vaculik, Milan Kundera and Jaroslav Sedivy. Lectures by experts from Charles University are also planned for the near future. The Centre aims to become an important promoter of Czech culture in Brussels, as is clear, for example, from its involvement in the organization of colloquia on the theme "History against Europe: National Myths of the Birth of States". In the context of the programme for the festival Europalia '98 The Czech Republic (16th October 1998-17th January 1999), the centre has been helping to prepare a conference and exhibition devoted to the Czech, French and Belgian avantgarde in the 20th Century.

Prof. Jan Rubes, Director of the Centre for Czech Studies and Head of the Department of Slavonic Studies at ULB, is convinced that Slavonic language studies can only fulfill their goals as an inseparable part of comprehensive study of the history and culture of the peoples concerned.

The centre's future activities will make it easier for students, scholars and the general public to get to know more about Central Europe and the Czech Republic. At the same time, it will help in the process of Czech integration into the European Union.

Finally, we should add that it gives us pleasure to see our country making headway in Brussels through culture and education even before we manage to enter West European economic structures.

Ing. Ivana Halaskova
International Relations Department, CU Rectorate

Volume IV, no. 10, 1998

From the ceremonial inauguration of the Centre for Czech Studies at the Free University in Brussels. From left to right: Czech Minister of Education, Jan Sokol, the Rector of the Free University of Brussels, Prof. Jean-Louis Vanherweghem, the CU Pro-Rector Prof. Jaroslav Panek, and the Director of the Centre for Czech Studies, Prof. Jan Rubes

Photo for Forum: CU Archives

The Most Beautiful Czech Book of 1997

The eve of the 650th anniversary of the founding of CU saw publication of the "Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egypt", which won the prize for the Most Beautiful Czech Book of 1997, the 33rd year of the contest. On behalf of CU, Pro-Rector Prof. Pavel Klener accepted the prize certificate at a ceremony in the Museum of National Literature. As the university's Rector Prof. Karel Maly said at a meeting of the CU Research Board on the 30th of April 1998, not only is the book, "comely and splendid" in appearance, but its victory in the competition is an "excellent advertisement for the university" .... As well as winning a Czech prize, the book has received favourable reviews abroad and there is interest in its publication in translation. Prof. Maly presented diplomas to all who had shared in production of the encyclopaedia: the authorial team headed by Prof. Miroslav Verner, the photographer Milan Zemina, the director of the Carolinum Press, Dr. Jaroslav Jirsa, the Calamarus Press and Leonardo Studi. Prof. Verner thanked the university authorities for "assistance and support for the book, which was a complicated project at both the authorial and publishing stages".


Prof. Miroslav Verner, head of the authorial team of the Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egypt (on the right) with the director of the Charles University Carolinum Press, Dr. Jaroslav Jirsa

Forum Photo: Michaela Vlckova
Vol. IV, no. 12, 1998

Silver Commemorative Medal for Distinguished Lawyer

On the suggestion of the Chairman of the Czech Constitutional Court, and on the basis of a proposal from the Charles University Law Faculty, the CU Rector has awarded a silver commemorative medal to Richard J. Goldstone, judge of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of South Africa and prosecutor at the International Court in the Hague for the trial of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.

He was welcomed at Charles University on the 21st of April by Pro-Rectors Prof. Miloslav Petrusek and Prof. Petr Cepek and by the Dean of the Law Faculty Prof. Dusan Hendrych. The South African Richard J. Goldstone (b. 1938) graduated from the University of Witwatersrand (1962) and after working as a barrister in Johannesburg occupied a series of important positions: he has been Chief Justice, Supreme Court Judge in the Transvaal and since 1989 Judge of the Appeal Department of the Supreme Court in the Republic of South Africa. Shortly after, he was appointed Chairman of the Committee for the Investigation of Public Violence and Intimidation, which became famous as the Goldstone Committee. From the 15th of August 1994 to the 30th of September 1996 Richard Goldstone acted as Chief Prosecutor at the International Tribunal in the Hague for the prosecution of those responsible for grave violations of international humanitarian law on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. This, the first such international tribunal since the Nurenberg Trials and the first purely international tribunal not to have been established as an organ of occupying states for the punishment of the defeated, was set up by resolution of the Security Council of the UN. Richard Goldstone was the Chief Prosecutor in the first, crucial phase of its activities and made a major contribution to bringing to life this new institution of contemporary law.

In view of these achievements, and a series of other outstanding and remarkable activities, for example in the field of university education, Charles University presented the distinguished and internationally respected lawyer Richard J. Goldstone with a silver CU commemorative medal as an expression of honour for his services to human rights and liberties, especially as Prosecutor at the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

Karel Janku

"I visited wartime Yugoslavia in order to find out about the prevailing situation on the spot. I admit that this was physically dangerous, and that my superiors were unhappy about it, but it was essential for an objective view," said Richard Goldstone in a friendly discussion.

