Traditional garden party caps end of school term

Wednesday, 26 June 2024

Friends and key Charles University representatives this week attended the 20th annual university garden party, traditionally held on 24 June; the well-established festivity, held under the auspices of the Senate of the Czech Republic, took place at none other than the Wallenstein Palace Garden (a magnificent 17th century Baroque garden below Prague Castle, featuring the Sala Terrana open air pavilion, famous Avenue of statues, and the Grotto) once owned by the nobleman Albrecht von Wallenstein. It would be hard to imagine a more fitting setting for CU to underline and celebrate top accomplishments by staff and students over the last academic year.

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Esteemed guests - including some of the country's top political representation - and CU management at the Sala Terrana.

Opening remarks on Monday went to the host Jiří Drahoš, Vice-President of the Senate of the Czech Republic, as well as chemist and university lecturer. He recalled the important active role that Charles University plays in today's dramatically changing world. “In a globalised world, we cannot face everyday challenges alone or by closing ourselves off in the Czech ‘basin’. It is the task of universities, as international centres of education, to develop cooperation with foreign countries and to be able to bring the most modern trends across disciplines, in which Charles University and its units are very active,” he said. The Senate vice-president also expressed his admiration for and thanks to Eva Lehečková, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, and her team, for the commitment with which they dealt with the aftermath of an unprecedented tragedy at the faculty last December. 

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Czech Senate vice-president and friend of Charles University, Jiří Drahoš.

The most difficult of trials

The tragic event of last December was understandably on everyone's mind: “I would like to thank all of you who helped to overcome a difficult period, i.e. students, teachers, representatives of all faculties who did not hesitate, helped and got involved so that our university could overcome the saddest event,” said CU Rector Milena Králíčková, referring to the mass shooting that took the lives of 14 people, students and staff, at the faculty on 21 December 2023. The rector added that additional circumstances had not made things easier: “[It was] a difficult period, not only because of what we have gone through, but also because Czech universities are extremely underfunded and the burden of the current state is on all of us. Together we are fighting and striving to overcome this tough period and Charles University will come out even stronger, for which I thank you all today. I especially thank the younger generation: you are a valuable inspiration for us academics. I am therefore glad that today's celebration is a mix of your energy and the experience of us, your teachers, representatives of the academic community. May every day be like this!” the rector added, wishing only the best for all present.

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Charles University Rector Milena Králíčková expressed pride in the country's younger generation.

Eva Voldřichová Beránková, the vice-rector for International Affairs, spoke about the development of international relations and the paths chosen by Charles University in the field of internationalisation. Among other things, in connection with the key programme in the field of student and academic mobility, which is Erasmus+, she said that the distribution of funds was going to be “reconfigured” according to new rules in order to increase the motivation of faculties. And at the same time learn to translate the experience gained into the further development of the university. The vice-rector also outlined the direction of interest in terms of new international collaborations and strategic partners.

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Left: CU Vice-Rector Eva Voldřichová Beránková.

Olympic snowboarder awarded CU medal

After their presentations came time for the awarding of the medals: the Silver Medal of Charles University was received by snowboarder, snowboardcross competitor Eva Adamczyk (née Samková), Olympic winner of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and bronze medallist at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, among others, also World Champion (in 2019 and 2023) and winner of the Crystal Globe for overall victory in the World Cup in the 2016/2017, 2018/2019 and 2020/2021 seasons. Last but not least, Eva Adamczyk, a graduate from the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport at Charles University, was a StarDance finalist in 2023.

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Eva Adamczyk accepts a CU Silver Medal from the school's rector on 24 June 2024.

Rector Milena Králíčková presented the medal: “It is amazing how your personality speaks to young people. You are an inspiration for our students, but also for those who are not yet studying with us. Thank you for conveying the joy of exercise and a healthy lifestyle and for representing and promoting the good name of Charles University.”

“My Bachelor's studies took a bit longer to complete, I was just quite busy on the slopes. Nevertheless, I am glad that I finally decided to study at the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport. I really appreciate the approach of the faculty management for being accommodating and allowing me to get a quality education. Thank you!” the fresh silver medalist said.

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An extraordinary spokesperson 

The Gold Medal of Charles University for Lifetime Achievement was awarded to Václav Hájek, who worked for 25 years as the spokesperson and head of Charles University's External Relations Department, also overseeing the team at Forum magazine. Rector Milena Králíčková highlighted the personality and extraordinary human quality of the award recipient: “He has always represented our university with dignity and helped to build its reputation through his professional manner. Thanks to his diplomatic skills and knowledge of the media and academic world, relations with most of the media were correct and friendly. Many of the projects he managed to implement we take for granted today. He has overcome many difficult periods with the university. His kindness, friendliness, open heart, ability to listen and ability to communicate will be missed,” she admitted. The rector is not alone in her sentiment: for many of us in public relations and communications and journalism at Charles University, Václav is a true leader and an inspiration.

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If you ever covered Czech education in the media, Václav Hájek (who worked at CU for an incredible 25 years) was one of the first people to call.

Appreciation for student initiatives

During the Garden Festival, the moderators - Petra Klusáková from the Communications Department at the rectorate and Jan Fiala, a student of the Faculty of Physical Education and  Sport - also mentioned two important student initiatives that were created as a reaction to the tragedy at the Faculty of Arts in December: Peerko was founded by students of psychology at the Faculty of Arts, providing support to students, lecturers and other staff. It has become a symbol of hope and renewal, as through its care it was able to alleviate pain and help those who needed it most.

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Above left: Petra Klusáková, Jan Fiala; Karolína Fáberová and Magda Králíčková with the rector. Below, left: Rector Emeritus Tomáš Zima with son.

The Hřeje mě pohyb initiative is a charity project organised by the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport  students, supporting the student community; the funds raised at the charity event of the same name went specifically to support Peerko's activities. For their dedication and diligence, the representatives of both initiatives - Karolína Fáberová and Magda Králíčková - won the admiration and appreciation of all at Charles University and the applause of all those present at Monday’s event.

The conclusion of the ceremonial program featured a performance by the Chamber Ensemble of the Institute of Musicology of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University. The following compositions were performed: "Now is the Month of Maying" by Thomas Morley, "L'Eroica" by Andrea Falconieri, Trio Sonata No. 3, Adagio by Jan Dismas Zelenka, and "Te Deum, Prélude" by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

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Author: Marcela Uhlíková
Photo: Michal Novotný

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