Photo Forum: Michaela Zindelova
Vol. IV, no. 12, 1998

Problems of the End of the Millennium

On 12th-14th March 1998 the CU Faculty of Social Sciences held a conference on the theme Czech Society at the End of the Millennium. The aim of the conference, which took place under the patronage of the CU Rector, was to identify the main problems, dangers and opportunities confronting Czech society at the end of the millennium, and to address these in an academic debate that would go beyond the narrow confines of particular disciplines. The event, organized as a working meeting, involved the active participation of experts from Charles University and other Czech higher educational and research institutions including those of the Czech Academy of Sciences, and of fourteen specialists from abroad. These all offered valuable contributions to debate on current trends in Czech society and government with an international, comparative perspective. The honorary board, under the chairmanship of Prof. Lubomir Mlcoch (CU Fac. of Soc. Sci., see photo), consisted of Prof. Vaclav Belohradsky (CU Fac. of Soc. Sci.), Prof. Dusan Hendrych (CU Ped. Fac.), Prof. Jan Kren (CU Fac, of Soc. Sci.), Prof. Bedrich Moldan (CU Centre for Environmental Questions) and Prof. Miloslav Petrusek (CU Pro-Rector). Doc. Martin Potucek (CU Fac. of Soc. Sci.) acted as academic organizer of the whole event. Among the specialists from abroad, we should mention at least Brack Brown (George Mason University), Stein Ringen (Oxford), Jacques Rupnik (Paris), Richard Scheffler (Berkeley), Claire Wallace and Christian Haerpfer (Vienna). The conference organizers were very pleased at the high level of interest in participation, and attribute it not only to the specialist themes involved, but to the overall importance of concentrated discussion on the prospects of the Czech state for the future development of public policy.

The conference programme was divided into five academic sections, focused on the following these:

Further information about the conference is available on the internet at the address

(jam, mich)

Vol. IV, no. 10, 1998


The second meeting in the Conversations on Europe cycle took place on the 11th of May 1998 on the occasion of a ceremonial gathering of the academic community of Charles University and the Bohemia Foundation (Nadace Bohemiae). The meeting was attended by senior officers of Charles University headed by the Rector, Senator Jiri Ruckl of the Czech Upper House, a member of the Board of Directors of the Bohemia Foundation which co-organizes Conversations on Europe, and many other distinguished figures. The leading speakers, who offered their reflections on current and future political, economic and intellectual aspects of the European community, were the Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Heath, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Prof. Mikulas Lobkowicz, Director of the Institute for Central and Eastern European Studies at the Catholic University of Eichstatt. (Seen here in the photograph beside Prof. P. Klener and Sir. Edward Heath).


Photo for Forum: CU Archives

Admissions Procedure

A press conference on admissions procedure at Charles University was held on the 20th of May 1998. Journalists' questions were answered by the Rector, Prof. K. Maly, together with Pro-Rector Prof. M. Petrusek, the Dean of the 1st Medical Faculty, Doc. P. Hach and the Dean of the Law Faculty Prof. D. Hendrych.

This year there were in all 45,245 applications for study at the CU faculties, a figure which is almost 1,000 higher than in the preceding year. Clearly, interest in studies at Charles University is continuing to rise. In line with established trends, the largest number of applications was registered at the Philosophical Faculty (8,728), followed by the Law Faculty (6,585) and the Pedagogic Faculty (6,632). Preliminary analysis shows a rise in the number of male applicants, and a slight decline of interest in the medical faculties. When the admissions procedure is over, we shall be bringing FORUM readers a thorough analysis of the figures (as is already traditional in the first FORUM of the next academic year).


Nervous candidates waiting for interviews. Will they get in?

Photo Forum: Michaela Vlckova
Vol. IV, no. 12, 1998


Following established tradition, the opening ceremony for the Prague Spring international music festival was held in the Great Hall of the Carolinum. The occasion is a symbolic expression of the connection between the most important music festival in the Czech Republic and the oldest source of learning and education in the country. The traditionally warm university attitude to music is also clear from the fact that music is always present in the university, whether in the form of recitals or in the teaching of musicology and musical history. This year, the 53rd Prague Spring festival opened with addresses from the festival director Oleg Podgorny, the Minister of Culture Martin Stropnicky and the CU Rector Prof. Karel Maly. After the ceremony, the Minister of Culture expressed an interest in the newly reconstructed Carolinum, in a lively informal debate with the CU Rector.


Vol. IV, no. 12, 1998

Co-operation with the Olympus Company Continues

On Monday the 6th of April 1998, the Rector of Charles University Prof. Karel Maly welcomed the President of the Board of the Japanese Olympus Corporation Ltd., Japanese businessman Toshiro Shimoyama together with his wife and colleague (Mr. Takeyuki Mori, the Executive Director of Olympus-Europe). It was not the first time that Mr. Shimoyama had visited us, since in 1996 he had been awarded a CU Commemorative Medal. His current visit to Prague was directly linked to the university jubilee (T. Shimoyama received a Jubilee Commemorative Medal at the opening conference on "The Role of Universities on the Threshold of the 21st Century"). Conversation at what was a very pleasant meeting turned to the CU Rector's recent visit to Japanese universities, which he called "an inspiration, and also useful". The Rector saw Mr. Shimoyama's present as a sign of potential further collaboration with the Olympus company. According to Prof. Maly, CU is able "not just to receive, but to give". T. Shimoyama and the CU rector then discussed possible projects on which Olympus and Charles University might be able to co-operate in the near future.


The CU Rector, Prof. K. Maly, presenting Mr. T. Shimoyama with a Commemorative Silver Coin issued by the Czech National Bank.

Photo Forum: Michaela Vlckova

Vol. IV, no. 11, 1998

The Asteroid (4339) of Alma Mater

An asteroid provisionally designated 1985 UK, discovered during collaborative work by the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics and the Klet Observatory on 1985, has been given the name Alma mater (and series number 4339) to mark the Charles University jubilee. Among the more than 7,000 named asteroids it now ranks beside the asteroids Universitas and Ruperto-Carola, called after universities in Hamburg and Heidelberg. The small asteroid Alma mater orbits in the space between Mars and Jupiter in a moderate eccentric eclipse at a mean distance of 2.19 AU and is estimated to have a diameter of approximately 7 km.

Martin Solc
CU Mathematics and Physics Faculty

The position of the asteroid (4339) Alma mater on an astronomical map on the 7th of April 1348. Detail from the Atlas of J. Heveliu

Vol. IV, no. 11, 1998

Great Opportunities

(and Great Risks)

On the 16th of April 1998, the German and French Ministers for European Affairs, Werner Hoyer and Pierre Moscovici, visited the CU Philosophical Faculty in order to lecture to an entirely packed hall on the theme, "The Prospects for the Czech Republic in the European Union." Also taking part in the event were the ambassadors of both countries to the Czech Republic, Michael Steiner (FRG) and Philippe Coste (France).

In their speeches both ministers said how much they appreciated the chance to lecture at so ancient and important university during its jubilee celebrations. Both regarded the approval of the entry of the Czech Republic into NATO as a significant signal for the European Union. Pierre Moscovici told the audience that the EU was a political sphere which the Czech Republic needed to join with due thought and deliberation. "After all, you young people have the most time", he addressed the students present, in order to indicate that we ought not to rush headlong to join European structures. Werner Hoyer sought to reassure those who feared the loss of state and national identity in the union. He emphasized the motto, "unity in diversity" and compared Europe to a grassy meadow that nobody wished to mow down to a uniform level. After the lecture there followed a discussion with the students. The ministers at several points emphasized the peace-keeping aspect of the EU, and Werner Hoyer pointed out that for the first time in history Germany was living in peace with all nine of its neighbours. The meeting did not, however, revolved purely around Czech perspectives. There was also mention of the problems of the Brussels administration and the growth of forces of the extreme right.

"Entrance into the European Union offers great chances and great risks. The decision is up to you," Werner Hoyer concluded at the end of a fascinating discussion.

Josef Krumpholc
Student of the CU Faculty of Social Sciences

From left to right: Pierre Moscovici, moderator Jan Vavra and Werner Hoyer in discussion with students.

Photo Forum: Michaela Zindelova
Vol. IV, no. 12, 1998


In April 1998 the fourth and final volume of the History of Charles University was ceremonially presented in April 1998. It was an event that crowned long years of work by CU staff to produce a newly extensive and detailed history that would reflect the life of Prague university in a way appropriate to its importance and status for the nation and within the broader context of European learning and world scholarship. The development of the university had never before received the thorough and comprehensive treatment devoted to it in the new History of Charles University. It is a collective work produced by experts at the Institute for the History of CU/CU Archives and their external collaborators. The project was finally completed on the occasion of the 650th anniversary of the founding of CU with the publication of the fourth, final and longest volume, which maps an era in university history that has never been written up before. Thanks to the energy and erudition of the authorial team, the support of the Czech Savings Bank, and the high design and technical standards of the Carolinum Charles University Press and the Calamarus Press, we have a work produced in conditions of academic freedom that will disseminate and deepen knowledge of the history of our Alma Mater. It is a safe guide to the stirring history of the university - and the university can take pride in it. The first and only exemplar of all four volumes in a leather binding, with the inscribed emblem of Charles University, gilt-edged pages, and a velvet case, was presented to President Vaclav Havel when he received the CU delegation at Prague Castle on the 3rd of April 1998.


Photo for Forum: Institute for the History of CU and CU Archives